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Veto override fails, Doyle keeps authority to choose DNR Secretary

MADISON - The governor will keep his power to appoint the leader of Wisconsin's massive natural resources agency. The state Assembly fell six votes short yesterday of overriding Governor Jim Doyle's veto of a bill that would have returned the appointment power to the Natural Resources Board.

The vote was 58-to-38 in favor, but the override needed a two-thirds' majority. Eleven Republicans joined 47 Democrats in voting yes. It was a huge victory for Doyle and the business community - which said the governor's appointments make the DNR more accountable to the public. It also kept intact the governors' streak of not having a veto overridden since 1985.

George Meyer of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation blamed last-minute business lobbying for the outcome. His group and others like it said the change would insulate hunting, fishing, and the environment from big-money politics. But Doyle said the current DNR appointment system has created "the most significant environmental achievements in a generation." And the governor said his DNR leaders have been most effective in streamlining regulations for business, while maintaining what he called the highest environmental standards.

The Natural Resources Board used to appoint the secretary until former Governor Tommy Thompson grabbed that authority away in 1995. Also yesterday, the Assembly voted to make at least three of the seven board members be anglers, hunters, or trappers. One member would have to come from agriculture, and another from Milwaukee. Those changes now go to the Senate.