Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/01/2014 08:30 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 21(FIN) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 127(JUD) Out of Committee
HOUSE BILL NO. 21                                                                                                             
     "An Act relating to the length of a school week; and                                                                       
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
9:19:18 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDY   MILLS,  SPECIAL   ASSISTANT   TO  THE   COMMISSIONER,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT  OF ADMINISTRATION,  expressed  his apology  that                                                                    
the fiscal note  was not addressed in  the committee's prior                                                                    
hearing of HB 21.                                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Stoltze  asked  for  further  explanation  of  the                                                                    
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
Mr. Mills discussed  the new fiscal note  from Department of                                                                    
Administration,  Centralized   Administrative  Services.  He                                                                    
noted  changes  in  the prior  year's  CS  necessitating  an                                                                    
additional  table.  The  change required  reprogramming  and                                                                    
other changes  at the Division  of Retirement  and Benefits.                                                                    
He discussed the  cost estimates listed in  the fiscal note.                                                                    
The reprogramming  was related to communication  between the                                                                    
division  and the  federal government.  He  stated that  the                                                                    
Central Retirement System (CRS)  was the system that allowed                                                                    
for  tracking   of  the  retiree  data   for  the  division.                                                                    
Calculation  systems,   found  on  the   division's  website                                                                    
provided  self-assessment tools  that  allowed employees  to                                                                    
track  their retirement.  Statements were  delivered to  the                                                                    
members and  brochures were sent  to notify  employees about                                                                    
the change to the system.                                                                                                       
9:22:31 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Neuman wondered about  the fiscal note's proposed                                                                    
$100 thousand dollar expense. He  stated that the Department                                                                    
of  Administration received  approximately  $100 million  in                                                                    
capital  budget   items  related  to   Integrated  Resources                                                                    
Information Services  (IRIS) upgrades. He asked  whether the                                                                    
changes  needed  for  the legislation  could  be  made  with                                                                    
already existing resources.                                                                                                     
9:23:27 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Costello asked about  the state's approach to                                                                    
programmers. She  expressed confusion regarding  the payment                                                                    
of computer programmers already employed by the department.                                                                     
Mr. Mills replied that certain  programmers would absorb the                                                                    
changes proposed  in the fiscal  note. The numbers  were for                                                                    
outside  contracted  costs.  He  stated  that  an  alternate                                                                    
schedule might seem  simple, but the brochures  were a fixed                                                                    
9:25:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Costello  discussed   her  experience  as  a                                                                    
teacher  for  Service  High School.  She  wondered  how  the                                                                    
employee  hours could  be translated  into  portions of  the                                                                    
year  as  outlined   in  the  bill.  She   wondered  if  the                                                                    
department  could apply  retirement benefits  for a  teacher                                                                    
contracted for one-half of the year.                                                                                            
Mr. Mills  replied that  the schedule  proposed in  the bill                                                                    
was an alternate schedule. He  noted that utilization of the                                                                    
uncodified  code  would  have spawned  multiple  alternative                                                                    
calendars.   He  suggested   that  further   information  be                                                                    
provided by the division.                                                                                                       
Representative  Costello  asked  if  the  state  moved  from                                                                    
hiring  full-time  to  contractual  programmers,  would  the                                                                    
charge to  the state change.  She wondered why  the practice                                                                    
of contractual programmers was not utilized.                                                                                    
9:28:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Austerman commented  that  the  state reduced  the                                                                    
number of  days for a retiree  from 172 to 150.  He asked if                                                                    
the change  increased the retirement  cost to the  state. He                                                                    
asked about the  changes needed in the  retirement system as                                                                    
a result of the legislation.                                                                                                    
Representative Wilson  stated that the bill  would not allow                                                                    
for an  employee's premature retirement. The  shorter school                                                                    
weeks would equal a full year of school.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Austerman noted  that  the days  allowing for  one                                                                    
year's worth of retirement had changed.                                                                                         
Representative Wilson explained that  fewer days were needed                                                                    
because the days were longer.                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Austerman did not understand the concept.                                                                              
Co-Chair   Stoltze  understood   that   the  teachers   were                                                                    
currently  eligible for  retirement and  the changes  in the                                                                    
bill allowed that continuity of  accrual despite the shorter                                                                    
work/school weeks.                                                                                                              
Co-Chair  Austerman requested  further understanding  of the                                                                    
cumulative effect of the legislation.                                                                                           
Co-Chair Stoltze  asked Mr.  Mills if  he could  envision an                                                                    
addition of a new employee under the proposed calculation.                                                                      
Mr.  Mills  assumed  that  a  full year  would  lead  to  an                                                                    
insignificant difference in time accrual.                                                                                       
9:31:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Thompson  stated  dissatisfaction  with  the                                                                    
