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Another Mill Bill to be Proposed in Madison, Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisconsin (From news reports) -- The first draft of a proposal to help restart idled paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Park Falls is being finalized.

Representative Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz announced on Wednesday that he's teaming up with Scott Krug of Nekoosa to make a new proposal that would help get those plants back online and bring back hundreds of jobs to those communities and help out the trucking and logging industries in the process.

"Rep Krug and myself will be introducing legislation that will help the mill in Park Falls and the mill in Wisconsin Rapids," said Mursau on Wednesday.

No specifics of the proposal were provided. Earlier this summer Governor Tony Evers shot down a proposal that would have used federal stimulus funds for a short-term loan that would have allowed a Northwoods cooperative to purchase the mill. Mursau says he hopes this proposal can get bipartisan support so the mills can get back to contributing to the all-important logging economy in Wisconsin. "The industry is a $24 billion industry in this state. It's critical that we work as hard as we can to keep these mills going," added Mursau.

Opponents of last summer's proposal had said the loan would not have been an appropriate use of ARPA funding. After Evers' announced his veto, Krug expressed frustration with a lack of communication between Republicans and the Democratic Governor on the matter.

The Verso mill was the leading employer in Wisconsin Rapids with more than 900 people on its payroll until it was closed in July of 2020. The facility also processed nearly a quarter of the region's timber, which lead to thousands of indirect jobs in the trucking and logging industry.

City leaders in Wisconsin Rapids have been holding out hope that the mill will find new life and bring paper jobs back to the area, though Mayor Shane Blaser as previously said they are also preparing for what could happen if they need to redevelop the land for another purpose- noting that another winter with no activity in the facility will only bring higher maintenance and restart costs, which could make potential buyers think twice before committing to the facility.

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