If Scott Walker has his way the Natural Resources Board (NRB) will be robbed of its ability to set policy for the DNR and, will instead, be ordered to serve in only an advisory capacity. If this proposal stays intact, the DNR secretary will take over the agency’s policy-deciding role with there being no way for the public to intercede. That could be dangerous.
I’m a Walker supporter. Voted for him each time I could. That doesn’t mean I agree with his decision to reduce the NRB to advisory status – especially when he hand-picked four of the seven members.
His only stated reason has been a more streamlined and less costly government. Yet, NRB members are not paid, so this can’t be about budget. You can have a beef with certain people on the NRB, but it’s hard to argue the importance of the board’s overall existence. The members are there, in part, to help protect concerned sporting enthusiasts’ rights and they spend a ton of their free time doing it.
If this proposal stays intact, the Conservation Congress will no longer report to the NRB on conservation issues or spring hearing rule changes, but directly to the secretary of the DNR. The only rule changes that would go to the NRB would be those right from the DNR itself. And even then the NRB would advise the DNR secretary on whether those moves are prudent. The DNR secretary would still make the final decision.
From behind closed doors.
I don’t think so.
I emailed Laurel Patrick, Walker’s press secretary, and wasn’t given a direct answer as to why the NRB was being “demoted” to advisory status.
“The changes in the budget to the board are part of the governor’s proposal to streamline state government services and make government more efficient, more effective, and more accountable,” Patrick wrote. “ I will refer you to the Department of Natural Resources for additional information. Thanks!”
What the heck?
How would this “streamline” anything? The NRB would still have meetings and DNR staff would still have to go to the meetings. The only thing this streamlines is the ability for the governor to give the DNR secretary an order on how, when or what to enact.
Then again, maybe that’s the plan?
I’m not shy about being conservative or voting that way, but this really ticks me off. And if it ticked off, a “righty,” I can’t only imagine how mad sportsmen and women from the other side are.
The good news is that if people really put a bug in their legislator’s ears, the proposal could always be amended.
Better do it now though, because if this gets adopted, there’s no way it’s going to go back to the way it was – when the NRB mattered.