New rules for the way the Natural Resources Department makes rules are being argued in the State Senate. Critics of the Natural Resources Department say the agency is sometimes arrogant in its regulation-making, sometimes pushes an agenda instead of enforcing the law, and sometimes cannot give practical reasons for some of the things it requires property owners and businesses to do. Changing the way DNR makes environmental rules has been a priority for Republicans for years. And now they have the legislative majority, and Senators such as David Klindt are pushing for change. But Democrats, who have raised the opposition so far, say the Republican plans take away some of the flexibility the Department needs to deal with anticipated problems. And Seantors such as Joan Bray of St. Louis say the Republicans are underestimating how much more their plan will cost the taxpayers. DNR says it will need to hire about 150 new people to provide the detailed information Klindt’s bill requires, costing the state a half-million dollars at a time when the state is an estimated one-billion dollars short of what it needs for next year’s budget. The Senate will be talking more about the plan later.
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