Politics & Government

Alaska Legislative Council OKs PR campaign against Endangered Species Act

JUNEAU — The Legislative Council has decided to push ahead with the state paying for a public relations effort to curb the Endangered Species Act and the listing of polar bears, despite lawmakers saying it could create a black eye for Alaska.

The council on Thursday also rejected a recommendation by lawmakers that it try to overturn the 90-day limit imposed by Alaska voters on how long the Legislature can be in session. And it debated whether to lift the ban on legislators using Facebook in their Capitol offices.

The council is a group of 14 state representatives and senators that handles legislative business. Some had misgivings about the state funding a $1.5 million conference and public relations effort aimed at the Endangered Species Act. But no one tried to stop it.

Senate Majority Leader Johnny Ellis said it could end up giving Alaska a black eye nationally.

"We should be very mindful there's great potential for PR damage that could come from this if we let politicians do the science instead of scientists do the science," the Anchorage Democrat said.

Chugiak Republican Rep. Bill Stoltze said he doesn't like how the Endangered Species Act is being applied but has doubts about this approach to fighting it.

"Just because we have money doesn't mean it's imperative that we spend it," he said.

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