A bill to change how Wisconsin's DNR secretary is chosen was one of many blocked by leadership, during the just ended legislative session. The legislation, to allow the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to be chosen by the Natural Resources Board enjoyed strong support from sportmens' groups. It passed the state Senate and an Assembly committee. So, what happened? "It's very simple. Follow the money," said Wisconsin Wildlife Federation president and former DNR secretary George Meyer. "in the last legislative election . . . business groups contributed $1.8 million to legislative candidates."
The groups Meyer referred to include Wisconsin Manufactures and Commerce, realtors, and builders, all also big contributors in elections for governor: "when these groups make big dollar campaign contributions to influence the next governor, they want that influence to extend to the DNR secretary, who sets the regulations that protect our natural resources." The bill 's Senate sponsor, Democrat Robert Wirch , says he'll reintroduce it next session. DNR secretaries were chosen by the Natural Resources Board until 1995, when Governor Tommy Thompson made the post a cabinet position. Meyer participated in an "unfinished business" event at the Capitol on Thursday, sponsored by the Peoples Legislature .