Senate Passes DNR Secretary Bill, Governor Likely to Veto

The Senate yesterday passed a measure that removes the Governor’s authority to appoint the Department of Natural Resources Secretary, handing the authority to those appointed to the Natural Resources Board. The Senate amended AB 138 to allow the Senate to confirm the Secretary after he or she is appointed by the Natural Resources Board.

Opponents argue that the bill provides less accountability by allowing unelected bureaucrats on the Natural Resources Board to decide who will run the influential agency. Critics note that even though the Natural Resources Board members are appointed by the Governor, they have staggered terms and therefore are not held accountable to the voters because a newly elected Governor has no authority to remove sitting Board members. Proponents of the bill counter that it takes the “politics” out of the DNR.

The bill’s ultimate fate is in question given Gov. Jim Doyle’s repeated threats to veto the bill. It takes two-thirds in each house to override the Governor’s veto. It remains to be seen whether there are enough votes in either house to sustain a veto override.