Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

04/11/2011 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 15 STUDENT ATHLETE TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 15(JUD) Out of Committee
*+ HB 224 SALES OF NICOTINE PRODUCTS TO MINOR TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ HJR 16 CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
             HJR 16 - CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[Contains mention  of HB 145,  which would provide  the necessary                                                               
statutory  changes for  the establishment  of a  "parental choice                                                               
scholarship program", but which  first requires voter approval of                                                               
HJR 16's proposed changes to the Alaska State Constitution.]                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:29:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO. 16,  Proposing  amendments  to  the                                                               
Constitution of  the State  of Alaska relating  to state  aid for                                                               
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:30:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER,  speaking as  the sponsor,  explained that                                                               
if  passed by  the legislature,  HJR  16 would  place before  the                                                               
voters  proposed  amendments  to the  Alaska  State  Constitution                                                               
[that  would then  allow for  statutory  changes to  be made  via                                                               
HB 145,  which  is  proposing to  establish  a  "parental  choice                                                               
scholarship program",  thereby enabling public funds  to be spent                                                               
on private schools;  without prior voter approval of  HJR 16, the                                                               
changes  proposed   via  HB   145  would   be  unconstitutional].                                                               
Specifically, Section 1  of HJR 16 is proposing  to amend Article                                                               
VII, Section 1, of the  Alaska State Constitution by deleting the                                                               
sentence,  "No money  shall be  paid  from public  funds for  the                                                               
direct  benefit of  any religious  or  other private  educational                                                               
institution."; and  Section 2 is  proposing to amend  Article IX,                                                               
Section  6, by  adding the  words,  "; however,  nothing in  this                                                               
section shall  prevent payment from  public funds for  the direct                                                               
educational benefit  of students as  provided by law".   Although                                                               
the  proposed  "parental  choice scholarship  program"  would  be                                                               
limited  to providing  public funding  for private  K-12 schools,                                                               
the constitutional changes  proposed by HJR 16  address the issue                                                               
of  public funding  as it  relates to  all private  schools.   In                                                               
conclusion,  he  asked the  committee  to  pass  HJR 16  so  that                                                               
Alaskans will  have an opportunity  vote on its  proposed changes                                                               
to the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:35:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN   ALCANTRA,  Director,   Government  Relations,   NEA-Alaska                                                               
(National Education Association,  Alaska Affiliate), relayed that                                                               
the  members of  the  NEA-Alaska  strongly oppose  HJR  16.   The                                                               
resolution  doesn't  ensure  that   religious  or  other  private                                                               
schools will  accept every child,  or that the teachers  in those                                                               
schools are certified,  or that those schools will  have the same                                                               
testing requirements  as public schools.   Public schools  make a                                                               
commitment to  all children -  regardless of a  child's religious                                                               
background  or learning  capabilities -  whereas private  schools                                                               
don't.   He  opined  that  because over  90  percent of  Alaska's                                                               
children  attend public  school, education-reform  efforts should                                                               
instead  focus  on  the  schools that  benefit  the  majority  of                                                               
Alaska's  children  - public  schools.    He then  provided  some                                                               
suggestions regarding  what those  efforts ought  to entail.   In                                                               
conclusion, he  opined that the Alaska  State Constitution should                                                               
be left as is, and reiterated  that the members of the NEA-Alaska                                                               
oppose HJR 16.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA, in  response to questions, offered  his belief that                                                               
passage  of HJR  16 would  result in  significantly less  funding                                                               
being available  for public schools; relayed  that the NEA-Alaska                                                               
would  oppose  any  resolution that  would  funnel  public  funds                                                               
towards  private or  religious schools;  and opined  that because                                                               
HJR 16's  proposed constitutional  amendment references  law that                                                               
doesn't yet  exist, HJR 16  shouldn't move forward  without being                                                               
accompanied  by  HB  145,  which  would  establish  that  as-yet-                                                               
nonexistent law.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:46:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM FINK  said he endorses HJR  16, and hopes that  the committee                                                               
will pass it  out soon.  Characterizing  the existing prohibition                                                               
against public funding for private  schools as discriminatory, he                                                               
relayed  that he  is in  support of  HB 145,  which requires  the                                                               
passage of HJR  16.  He opined that the  problem with the current                                                               
education  system, which  he  characterized  as an  un-improvable                                                               
monopoly, is that it continues  to receive funding.  The proposed                                                               
legislation could  provide an alternative,  he ventured,  in that                                                               
once the aforementioned "parental  choice scholarship program" is                                                               
in place, parents  could pick the private school  of their choice                                                               
and  public funding  for  that school  would  be forthcoming  but                                                               
without any  new governmental restrictions.   Currently,  only 10                                                               
percent of parents  nationally can afford to  send their children                                                               
to private  school.  This  is wrong and  ought to be  changed, he                                                               
opined, because  although all parents  pay taxes, only  those who                                                               
don't  send their  children to  public  school have  to then  pay                                                               
extra for their children's education.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:50:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  BOYLE expressed  disfavor  with  the existing  prohibition                                                               
against  public funding  for private  schools,  and provided  his                                                               
understanding  of  how  that  prohibition  came  to  be;  of  how                                                               
different courts  over time  have ruled  in cases  involving that                                                               
