Legislature(2021 - 2022)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/21/2021 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
-- <Time Limit May Be Set> --
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 04/20/2021>
Moved CSSB 71(FIN) Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 20(FIN) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
SENATE BILL NO. 10                                                                                                            
     "An  Act establishing  a grant  program  to provide  to                                                                    
     essential  workers the  tuition  and fees  to attend  a                                                                    
     state-supported        postsecondary        educational                                                                    
10:44:19 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR TOM  BEGICH, SPONSOR, discussed the  legislation and                                                                    
introduced  his support  staff. The  bill would  provide for                                                                    
essential workers  up to  4 years of  free tuition  at state                                                                    
10:45:28 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 1:                                                                                     
     Page 3, Line 4:                                                                                                            
          Delete "$10,000,000"                                                                                                  
          Insert "2,500,000"                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stedman OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                       
Co-Chair  Bishop spoke  to Amendment  1. He  noted that  the                                                                    
amendment sought to fix an  inconsistency between the intent                                                                    
of the bill and the language in the legislation.                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman WITHDREW  his OBJECTION.  Amendment 1  was                                                                    
Senator Wilson  MOVED to WITHDRAWN Amendment  2. There being                                                                    
NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                                
Senator Wilson MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 3:                                                                                      
Co-Chair Bishop OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                        
Senator Wilson  spoke to  Amendment 3.  He relayed  that the                                                                    
amendment would add a section  to the bill recommending that                                                                    
at least 20 percent of the  grants went to trade schools. He                                                                    
said  that there  was a  shortage  of skilled  labor in  the                                                                    
state and the  amendment would insure the  preparation for a                                                                    
skilled workforce in the state.                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Bishop asked for the  Division of Legislative Legal                                                                    
to speak to the amendment.                                                                                                      
10:47:40 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson referenced a memo.                                                                                               
NOAH  KLEIN, COUNSEL,  LEGAL  SERVICES, LEGISLATIVE  AFFAIRS                                                                    
AGENCY (via  teleconference), said  that Article  1, section                                                                    
7, of the Constitution of  the State of Alaska prohibits the                                                                    
expenditure  of  public  funds for  the  direct  benefit  of                                                                    
private educational  institutions. He said that  amendment 3                                                                    
raised  questions because  it allowed  for the  potential of                                                                    
fund to be spent to the direct benefit of a private school.                                                                     
Senator   Wilson   noted   that   the   Alaska   Performance                                                                    
Scholarship  provided funds  for many  vocation and  skilled                                                                    
labor schooling. He said that  previous Covid-19 funding had                                                                    
gone to  Alaska Bible College and  Alaska Christian College.                                                                    
He  felt  that the  state  had  consistently funded  private                                                                    
programs and  if there was  a constitutional issue  with the                                                                    
amendment then  the state  should cease  funding all  of the                                                                    
programs he mentioned.                                                                                                          
Mr.  Klein offered  to  get  back to  the  committee on  the                                                                    
issue.  He  pointed  out   Alaska  Supreme  Court  precedent                                                                    
involved  a postsecondary  school, Sheldon  Jackson College,                                                                    
and provided  a three-part test to  determine whether public                                                                    
funds were being provided to a private entity.                                                                                  
10:50:19 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Begich asserted that CARES  Act funding had included                                                                    
a requirement  to fund private  schools. He was  not opposed                                                                    
to  the principal  of the  amendment, but  he was  concerned                                                                    
with   the   legal    memo   questioning   the   amendment's                                                                    
Senator Wilson  asked whether there  was someone  online who                                                                    
could speak to the issue.                                                                                                       
10:51:18 AM                                                                                                                   
SANA  EFIRD,   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,  ALASKA   COMMISSION  ON                                                                    
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION,  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION  AND EARLY                                                                    
DEVELOPMENT  (via  teleconference),  stated  that  under  AS                                                                    
14.43.830,  the  state  had institutional  authorization  to                                                                    
qualify   certain   postsecondary  institutions   based   on                                                                    
specific  eligibility criteria  to  be  eligible to  receive                                                                    
public funds.                                                                                                                   
10:52:16 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:53:35 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator  Wielechowski wondered  whether the  amendment would                                                                    
allow for  funds to  be expended to  schools outside  of the                                                                    
Senator Wilson  stated the intent  was for the  provision to                                                                    
apply to schools within the state of Alaska.                                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop thought Amendment 3 needed more scrutiny.                                                                       
Co-Chair Bishop MAINTAINED his OBJECTION.                                                                                       
