Governor Branstad has issued something akin to a public reprimand of officials in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The man Branstad appointed to lead the agency served in an advisory role when the Iowa Natural Resources Commission voted to forbid the use of lead shot by dove hunters in Iowa.
“It could have been handled better and, hopefully, in the future it will be,” Branstad says.
During his 2010 campaign for governor, Branstad made regulatory reform a cornerstone issue and promised he would “make changes in the way (state) rules are created and enforced.” Branstad today said the Department of Natural Resources needs to “do better” in the future.
“One of the reasons why I made changes in that commission and other commissions is I heard consistent complaints about this as I traveled all over the state,” Branstad said. “…I heard it from sportsmen and I want to restore the respect and credibility for the departments and agencies of state government.”
The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee has recently voted to put a hold on the Department of Natural Resources rule regarding lead shot. Branstad’s own son, Marcus, testified at the committee’s meeting.
“He was one that felt it was inappropriate for the DNR commission to go against the wishes of the legislature,” the governor said today.
When the Iowa House debated the dove hunting bill this spring, the House rejected an amendment which would have banned lead shot. A member of the Natural Resources Commission talked by phone with Branstad just before the commission met and believed the governor had given his blessing if the commission came to agreement on the issue. Branstad this morning was asked by a reporter for his recollection of that conversation.
“I have not taken a position on whether or not you should have lead shot or not…They wanted to know what was my position on that and I said, well, I would like to know more about the issue before taking a position, so I didn’t basically take a position before or against it,” Branstad said. “And I was not aware that the House had taken this issue up and voted it down.”
The Iowa House considered a proposal earlier this year which would have banned the use of lead shot during Iowa’s soon-to-start dove hunting season, but only 30 House of the 100 House members voted for the new restriction. Some surrounding states have taken steps to ban lead shot in heavily hunted areas, like publicly-owned game preserves.
Branstad was asked about the issue during his weekly statehouse news conference. AUDIO of Branstad’s 25-minute news conference