prohibition; and that in some  states, parents can receive public                                                               
funds  for the  private schools  of their  choice, schools  which                                                               
they could  not otherwise  afford.  In  conclusion, he  asked the                                                               
committee to  pass HJR 16  so that the  public could vote  on the                                                               
issue.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:55:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB FLINT indicated  that he views the  legislation's proposal as                                                               
a  help  to  parents  and  students,  enabling  them  obtain  the                                                               
education that  best fits them,  not as  an attack on  the public                                                               
school system - the normal  and dominant way people are educated.                                                               
The constitutional  duty is to  educate students, not  maintain a                                                               
particular educational institution.   In conclusion, he indicated                                                               
a belief  that HJR 16's  proposed constitutional  amendments were                                                               
worthy of going before the voters.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:57:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHLEEN TODD said  she opposes both HB 145 and  HJR 16, offering                                                               
her belief that the legislation  would create chaos in the school                                                               
system and  be a detriment to  a lot of children.   Specifically,                                                               
HJR  16 would  allow  for  a draw  on  public  funds for  private                                                               
purposes  but without  also  providing  any guidelines  regarding                                                               
what  is  actually  taught or  requiring  verification  that  the                                                               
teaching  methods  are successful.    She  predicted that  people                                                               
would not  be in favor of  such legislation if they  knew that it                                                               
would  result in  their public  funds being  provided to  private                                                               
schools that teach their students  [to engage in military] jihad,                                                               
or to  private schools that  teach their male students  more than                                                               
their  female students,  or  to private  schools  that refuse  to                                                               
teach  students with  disabilities.   Furthermore,  even if  such                                                               
private  schools  could  be  required to  teach  only  "the  main                                                               
subjects"  with public  funding  being restricted  to just  those                                                               
subjects, there  is no  guarantee that  students would  be taught                                                               
together and be allowed to  interact with each other, rather than                                                               
being segregated  because of ideology,  gender, or religion.   On                                                               
the question  of why not  simply let the  proposed constitutional                                                               
amendment  go before  the  voters  so that  they  can decide  the                                                               
issue, she  characterized that as an  abdication of legislature's                                                               
responsibility to  make decisions regarding  appropriations after                                                               
having first analyzed all the  ramifications.  In conclusion, she                                                               
urged the committee to vote "No" on HJR 16.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HJR 16.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER clarified  that although HJR 16  and HB 145                                                               
are supplemental to  each other, they not  the same; furthermore,                                                               
the policies, standards, and guidelines  associated with HB 145 -                                                               
which he characterized  as being about school choice  - are still                                                               
to be  decided upon.  He  shared his belief that  if [both pieces                                                               
of legislation  pass and] parents  choose to send their  child to                                                               
an Islamic  school - for example  - as long as  that school meets                                                               
state and  federal education standards, that  would be completely                                                               
consistent  with the  values of  the United  States and  with the                                                               
intent of the legislation.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES -  expressing  favor with  the concept  of                                                               
school choice  - said  her concern, however,  is that  passage of                                                               
HJR  16 would  result in  education funding  being diverted  away                                                               
from public schools, and thus she would be voting against it.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER, in  response to  questions and  comments,                                                               
relayed  that there  is  a significant  fiscal  note attached  to                                                               
HB 145, and  offered his understanding that  there is information                                                               
available documenting that [passage  of legislation pertaining to                                                               
school  choice]  does  not  harm the  public  school  system  and                                                               
instead improves it.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:08:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON moved  to report HJR 16  out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and [the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes].                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives  Pruitt, Thompson,                                                               
Lynn, Keller, and  Gatto voted in favor of reporting  HJR 16 from                                                               
committee.   Representatives Gruenberg  and Holmes  voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore, HJR 16 was  reported out of the  House Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee by a vote of 5-2.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB15 Sponsor Statement 04-04-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Sectional Analysis 04-04-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 CS (EDC) Version B 03-31-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Version A 01-18-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Fiscal Note-EED-TLS 03-11-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Article Boston University 08-18-10.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Article Brain Injury Association of Washington.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Article Time 02-03-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Letter AATA 03-15-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Letter ABIN.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Letter NFL 03-15-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB15 Supporting Documents-Packet Youth Concussion.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HJR16 Sponsor Statement 04-06-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Version A 02-09-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Relevant Statute 14.17.410.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Fiscal Note-OOG-DOE 03-17-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HB145 Version I 02-09-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 145
HJR 16
HJR16 Supporting Documents-Article jconline 04-06-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Supporting Documents-Article Rethinking Schools 09-13-10.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Supporting Documents-Court Case Sheldon Jackson v State 08-28-79.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HJR16 Supporting Documents-Memo Legal Services 12-01-10.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HJR 16
HB224 Sponsor Statement 04-08-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Version A 04-04-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Relevant Statutes 11.76.100.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Fiscal Note-DHSS-BHA 04-08-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Fiscal Note-LAW-CIV 04-08-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224
HB224 Supporting Documents-Back Up Materials 04-08-11.pdf HJUD 4/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 224