Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/16/1996 03:07 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE surmised this was an empty vessel waiting to be                
 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           
 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             
 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.                                      

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