Republicans Plan To Eliminate DNR Positions, Reject Proposed Land Buy Freeze

Lawmakers Unveil Wide-Ranging Motion Ahead Of Friday's Budget Committee Meeting

Courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television

Republican lawmakers are poised to reject Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to effectively freeze new purchases through Wisconsin’s Land Stewardship program, but they will approve Walker’s plan to cut several DNR scientist jobs.

Walker wanted to effectively freeze new land stewardship purchases for 13 years, arguing the pause was needed to reduce the program’s debt. Lawmakers rejected that plan, but reduced the Stewardship Program’s overall bonding authority. Under the Republican plan, the DNR would still be allowed to spend up to $33 million a year on the Stewardship Program.

However, lawmakers completely endorsed the governor’s plan to cut 29 jobs from the Department of Natural Resources. Eighteen of those jobs would be for scientists. The other 11 would be for educators. The GOP plan would not prohibit DNR from getting rid of its Bureau of Science Services if it wants to.

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Lawmakers also added some surprises to their budget plan for the DNR. The GOP plan would also prohibit local governments from banning urban bow-hunting, whether with a traditional bow and arrow or a crossbow. It also originally included a provision that could have shielded some businesses that emit “odorous substances” from nuisance lawsuits, but the item was nixed Friday in the Joint Finance Committee meeting.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally an Associated Press story. It has since been replaced with original reporting.

It has also been updated, after the committee deleted a provision that would facilitate “odor control plans.”