Our Klamath Basin
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June 15, 2010
Gold Miners Shafted by
Democrats in the State Assembly
Aanestad Refund Measure
Hijacked With Hostile Amendment
Legislation designed to provide full permit refunds to all
Suction Dredge Miners in California has been hijacked in an
Assembly policy committee.
SB 889 – authored by
Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass
Valley) – would have given miners the opportunity
to apply for and receive a full refund of the $47.00 permit
fee they paid last year for the right to ply the trade of
suction dredge mining on California streams and rivers.
But the measure – which
introduced last year after the State Legislature took
emergency action to ban the mining practice – was hijacked
this morning in the
Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.
Committee Democrats rejected the notion of a full refund and
instead hijacked the bill against Senator Aanestad’s wishes.
They amended SB 889
to provide a refund of two-thirds of the original fee
instead of the full amount.
“This committee is all over
the map in suggesting what portion of the mining fee should
be refunded – and it’s really just arbitrary,” said a
Senator Aanestad during today’s
hearing. “The only real fair number here is 100% of the
$47.00 fee – and if you’re going to hold your vote for some
arbitrary number that you’ve pulled out of thin air – you’re
answerable to the people who elected you to office.”
Although the measure did pass
with the hostile amendment attached –
Senator Aanestad says he is
unsure if he will continue to pursue the matter until he
speaks with all stakeholders involved – including the mining
organizations who sponsored
SB 889. He
notes that a Los Angeles small claims court (Wegner
v. Koch et. al.) has already ruled in
favor of full refunds for California gold miners. In that
case, the court found for the plaintiff and ordered the
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to refund
the miner’s permit fee of $47.00 and pay court costs of
$32.50. In addition to the cost of the judgment, the DFG and
the California Attorney General's office incurred legal
expenses associated with the claim.
“The courts have already ruled
in favor of a full refund – and given the outcome of today’s
committee hearing – additional claims against the state are
almost guaranteed,” said
Senator Aanestad. “That means additional costs to state
taxpayers – possibly in the millions of dollars – because
Democrats refuse to take the fair and right action.”
Nearly 4,000 suction dredge
mining permits were purchased last year according to the DFG
– and more than 3,000 of the permits were purchased by
alone. The cost
of a permit for California residents is $47.00, and for out
of state miners the permit fee is $185.25.
In 2009, the Department
collected about $250,000 from miners who were subsequently
denied the right to mine.
The ban on suction dredge
mining took place in early August of last year, following
the successful passage of
SB 670. It represented a $60 million hit to the
California economy where suction dredge mining was the most
popular and profitable for miners.
“My hope is that every miner
who paid this fee calls their legislator today to explain to
them what the definition of fairness is,” said
Senator Aanestad. “Some
legislators clearly need a reminder.”
.mp3 file format sound from today’s hearing – plus suggested
script information – to follow.
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Saturday June 19, 2010 01:53 AM Pacific
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