A state lawmaker proposes splitting the Department of Natural Resources. With an Assembly committee set to vote on a bill restoring the authority to appoint the DNR Secretary to the Natural Resources Board, state Representative Mike Huebsch will offer an amendment to create two separate agencies DNR into two agencies.
“While a lot of people can list concerns they have with the DNR, and problems they have with the DNR . . . the idea that simply choosing a different way of picking the secretary is going to solve all those is ridiculous. It’s simply not going to be the case.”
Huebsch’s amendment relocates administration of environmental laws to a new Department of Environmental Quality, with a Secretary is appointed the by the governor. That would leave the DNR to focus on fish and wildlife. “I keep the name, Department of Natural Resources, and that agency would have a Natural Resources Board that is chosen differently than it is right now. The governor would still choose the board, but there would be qualifications as to how you could serve, and who could serve.”
“If you want immortality, just become a bad idea, and the legislature will never let you die, you’ll just keep coming back,” says state Representative Spencer Black. The Madison Democrat is author of the bill to restore the authority to appoint the secretary to the Natural Resources Board, and chairs the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, which will vote on the bill – and consider Huebsch’s amendment – today. “This is a bad idea,” says Black of the proposed split.
And not a new idea, either. “When I first chaired the Natural Resources Committee, in 1987, the very first hearing I had was on a proposal by then the new governor, to split the DNR,” Black says. “It was a bad idea then, it’s a bad idea now.”
Huebsch says a version of DNR split even made it to the desk of Governor Scott McCallum, as a policy item contained in a state budget. McCallum vetoed it. The West Salem Republican still thinks the idea has merit, and says he may offer it as a separate piece of legislation.