Bill for Independent DNR Secretary Advances in the Assembly

Assembly Bill 138, which restores an independent Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, passed out of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources Sept. 2.

For nearly 70 years, the citizen-based Natural Resources Board selected the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. They chose the leader of natural resource management in Wisconsin based on a review of their natural resource knowledge and management experience. In 1995, that process was changed to allow the Governor to appoint the secretary.

The 10 committee members voting in favor of AB 138 were Representatives Black, Clark, Danou, Hebl, Hraychuck, Mason, Milroy, Molepske, Mursau, and Nerison.

Despite being co-sponsors of a bill to restore an independent DNR Secretary last session, Representatives Gunderson, Huebsch, and LeMahieu voted against the policy this year. Representative Jim Ott, who voted for the policy in Committee last year, voted against AB 138 this time. Rep. Steinbrink was absent from the Committee meeting. AB 138 is now available for a vote in the full Assembly.

Other environmental legislation in the works in Madison:

• Assembly Bill 139 would increase fines for those who violate littering laws.

• Assembly Bill 258 would require used oil filters and materials used to soak up motor oil be recycled rather than landfilled.

• Assembly Bill 281 would require dishwashing detergent to adhere to the same phosphorus standards as other household cleaning products. Dishwashing detergent can currently have up to 17 times the phosphorus of other cleaning supplies.