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Bill would take DNR appointment away from Governor


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A freshman Democrat wants to bring back the idea of taking politics out of Wisconsin’s environmental matters.

Ashland Representative Janet Bewley is introducing a new bill to take away the governor’s power to appoint the Natural Resources secretary. That job would fall to the DNR Board, which used to name the secretaries until Republican Tommy Thompson took over that power in the mid-1990’s.

Bewley says it makes sense for governors to appoint the heads of other state agencies – but she says things like hunting, fishing, and the environment should be free from partisan politics. She says Wisconsin’s environmental priorities should not change every time a new governor takes over.

She says her bill would still allow the governor some say in the process.

Democrat Jim Doyle campaigned on letting the Natural Resources Board appoint its own secretary when he first ran for office in 2002. But he did a flip-flop a number of years later, saying a governor’s appointment makes the agency more accountable to the taxpayers.

Doyle vetoed a measure similar to what Bewley now proposes. But an effort to override the veto fell just six votes short in the Assembly. Bewley says it proves there’s still legislative support for making the change.