The legislature has approved a bill which would strip the power to appoint the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources from future governors, and hand it over to the Natural Resources Board. George Meyer, Executive Director of Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, has long advocated for the change. He has no qualms with a last minute provision that requires the state Senate to confirm the selection. “Anyone that serves the position of secretary of the DNR is going to need the strong support of the legislature in carrying out their policies and getting their budgets financed,” said Meyer.
Proponents of having the seven member board appoint the secretary claim it would remove politics from the agency. Doyle, who for a long time was on record as supporting the policy change, began to have a change of heart at about the time it became clear that the bill actually had a good chance of passing both houses of the legislature – and ending up on his desk. “I strongly have come to believe that you have a much stronger environmental agenda and policy, if the governor and the DNR are together,” said Doyle. “If you’ve split them off, I think it really harms a strong environmental agenda.”
AUDIO: Governor Jim Doyle (:15 MP3)
“We’re hoping . . . he will remember all the commitments he made to the sportsmen and women of the state over the last fourteen years, and carry forward with his strong past commitment for this bill,” said Meyer. But Doyle is signaling his intention to veto the measure. “Everybody knows how I feel about that bill,” the governor said. “I guess I’m just not ready to announce it, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise to anybody.”
WRN’s Brian Moon contributed to this report