Knowles to ask Legislature for more anti-terrorism funds

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles will ask the Legislature for additional funding to pay for state anti-terrorism measures, including creating a new office to oversee state security concerns.

A new state office of homeland security would serve as a liaison to the new federal cabinet-level post created by President Bush, Knowles officials said.

State, military, law enforcement, transportation and health officials have been under greater workloads to provide additional security and respond to anthrax threats, he said.

''The anti-terrorism efforts that we are having to support are really straining those services,'' Knowles said.

Next week he plans to ask legislative leaders for more funds for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, to pay for security costs. Knowles said security costs will also have to be incorporated in future budgets.

Providing state assistance in securing the 800-mile trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline could be part of future costs, Knowles said.

Security along the pipeline has been under scrutiny after a bullet punctured the line recently causing a 285,000-gallon oil spill.

Knowles provided no specifics on the future plans or costs to state services to date. A report is expected within 30 days to answer some of those questions, said Bob King, Knowles' press secretary.

About 230 National Guard troops were activated to provide security at 19 Alaska airports, at an estimated cost of $14 million. Bush vowed to reimburse states for that cost.

The recent threat of anthrax has meant a sizable jump in the work for state lab technicians, law enforcement and environmental officials. Other state departments have also had to provide resources to moniter state security in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The state Public Health Laboratory has analyzed 21 samples to determine whether they contain anthrax. To date, none has tested positive for the bacteria.

Departments of Military and Veterans Affairs, Natural Resources, Transportation and Public Facilities, and Administration and Alaska State Troopers have all experienced additional costs, King said.

House Speaker Brian Porter, R-Anchorage, said he didn't anticipate a fight in the GOP-controlled Legislature for additional security funds. But he could not predict how the Legislature would react to state funds going to pipeline security.

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which operates the pipeline, provides security along the line.

''I'm not sure of exactly what additional level of security the state could, or should provide,'' Porter said.

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