ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An 11-member subsistence panel appointed by Gov. Tony Knowles was set to go to work Tuesday morning crafting language for a proposed subsistence amendment to the state constitution.
Knowles told a meeting of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Monday that he's prepared to call the Legislature into special session to consider the amendment once it's drafted.
In his speech Monday, the governor also repeated his call for a package of federal incentives to help the economics of a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.
He said he would travel to the nation's capital later this month to lobby members of Congress to support a package of incentives including accelerated depreciation for the pipeline, an investment tax credit, and a gas tax credit. That trip will also include lobbying for opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Knowles said.
The subsistence group led by Attorney General Bruce Botelho was to meet starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage. Knowles said their job was to write a subsistence amendment for the state constitution that protects subsistence for rural Alaskans and allows the state to regain management of fish and game across the state.
The new group is following up on the conclusions of the subsistence summit Knowles called last month. Most members of the new panel attended that summit.
''With all the momentum, I believe Alaska is on the brink of breaking the gridlock that, if left unattended, could drive us apart,'' Knowles said. Legislators must allow Alaskans to vote in 2002 on a subsistence constitutional amendment, the governor said.
Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, said after the governor's speech that Knowles wasn't taking the needed steps to build consensus. He said the task force could have included others who represent a broader range of approaches to the issue.
''If you really want to get to 14 in the Senate and 27 in the House, you have to bring Alaskans together,'' Leman said. Those are the numbers of legislators needed in each house to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Serving on Knowles' panel are former state Sen. Al Adams of Kotzebue, along with Roy Huhndorf, a co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, Byron Mallott of the First Alaskans Foundation and Carl Marrs, chief executive of Cook Inlet Region Inc.
Also chosen were two former Alaska attorneys general, Charlie Cole of Fairbanks and Av Gross of Juneau. Alaska State Chamber president Rob Shoaf will be in the group, along with Resource Development Council chairman Bob Stiles.
Rounding out the panel are sportfishing advocate Bob Penney and David Bedford, who heads the subsistence committee of the United Fishermen of Alaska, an organization of commercial fishermen.
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