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Friday, February 11, 2005

Ind. Gov't. - [Updated] More on Daniels cabinet appointments; and more on DNR

The Indianapolis Star has a longer story today on Gov. Daniels' appointment to head the Department of Natural Resources. A quote from the report by Tammy Webber:

Kyle J. Hupfer, 32, a partner at Ice Miller, will inherit a position held for the past three years by a popular director, John Goss, and an agency struggling with decreasing state funding and staff to oversee hunting and fishing, conservation, state museums and parks, floodway filling, coal mining and oil and gas drilling.

This was Daniels' final Cabinet appointment. The governor said he delayed filling the post until he found "just the right person."

I was struck by the statement that "This was Daniels' final Cabinet appointment." First, what positions comprise the "cabinet"? Second, I would think that the State Department of Health would be an important part of any cabinet, and no health commissioner has yet been appointed, although I'm told a new deputy commissioner named Susan Uhl starts on Monday.

[Update at 11:05 a.m. - I'm told that "During the news teleconference yesterday, Daniels said this was his final cabinet appointment." Actually, I think there are a bunch of spots yet unfilled (or maybe they are not "cabinet" positions), such as the heads of the professional licensing agency, the health professions bureau, and of course the now again vacant insurance commissioner position. Also financial institutions, unless I missed the announcement. And perhaps more. But by far the most important, in my view, is state health commissioner.]

The story also contains quotes from Dick Mercier, president of the Indiana Sportsmen's Roundtable and Paula Yeager, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, both of whom wish the the new director well. In addition:

Yeager and Mercier also hope Daniels and Hupfer will oppose two bills: One would legalize "canned" hunts, in which deer are shot on private farms, sometimes while they're penned, and the other would divert money from the Heritage Trust Fund -- set aside from the sale of environmental license plates to buy public land -- for park maintenance.

Mercier worries that Daniels' focus on fixing state parks will provide leverage for the license plate bill.

"If the license plate bill passes, I will immediately turn in my environmental license plate and would recommend to (members of his organization) that they never buy one again," he said.

The license plate bill is HB 1451, which is currently in House committee. This Feb. 5th ILB entry quoted from a strong column against the bill by Don Mulligan, who writes "Outdoors with Don" for the The Kendallville Evening Star & Herald Republican.

The "canned deer hunt" bill is HB 1780. Here is one of many pieces criticizing it; this one from the 1/24/05 Indianapolis Star.

Finally, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has an editorial today about the dangers posed by Indiana's poorly maintained dams. A quote:

As the Indiana Department of Natural Resources presses dam owners to make safety improvements, the state itself owns dams needing significant repairs and lacking a way to warn residents of an emergency.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 11, 2005 07:45 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government