Restructuring Boards Removes Citizen Input and Local Control
By Rep. Dave Considine, 81st Assembly District
Recently, all eyes have been on Senate Bill 44 (SB 44) and Assembly Bill 61 (AB 61), also known as “Right to Work” legislation. I voted against SB 44, but now that Right to Work has been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Walker, it is time to shift our focus back to the state budget and the issues that matter most to Wisconsinites.
One such proposal in the Governor’s budget is the plan to restructure the boards of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Under Governor Walker’s plan, these boards would become advisory councils. In order to fully understand why this change is a bad idea, it is important to understand the way these boards currently work. The DNR and DATCP boards possess a crucial policy-making authority, and their actions are informed by citizen input. Essentially, these boards provide a unique level of interaction between our state government and the citizens it serves. This type of exchange is difficult to find in many other areas of government, and that makes it a vital aspect of both agencies.
However, under Governor Walker’s budget, both the DNR and DATCP boards would become “advisory councils”. While it may seem benign, this is a major change that would affect our natural resources and industry policies for years to come. These agency boards are one of the best examples of quality local control we have, and converting them to advisory councils would mean less input from real Wisconsinites and no decision-making authority – a significant downgrade. Without a fully functioning board, the DNR and DATCP would simply be transparent entities under the Governor’s control. No local control, no citizen input, and almost no protection or regulation of our environmental resources and trade industries.
For years, Wisconsin has been known for our rich natural environment and outstanding agricultural & trade leadership. We earned this position through structures like the DNR and DATCP boards, which provide exceptional opportunities for citizens to help drive state policy. I will not support a budget that attempts to remove oversight and local control from our communities, and I hope Wisconsinites will join me in spreading the word about this detrimental plan.