fiscal  note.  He  understood that  the  part-time  teachers                                                                    
worked a certain  amount of days. He did  not understand why                                                                    
new statements would  be required. He assumed  that the cost                                                                    
of the statements was built into the division's budget.                                                                         
Mr.  Mills replied  that the  fiscal note  included a  large                                                                    
number of  contractor costs. He  noted that the  fiscal note                                                                    
would increase in its request  if the entire change required                                                                    
contractual programmers.                                                                                                        
9:34:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Neuman OFFERED  a conceptual  AMENDMENT to  zero                                                                    
out fiscal  note one from the  Department of Administration,                                                                    
Office of  Management and Budget  (OMB) number 64.  He MOVED                                                                    
that  the Department  of Administration  absorb the  cost of                                                                    
the changes proposed in the legislation.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Stoltze  supported  the  change.  There  being  NO                                                                    
OBJECTION,  it  was  so  ordered. Fiscal  note  1  from  the                                                                    
Department of  Administration, OMB  component number  64 was                                                                    
changed to reflect ZERO fiscal impact.                                                                                          
Co-Chair  Stoltze RESCINDED  the prior  action made  to move                                                                    
the bill out of committee.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered. CSHB 21 (FIN) was back before the committee.                                                                        
9:36:17 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara  OFFERED  a  conceptual  AMENDMENT.  He                                                                    
pointed  to  page  2,  line 18,  section  C  addressing  the                                                                    
reduction  of school  days and  the provision  of retirement                                                                    
benefits. He stated that some  school districts would reduce                                                                    
school   hours  by   20  percent.   He  noted   the  minimum                                                                    
instruction hours mandated by  the legislation was 740 hours                                                                    
for lower  and 900  hours for higher  grades. He  noted that                                                                    
many schools had greater than 1000 instructional hours.                                                                         
Representative  Gara  discussed  page  2,  line  3  and  the                                                                    
commissioner's  ability  to  reduce instructional  days,  as                                                                    
long as  instructional hours remained comparable.  He stated                                                                    
that  the commissioner  had reduced  school  days below  180                                                                    
days in one community  recently. The legislation reduced the                                                                    
number of hours further.  He expressed concern about cutting                                                                    
the number of school hours.                                                                                                     
Representative  Gara  MOVED   the  conceptual  amendment  to                                                                    
retain page 2, line 18 through page 3, line 9.                                                                                  
Co-Chair Stoltze stated that the  committee would not accept                                                                    
such  a   conceptual  amendment.  He  requested   a  written                                                                    
9:39:33 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Costello  appreciated Representative  Gara's                                                                    
point. She  stated that the  statute dictated  minimum hours                                                                    
constituting  a day.  School  districts  often exceeded  the                                                                    
requirements. She  stated that  the opportunity  for shorter                                                                    
days  existed, yet  districts chose  not to  take advantage.                                                                    
She   stated  that   the   proposed  legislation   addressed                                                                    
alternative  schedules  versus  shorter teaching  time.  She                                                                    
mentioned  the  concept  of  year-round  school  as  another                                                                    
option for  an alternative  schedule. She mentioned  a study                                                                    
in  the  committee  members'  packets  related  to  improved                                                                    
results in math and  reading with alternative schedules. She                                                                    
believed that  the concept of  minimum school hours  per day                                                                    
was already in  statute and did not belong in  the bill. She                                                                    
stated  that the  policy  call was  unique  and demanded  an                                                                    
opinion from the House Education  Committee. She spoke about                                                                    
the school  board and public's involvement  in all decisions                                                                    
related  to school  week changes.  The proposed  legislation                                                                    
was  tied  to  the  wishes  of  the  parents  and  education                                                                    
community. She  opposed the conceptual amendment  offered by                                                                    
Representative Gara.                                                                                                            
Representative Wilson  stated that  a school  district could                                                                    
choose  a   four-day  school   week  without   the  proposed                                                                    
legislation. She noted that the  issue of teacher retirement                                                                    
was  the reason  for the  proposed legislation.  Because the                                                                    
teachers were working  more days and hours  in one district,                                                                    
the  full-years' worth  of  retirement  was not  accessible.                                                                    
Upon the bill's inception,  she asked the commissioner about                                                                    
the constitution  of a  full work day.  She opined  that the                                                                    
bill had flexibility without the amendment.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Stoltze stated  that an  amendment was  not before                                                                    
the committee.                                                                                                                  
Representative  Munoz  discussed  Representative  Costello's                                                                    
reference  to the  report.  She noted  that  in the  report,                                                                    
Montana shifted  to a four-day  week, but retained  the 1000                                                                    
hour  requirement. She  wondered  why the  bill shifted  the                                                                    
requirement in Alaska.                                                                                                          
Representative  Wilson replied  that  the  hours in  statute                                                                    
were used to determine the  bill's proposal. She stated that                                                                    
each district  used a different  number of total  hours. She                                                                    
suggested that  instituting one number for  the entire state                                                                    
