By Mike Leischner
MADISON, WI (WSAU) — A bill providing financial help to get two idled paper mills back in operation has passed the state Assembly on a bipartisan vote.
Assembly Bill 682 passed 96-2, with two absent Assembly members, and now goes onto the Senate. The bill calls for a $15 million loan guarantee for the Park Falls facility, and a $1 million grant for Verso to help them heat the Wisconsin Rapids mill.
Representative Scott Krug, whose district includes Wisconsin Rapids, said keeping the mill “heated and functional” while Verso works out a potential deal with a buyer will help get the facility going quicker if a deal can be reached.
Krug adds that if the bill doesn’t clear the Senate and get signed by the Governor, he will continue to push for other ways to help get the mills back online.
Stevens Point Democrat Katrina Shankland released the following statement after Thursday’s vote: “As a coauthor of Assembly Bill 682 and as the Assembly Vice Chair of the Legislative Paper Caucus, I am pleased that we were able to pass this meaningful, bipartisan bill through the State Assembly to support the Verso and Park Falls mills, our communities, and our state’s pulp, paper, and forestry industries today. I urge the State Senate to take up this legislation and pass it as soon as possible.”
It’s unclear when the Senate will take up the bill, or if Governor Evers will sign it.