JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill that would give $1 million to a group lobbying Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling passed a hurdle in the Senate on Wednesday.
The measure is expected to come up again Friday when Democrats will attempt to add funds for tourism and salmon marketing.
The state Senate voted 15-4 to give Arctic Power $1 million to lobby Congress to open ANWR.
''Maybe with one million dollars more, we can push this over the top and finally have the right to explore for oil,'' said Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell.
The bill also included $100,000 for the village of Kaktovik to promote ANWR to visitors.
The measure faced stiff opposition from lawmakers who wanted additional funds for the other major industries in Alaska.
Gov. Tony Knowles called for $20 million to be split between salmon and tourism groups.
A glut in farm-raised salmon has depressed prices and caused hardships for some Alaska fishermen, prompting Knowles in August to declare western Alaska's commercial fishing season a disaster.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute -- which is funded through taxes on the fishing industry -- would have received $5 million for general marketing of Alaska salmon. State officials would have also used another $5 million for regional, international and niche marketing grants.
But some Republicans have been reluctant to offer up assistance to the industry. Rep. Eldon Mulder, R-Anchorage, said the salmon industry's problems require industrywide changes and an advertising campaign was not likely to help.
At the same time, tourism officials have complained that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are expected to have a chilling effect on travel this summer.
The Alaska Travel Industry Association said early bookings for this summer are down by as much as 46 percent.
''We ought to take a more holistic approach,'' said Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, who failed to win support for an amendment Wednesday to add $24.5 million for both industries.
Democrats plan to bring it up again when the bill comes up for a final vote Friday, said Minority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage.
Ellis was not optimistic that it would succeed
''I have a sneaking suspicion that in the final analysis, a bone will be thrown to tourism and the fishing industry will go untouched,'' Ellis said.
The House Finance Committee approved a bill that would set aside $6 million for the Alaska Travel Industry Association this year.
Some members were also angry that the state has given Arctic Power millions and have not received an accounting of where the money was spent. Arctic Power, classified as a nonprofit educational group, receives nearly half of its funds from state government.
Sen. Georgianna Lincoln, D-Rampart, complained that it has received $9.1 million since 1991. And lawmakers have received no plan for how the group would spend the money.
''I don't know of any other program that we do ... that we don't ask for some report back. There has to be some accountability for it,'' Lincoln said.
Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, defended the spending plan, saying Arctic Power also receives about 10,000 donations from Alaska residents and that lawmakers have enough information on the group's plans.
The measure could be called for a vote on Friday. If it does not, it will be transmitted to the governor.
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