Senator  Wilson   WITHDREW  Amendment  3.  There   being  NO                                                                    
OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
10:55:00 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 4.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Bishop OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                        
Senator  Wilson  spoke to  Amendment  4.  He said  that  the                                                                    
intent  was to  replace  the  state supported  postsecondary                                                                    
institution  with a  postsecondary  institution approved  by                                                                    
the  Commission  on  Postsecondary  Education,  which  would                                                                    
allow  grants  to  be  used for  both  state  supported  and                                                                    
private institutions.                                                                                                           
Senator   Wielechowski  asked   for   an   opinion  from   a                                                                    
legislative attorney. He thought  the amendment had the same                                                                    
problem as the previous amendment.                                                                                              
Co-Chair Bishop agreed.                                                                                                         
10:56:22 AM                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Klein thought  the same  constitutional question  arose                                                                    
from Amendment 4 as had for the previous amendment.                                                                             
Senator Wilson believed that there  were mechanisms in place                                                                    
in  statute  allowed  for  public dollars  to  be  spent  on                                                                    
private schools.  He stressed that  if the practice  was not                                                                    
constitutional then the statutes should be changed.                                                                             
Co-Chair Bishop WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                                                                                         
Senator Wielechowski OBJECTED.                                                                                                  
Senator Begich  shared that he  did not think  the amendment                                                                    
met the intent of the bill.                                                                                                     
10:58:35 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Bishop asked how much,  if any, money did the state                                                                    
approve  for   money  going  out-of-state   for  educational                                                                    
Ms. Efird stated that money  that was appropriated as grants                                                                    
under  the Alaska  Performance  Scholarship  and the  Alaska                                                                    
Education  Grant did  not go  to students  out of  state. In                                                                    
statute,  the funds  were to  provide scholarships  for high                                                                    
school   graduated,   who    are   Alaska   residents,   for                                                                    
institutions within the State of Alaska.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Bishop  queried the  wording  needed  to make  the                                                                    
amendment more constitutionally palatable.                                                                                      
Ms. Efird thought the amendment  might need work to add that                                                                    
she  was  happy  to  work  with  the  amendment  sponsor  to                                                                    
determine  how  the amendment  could  be  best crafted.  She                                                                    
reiterated that currently  performance scholarship money and                                                                    
education grants did not go to out-of-state institutions.                                                                       
11:00:27 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator von  Imhof thought perhaps if  the amendment sponsor                                                                    
could refine  the language  to add  a reference  for Alaska-                                                                    
based  schools   only.  She  shared  that   she  would  feel                                                                    
comfortable waiting for a day to  act on the bill. She asked                                                                    
the  sponsor  of the  bill  about  the language  surrounding                                                                    
"essential workers".                                                                                                            
Senator  Begich stated  that the  bill was  not intended  to                                                                    
limit  "essential  workers"  in  the state  to  only  Alaska                                                                    
residents. He added that he had  received a loan in the past                                                                    
from  the  APEC  to  attend   an  out-of-state  college.  He                                                                    
clarified  that   the  state  approved  student   loans  for                                                                    
students going to institutions outside of the state.                                                                            
11:02:53 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Olson  asked whether  the bill  would provide  for a                                                                    
student attending a private  facility or institution outside                                                                    
of the state.  He noted that there was not  a medical school                                                                    
or law school in the state.                                                                                                     
Senator  Begich explained  that the  bill had  been narrowly                                                                    
designed  to take  advantage of  the current  moment and  to                                                                    
apply it  to Alaskan  institutions to avoid  the anticipated                                                                    
constitutional  challenges.  The  bill was  to  ensure  that                                                                    
essential workers  in the state  would have  the opportunity                                                                    
to pursue  a four-year education  within the limits  of what                                                                    
is available within the state.                                                                                                  
11:04:04 AM                                                                                                                   
11:04:05 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
11:04:57 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Wilson MOVED to WITHDRAW Amendment 4.                                                                                   
Senator  Begich clarified  that  Page 2,  line 7,  specified                                                                    
that the  recipient must be a  resident of the state  for at                                                                    
least 12 months.                                                                                                                
SB  10  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair Bishop discussed housekeeping.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 88 Sectional Analysis version A 2-23-21.pdf SFIN 4/21/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 88
SB 88 Sponsor Statement 2-17-21.pdf SFIN 4/21/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 88
SB 10 Amendments 4.21.2021.pdf SFIN 4/21/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 10 Amendment 4 Wilson.pdf SFIN 4/21/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 10
SB 88 4.21.21 Senate Finance presentation.pdf SFIN 4/21/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 88