Vetoes to face fight

Lawmakers plan to resurrect wolf control, university funding bills

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Two bills vetoed Monday by the governor may have enough support to stay on the books.

Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed Senate Bill 267, allowing land-and-shoot hunting of wolves in parts of the state, and Senate Bill 7, giving the University of Alaska 260,000 acres of state land.

A veto override session could take place as soon as Thursday.

Knowles said he vetoed SB 267, which allows same-day airborne hunting of wolves, because the bill would ``virtually nullify'' a 1996 citizen initiative that banned the practice except in cases of biological emergency.

``That initiative was supported by 58 percent of Alaska voters who said the practice of land-and-shoot hunting of wolves is unacceptable,'' Knowles, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement. ``And while certain biological emergencies may justify such a drastic measure, these circumstances are exceptional and use of this game-management tool must be tightly controlled.''

Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, sponsored the bill. He has said it is needed because the Knowles administration is not taking the action necessary to control wolves. In parts of Interior Alaska, he said, moose and caribou populations are suffering due to wolf predation and wolves are reportedly killing pet dogs.

The bill would allow hunters to fly in and shoot wolves the same day in parts of Alaska that have been established as wolf-control areas, currently about 5 percent of the state.

``I was expecting it,'' Sen. Pete Kelly said of the veto. He thinks there are enough votes to override it. ``I had enough with some to spare. I've actually picked up a few.''

Knowles said he vetoed Senate Bill 7, which transfers 260,000 acres of state land to the university, partly because that amounts to a ``dedicated'' source of funding for the university - something that's not in the public interest and is inconsistent with the state constitution, which prohibits dedicating a source of state funding to a single purpose.

Knowles said he supports providing more funding for the university, but SB 7 isn't the way because it won't solve the university's immediate financial needs.

``It is an inefficient and unsuccessful way to secure reliable funding for the university. Rather, this bill will complicate state land management, contribute to significant land-use conflicts and likely lead to years of litigation reminiscent of the Mental Health Trust Lands case.''

Sen. Robin Taylor, a Wrangell Republican who sponsored the lands bill, said no one has ever said his measure would resolve the university's immediate funding problem.

``This is to help the university, five, 10, 15, 20 years from now. It takes people of vision to look that far,'' Taylor said.

That bill passed the House and Senate with 41 votes, one more than needed to override a veto.



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