“Prior to 1995, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was appointed by the DNR Board. It’s time to return to a Board appointed Secretary”, exclaimed State Representative Terry Van Akkeren (D-Sheboygan). “To those ends, I am calling on our Assembly leadership to schedule AB 138 for an override vote.”
Prior to 1995, the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources was appointed by the citizen run DNR Board. In 1995, an amendment was inserted into the State Budget Bill allowing Governor Thompson to appoint the Secretary. Assembly Bill 138, authored by Representative Spencer Black and cosponsored by Rep. Van Akkeren, would restore the DNR Board’s authority to appointment the DNR Secretary, taking that power away from the Governor. AB 138 was passed by the State Assembly by a vote of 61-32 (4 paired votes) and the Senate by a vote of 21-11. On November 13th, it was vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle.
“We need to take the politics out of the DNR to the greatest extent possible,” stated Van Akkeren. “It is dangerous to have the Department responsible for our environmental protection and outdoor recreation subject to political whims and pressures. For that reason, I not only support this bill but have been cosponsoring this legislation since I came to the State Assembly in 2003.”
“This is also an issue which resonates with my constituents,” added Van Akkeren. “A wide variety of individuals have raised this issue with me and asked for my vote in restoring a Board appointed DNR Secretary. It’s an issue which is brought up to me nearly every time I attend one of the monthly meetings of the Sheboygan County Conservation Clubs. The statewide Conservation Congress has also chimed in on the issue, supporting the legislation in 2006 by 85% of the vote.”
“AB 138 passed the Legislature by a strong margin,” concluded Van Akkeren.
“Looking at the roll call votes from last Fall, it’s hard to say if we have sufficient support to override the Governor’s veto, but I think it’s time to bring it to the floor to find the answer to that question. I support AB 138 and plan to vote to override this veto. It’s time to stand up and be counted on this issue. It’s pretty simple, either you support efforts to return the appointment power to the Board or you want the Governor to make this appointment. It’s one way or the other. I supported this bill when Tommy Thompson was Governor and I support it today under Governor Doyle. Let’s see where everyone stands. It’s time for our Assembly leadership to schedule this vote.”