Stepp Says She Doesn’t Know Where Idea To Strip DNR Board’s Powers Came From

DNR Secretary Defends Governor's Plan Before Budget Committee


Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said on Tuesday she doesn’t know who suggested taking rulemaking power away from the citizen-led Natural Resources Board.

While testifying before the Joint Finance Committee, Stepp defended Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal to make the board advisory only. She said the change streamlines the rulemaking process and makes it more accountable.

During questions Democratic State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, asked Stepp where the idea came from.

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“I couldn’t tell you,” responded Erpenbach. “I wasn’t part of those conversations. So, I don’t know.”

Erpenbach fired back: “I cannot understand why a cabinet secretary appointed by a governor would not be part of a discussion in perhaps one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the DNR in the last 60 years.”

Stepp said she has heard complaints about the board from the state’s realtors and homebuilders associations. Stepp was herself a homebuilder before becoming DNR Secretary.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, also questioned Stepp’s logic in defending the proposal.

“I read this whole thing and all the powers of the board are given to the secretary,” he said. “When is your election?”

Stepp responded by saying that she will be held accountable by the Legislature.

Olsen also pointed out that elected officials already have the final say on any rule changes the Natural Resources Board proposes because they must be approved by the Legislature.