A proposal at the Capitol would end political control over the Department of Natural Resources. Prior to 1995, the DNR Secretary was appointed by a citizen's board. Currently, the nominee is picked by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. State Representative Spencer Black (D-Madison) wants the old system back. He believes the old system worked well for 70 years and changing it was a big mistake.
The Madison Democrat says the political influence on the DNR is having a negative impact on the state. For example, he points to recent legislation that weakened pollution laws. Black says that never would have happened if the DNR Secretary was picked by the public and not the governor.
Black says there's support for the proposal in the legislature. However, Governor Jim Doyle has some concerns about the board that would pick a new secretary. Doyle says the recent delay in the Senate to confirm past board members shows that the panel nominating a new DNR Secretary could be easily blocked. He believes they could influence who the next Secretary is as well.