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Legislature votes to have board appoint the DNR secretary

The governor's office would be less involved in hunting, fishing and environmental matters under a bill passed in the Legislature Thursday.

The Senate voted to 21-11 to take away the governor's power to appoint the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

The Assembly OK'd the bill earlier, but senators added a requirement that they confirm the board's nominees.

The Assembly later approved the change, but by a smaller margin of 49-44. Dan Meyer, R-Eagle River, said a Senate confirmation guarantees that the DNR will continue to be mired in politics.

Gov. Jim Doyle originally agreed to let the board appoint the secretary but he changed his mind earlier this year, saying his office makes the DNR more accountable.

He's not saying what he'll do with the new bill.

If he vetoes the change, neither house has the two-thirds' support for an override yet.

Those who support the change say Doyle's office has become routinely involved in natural resource matters, putting politics and campaign donors ahead of what's best for nature.

But Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, says the board's control would make the DNR less attune to the economic effects of its decisions and would make Wisconsin's regulatory climate worse.