A state board controlled by Republicans is changing a policy that had banned staff from talking about climate change on state time. Two of the three constitutional officers who oversee the state’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands voted Tuesday to revise a policy adopted earlier this year, which banned staff discussions about climate change on state time.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette offered the new language, which just keeps employees from lobbying on the issue. La Follette said that “to me, it is sensible for our staff to be able to talk about climate change when appropriate,” such as when dealing with companies that are concerned about the issue.
The original proposal from State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk drew national attention. He voted against the new policy, noting that the original language was largely aimed at the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson. The daughter of Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson previously served on a global warming task force, which she was appointed to by then-Governor Jim Doyle, and traveled to Washington to testify on the issue without any objections from the board. The Republican cited concerns that the new policy could allow her to do that again in the future.
Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel sided with La Follette though, saying that he wished he had clarified during the initial vote in April that his goal was to prevent policy advocacy by staff. Schimel said “it wasn’t to say you can’t utter the phrase ‘climate change’ in your work.”
Nelson declined to comment on the board’s action. The Board has set a job performance review for her position later this month.