Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/16/1996 03:07 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 134 am - ATWOOD CHAIR OF JOURNALISM AT U OF AA Number 220 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced the next order of business was SB 134 amended. He asked Sherman Ernouf to present the bill. Number 234 SHERMAN ERNOUF, Legislative Assistant to Senator Tim Kelly, said SB 134 acknowledges Bob Atwood's contributions to the state of Alaska, which everyone knows his contributions to the community and the state are immense. Senate Bill 134 honors Bob Atwood by establishing an endowment for the Robert Atwood journalism chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage. This chair is nationally recognized and has been in existence for the past 15 years, due in part by generous contributions by Mr. Atwood, himself. In fact, Mr. Atwood's contributions to date total in excess of $1 million and SB 134 would establish an endowment or perpetual trust which is basically a mechanism set up so that public and private entities could match contributions made by Mr. Atwood to permanently fund this chair. He commented this bill did have a fiscal note on the Senate side, in which the state would have matched Mr. Atwood's contributions to fund the chair, but it was stripped. Even though the bill has been stripped of its fiscal impact, placing this in statute would allow entities to put money into the trust or the legislature to appropriate funds at some time in the future, if so desired. He offered to answer any questions from committee members. CO-CHAIR BUNDE surmised this was an empty vessel waiting to be fulfilled. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why a statute was needed to establish an endowment at the university? MR. ERNOUF said it was his understanding that it wasn't needed to establish an endowment, but it is needed so that it is a legally recognized endowment that at some point the legislature, other public entities or other private entities could donate. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY commented the state has trust laws that accomplish this and he knew the university had a program for establishing endowments, trusts and scholarships. He inquired what the advantage would be to place this in statute. MR. ERNOUF pointed out he was not a trust attorney, but he thought what happened was just as Co-Chair Bunde said, there was a vessel that was full of cargo, but it was stripped of all its money. If this is put in statute now, the state could appropriate money to the endowment at any point in the future. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if his assumption was correct that at one time there was money that went with this bill? MR. ERNOUF responded affirmatively. Number 370 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS commented it would appear from the discussion that the university would be utilizing these funds. He asked if there would ever need to be annual legislative approval for program receipts. Number 389 MARYLOU BURTON, Director of Statewide Budget, University of Alaska, said in response to Representative Davis' question, they would need an annual appropriation for university receipts, which would be entered through the normal budget process. At this point in time, she thought they would have sufficient authority in their FY 97 budget, if these funds were to materialize. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY commented the university currently has endowments and inquired if they come to the legislature for authorization to spend that money. MS. BURTON responded no. She thought Representative Vezey's point was valid in that the legislation per se is not necessary for the university to continue the program they currently have. The intent is to focus attention on the chair and to leave the door open for opportunities. Number 446 JOY BUNDE testified in favor of SB 134 amended. She obtained her journalism degree at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and during that course she participated in the Atwood classes. Based on her experience, she felt the endowment allowed the university to bring working journalists who excelled in their fields into the journalism department. She thought the ideas brought into the classroom by these professors were filled with real-life experiences, fresh and on the competitive edge, unlike the stale, outdated material some professors use to teach students about this rapidly changing business. She concluded that this endowment greatly benefits the state by providing graduates who are qualified to go to work in local communities. Number 503 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if there were any questions or additional individuals to testify. Hearing none, he closed public testimony on SB 134 amended. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented he was first personally acquainted with Mr. Atwood in the early 1950s and has had an acquaintance with him since. He made a motion to pass SB 134 am with accompanying fiscal notes and individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.