Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/10/2013 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 91-HAZING 8:02:22 AM CHAIR STEVENS announced the consideration of SB 91. 8:02:27 AM SENATOR DUNLEAVY moved to adopt the CS for SB 91, labeled 28- LS0720\N, as the working document. CHAIR STEVENS objected for discussion purposes. TIM LAMKIN, Staff, Senator Gary Stevens, Alaska State Legislature, explained the changes in version N. He began with a change on page 1, line 6; language was added that is consistent with existing criminal code. It now says "substantial risk of serious physical injury." The second change is on line 9 of the original bill, where the language was changed from "normal and customary activity" to "arises from conduct reasonably expected through participation." MR. LAMKIN related that, in response to testimony at the last hearing about a study that indicated church groups have some of the highest percentages of students involved in hazing, faith- based groups are included on page 2, lines 1 and 2. He noted that the next change is on page 2, lines 4 and 5 of the original bill, and addresses penalties. The reference to hazing as a class B felony is removed. On page 3, line 8, the wording is changed to say "to report the results" to the appropriate committee. He related that in version A, section 7, lines 14 to 18, deal with the recourse for failing to report hazing. 8:07:37 AM CHAIR STEVENS clarified that was found on page 3, line 16. MR. LAMKIN summarized the final change on page 4, line 1; the definition of hazing was changed to "an act knowingly committed." On page 4, line 5, "normal and customary" was again changed to "arises from conduct reasonably expected through participation." On line 9, "faith-based group" was again added. 8:08:47 AM SENATOR GARDNER suggested that changing the consequences in Section 1 addresses ACLU's concerns. 8:09:16 AM SENATOR ANNA FAIRCLOUGH, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, answered questions related to SB 91. She related that she received the ACLU's letter late last night and she hoped the changes in the CS address their concerns. CHAIR STEVENS noted that a representative from the ACLU would be testifying. 8:10:39 AM SENATOR FAIRCLOUGH pointed out that when making changes to the bill, something was missed on page 3, line 17. She said it is the sponsor's intent that "failure to report results in appropriate disciplinary action by the school." The words "by the school" were inadvertently omitted by the drafter. SENATOR GARDNER said that since the requirement applies to volunteers, she did not think the school has a role in disciplining volunteers. CHAIR STEVENS suggested also adding religious organizations on page 3, as well. SENATOR FAIRCLOUGH replied that the section is specific to activities at schools. 8:12:08 AM TALLEY TEAL, Staff, Senator Anna Fairclough, Alaska State Legislature, provided information related to SB 91. She explained that the aforementioned change was requested and simply left off by the drafter. CHAIR STEVENS stated it was an easy change and he wished to move the bill from committee today. He suggested an amendment. SENATOR FAIRCLOUGH deferred to the committee's wishes. She said she believes a school should have some type of oversight in a facility that they are maintaining. SENATOR GARDNER moved to adopt Conceptual Amendment 1: add "by the school" on page 3, line 17, after "disciplinary action". There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted. CHAIR STEVENS asked if the Department of Education and Early Development had any concerns or comments. LES MORSE, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development, spoke in support of SB 91. He said the department does not have any issues with the changes made to the bill. CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony. 8:13:50 AM EMILY SEXTON, President, Alaska Association of Student Government (AASG), testified in support of SB 91. She related that AASG believes that all students should feel safe from bullying in their schools and bullies should understand the severity of their actions. JEFFREY MITTMAN, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), testified in support of SB 91. He thanked the sponsor for introducing the bill, noting that hazing and bullying are problems that are endemic across the country and are often targeted at the most vulnerable students. A bill that states hazing will not be tolerated in the schools is very important and will have a very positive effect. He said he has had a chance to review the CS and it does address many of ACLU's concerns. He hoped to work with the sponsor and the next committee on any future revisions of the bill. He brought up discriminatory issues regarding the criminalization of students, but stated that is not the intention of SB 91. 8:16:40 AM CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of the Alaska School Boards (AASB), testified in support of SB 91. He said AASB's mission is to advocate for children and youth, assist local school boards, and provide a quality education focus on student achievement through effective local governance. He noted an AASB belief statement that raises the priority of children and youth, their health, education, safety and welfare as AASB's top priority. He shared that hazing and bullying is "nothing short of terrorism" to a victim and should not be tolerated in schools. He pointed out that many school districts already have a bullying policy; however, including it in statute, policy, and administrative regulations is appropriate. He said he appreciates the changes in the CS. He suggested the conceptual amendment might go further to include all school-sponsored activities. 8:18:57 AM BRUCE JOHNSON, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), testified in support of SB 91. He said the bill makes good sense. ACSA's goal is to provide a safe environment that protects the well-being of all young people and any hint of hazing begins to infringe on that. He said ACSA would stand behind quality implementation of the bill. CHAIR STEVENS closed public hearing. 8:20:08 AM SENATOR DUNLEAVY moved to report CSSB 91, 28-LS0720\N as amended, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. CHAIR STEVENS announced that without objection, CSSB 91(EDC) was reported from the Senate Education Committee.