might negatively  impact some  districts. She  discussed the                                                                    
issue with  the commissioner  and proposed that  the problem                                                                    
be addressed in  a separate bill with a  study about whether                                                                    
an increase  in hours would  provide a better  education for                                                                    
Alaska's students.                                                                                                              
Vice-Chair Neuman asked  about page 2, lines  3-6 related to                                                                    
the commissioner's  approval of  plans. He wondered  why the                                                                    
section was changed. He understood  the local control issue,                                                                    
but   he  opined   that  an   alternative   view  from   the                                                                    
commissioner would prove advantageous.                                                                                          
9:46:57 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson stated  that  the commissioner  would                                                                    
review  the plan  with a  checklist. The  mechanism mandated                                                                    
community meetings. She believed  that the communities would                                                                    
make the  best judgments  for their  unique area  needs. The                                                                    
commissioner  would   approve  the   plans,  based   on  the                                                                    
Vice-Chair Neuman asked for details about the checklist.                                                                        
Representative  Wilson  stated  that the  community  meeting                                                                    
must  address  a  plan  for  days/hours  needed  during  the                                                                    
shortened school  week. The plan  was then submitted  to the                                                                    
commissioner who  reviewed it for necessary  components. She                                                                    
stated that  outcomes were reviewed using  standardized test                                                                    
9:49:03 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara opined that  a problem arose in removing                                                                    
the commissioner's  discretion. He  pointed to page  2, line                                                                    
11, "if  the school district  shows that they  are providing                                                                    
the minimum  of instruction"  he stated that  upon community                                                                    
approval, the  decision would  be made.  He stated  that the                                                                    
commissioner could  allow for an alternative  schedule under                                                                    
current  law.  The  commissioner   was  not  amenable  to  a                                                                    
reduction to  700 instructional hours. Current  law retained                                                                    
the   districts   with   greater  than   statutory   minimum                                                                    
instructional  hours. The  bill mandated  the commissioner's                                                                    
approval  of  the   statutory  minimum  following  community                                                                    
members' decision.                                                                                                              
9:51:52 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Neuman MOVED  to  REPORT CSHB  21  (FIN) out  of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying  revised  fiscal  notes.  Representative  Munoz                                                                    
OBJECTED. She  wished to see  the amended fiscal  note prior                                                                    
to reporting out the bill.                                                                                                      
Representative  Gara  apologized  that  he did  not  have  a                                                                    
written amendment.                                                                                                              
9:53:07 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Costello  shared   that  her  office  worked                                                                    
tirelessly reviewing  hours of school days.  She stated that                                                                    
a school  currently following  state law  would pay  a large                                                                    
organizational  price for  the proposed  mandate. She  urged                                                                    
the   legislature   to   revisit  the   issue   of   minimum                                                                    
instructional hours.  She cautioned the committee  to review                                                                    
all pertinent information before  proposing a minimum number                                                                    
of instructional hours to all Alaskan schools.                                                                                  
9:54:23 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Gara apologized for  not having his amendment                                                                    
available   in  writing.   He  agreed   with  Representative                                                                    
Costello and did not recommend  that the committee mandate a                                                                    
minimum  number of  instructional hours.  He noted  that the                                                                    
commissioner  currently   decided  the  minimum   number  of                                                                    
instructional  hours  based  on   his  determination  of  an                                                                    
adequate  number   of  school  hours  to   protect  academic                                                                    
achievement.  He pointed  to page  2,  lines 3-6  indicating                                                                    
that the commissioner  could approve the number  of days and                                                                    
the  number of  instructional  hours. The  bill required  an                                                                    
acceptance  of the  school district's  decision to  instruct                                                                    
for  the minimum  number of  allowable  hours. He  disagreed                                                                    
with the bill for that one  reason. He wished to continue to                                                                    
allow the  commissioner to make  the decision  regarding the                                                                    
minimum number  of instructional  hours for  each individual                                                                    
9:56:12 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson stated  that  the commissioner  would                                                                    
not allow  a four-day  school week without  the legislation.                                                                    
She  stated that  the commissioner  had denied  all requests                                                                    
for a four-day school week.                                                                                                     
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
IN FAVOR: Holmes,   Neuman,   Thompson,  Wilson,   Costello,                                                                    
Edgmon, Stoltze, Austerman                                                                                                      
OPPOSED: Guttenberg, Munoz, Gara                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (8/3).                                                                                                        
CSHB  21  (FIN)  was  REPORTED  out  of  committee  with  no                                                                    
recommendation and  with one new  zero fiscal note  from the                                                                    
Department of  Education and Early  Development and  one new                                                                    
zero fiscal note from the Department of Administration.                                                                         
9:58:54 AM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 278 CS WORKDRAFT FIN 28-GH2716-G.pdf HFIN 4/1/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 278
HB 278 Summary of Changes HB 278 - CS(FIN).pdf HFIN 4/1/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 278