A top Democrat in the Iowa Senate is defending the legislature’s decision to step into a personnel dispute at the Department of Natural Resources. Staff were not happy with the appointment of Robert Garrison, the retired leader of the Iowa State Patrol as chief of the D.N.R.’s enforcement bureau. Legislators responded by eliminating the chief’s position as well as a deputy chief position.

Senate majority leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs, says that’s the prerogative of the budget committee that fund the D.N.R. “It was a significant concern about morale with natural resource personnel when they hired a person with law enforcement background but without a natural resources background,” Gronstal says, ” So I think that was the decision of the committee. I think the legislature agreed with their judgment.”

The law enforcement bureau chief supervises the park rangers who enforce hunting, fishing, and boating regulations. Gronstal denies the lawmakers are micromanging the department. “I think it falls into the category of recognizing that at the Department of Natural Resources there are park rangers across the state of Iowa they feel, not inappropriately , they feel that the person (who’s) going to be their boss ought to have experience and knowledge in natural resources,” Gronstal says.

Garrison took over as the chief of security at the Department of Corrections after retiring from the patrol. Governor Culver has the option of restoring the bureau chief and deputy jobs by vetoing the part of the budget bill that cut the positions.