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BOBBYE PYKE, DAILY CITIZEN

Changes to scale back Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and remove public notices in newspapers where two of the big issues raised at Rep. Mark Born’s (R – Beaver Dam) listening session, Monday.

At The Watermark, 209 S. Center St., Born took note and replied to remarks related to the proposed 2017-’19 biennial state budget and made a comment at the top of meeting that these listening sessions will focus on the state budget and not matters in Washington D.C. The state legislature will vote on the budget later this year.

Opposition to breaking apart the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was a popular topic.

Jim Congdon, who was involved with the DNR for almost 40 years was one of the more outspoken advocates against breaking up the department. He said that Born should take these cuts seriously.

He added that in his time with the DNR, he has been through at least three reorganizations and seven different department secretaries. He said that his cynical thoughts lead him to think that, by splitting the department up, this could make it easier to de-fund the department.

One other popular issue was the push to eliminate requirements for municipalities to run public notices in newspapers. Walker has proposed that it would allow local agencies the freedom to post public notices online instead of in a newspaper. The reason being is that it could save money for taxpayers and push local municipalities into the 21st century.

Aaron Holbrook, editor of the Daily Citizen, said the provision in the budget would reduce local government transparency. Additionally, he said that he sees the industry going completely digital in the future, but that isn’t the case right now.

Holbrook said that surveys conducted as part of recent school referendums, revealed that 70 percent said the local newspapers was their main source of news about the school district. Also, he said some smaller municipalities don’t have the ability to quickly and efficiently post notices online.

Lori Schultz, a town of Trenton resident, said that in order for her to read government agendas, she has to drive to the Trenton town hall unless she can get them in the paper.

Born said that it may not be the right time to require this action and said that perhaps it isn’t worth the money that would be saved. He added that it is good to see that everyone in the room appeared to agree on this issue.

Other comments made during the listening session tied to Lemon Laws, district maps, education funding, deep wells, mining, gas tax, recreational marijuana, state treasurer, school vouchers and factory farming.

Ben Rueter covers Beaver Dam, Horicon and Juneau city governments for the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.