Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/21/1993 01:45 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced CSHB 235(FIN) (SPECIAL EDUCATION & RELATED SERVICES) as the final order of business. MYRA HOWE, State Director of Special Education, Department of Education, said the legislation was introduced upon request of the Department of Education to bring the state into compliance with federal law. At present, the department has a two-year conditional approval of its state plan. The conditional approval will expire July 1 of this year, and it has been indicated that if Alaska does not come into compliance with federal law by that date, funds in the amount of $8,344,517 for FY 94 will be withheld. Ms. Howe outlined sections of the bill that address changes required by the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Howe directed attention to a suggested amendment to Senate State Affairs SCS. The amendment on page 2, line 18 to Section 6, which relates to independent evaluations, would add the phrase "from the list provided by the district" after the word "choosing." She said the department requires that the school district maintain a list of independent evaluators and provide that to the parent upon request if the parent disagrees with the evaluation provided by the school district. She added that it would not restrict parents as far as sticking to that list, but that it is the starting point for considering who is qualified and who isn't to provide an independent evaluation. Number 335 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, Legal Counsel, Judicial Branch, stated the court system takes no position on the legislation, but they have a suggested amendment to the State Affairs SCS. The amendment would be to paragraph (e) on page 4, which relates to an indigent person being provided with a court appointed attorney at public expense, and it clarifies that this function is assigned to the Office of Public Advocacy. Number 355 MARC GROBER, testifying from Nenana, said the State Affairs committee substitute does not really resolve the problems he sees with CSHB 235(FIN), and he has submitted a suggested committee substitute. Mr. Grober contends that neither the state nor the legislature has ever received a letter or any other documentation that says that HB 235 has to be passed or the state looses $8 million. What has been said is that the state has been out of compliance allegedly because there is no process to override a parent's refusal. He said Alaska can meet the federal requirements simply by telling the federal government that our existing statutes meets these issues, and the federal regulations specifically recognize that court proceedings that resolve these issues are adequate to meet the federal regulations. Mr. Grober outlined the following areas of concern with the legislation: (1) Despite the "so-called training" for hearing officers, he has appeared before a number of these hearing officers and they are by and large not qualified. He suggests the state implement examination requirements that he has recommended. (2) Districts do not maintain lists of qualified individuals to conduct independent evaluations. (3) The Office of Public Advocacy regularly represents the child, and there could be a conflict if the same office were to represent the indigent parent. (4) The bill does not identify what the impact of withdrawal of consent is, as well as what the definition of "consent" means. (5) The proposed definition of "educational records" goes way beyond what is at issue. Concluding his comments, Mr. Grober said the committee substitute he has offered meets every single point raised by the Department of Education without any disenfranchisement of any parent. Number 450 CHAIRMAN RIEGER offered the following amendment to page 1, line 14: delete the phrase "have the right to" and replace it with the phrase "may be provided." Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted. Number 475 There was extensive discussion between committee members and Ms. Howe on the Department of Education's suggested amendment to page 2, line 18, adding the phrase "from the list provided by the district." SENATOR SALO offered, for discussion purposes, an amendment to page 2, line 17, which after the word "by" and before the word "person," adds the words "an available qualified." Following brief discussion, the amendment was withdrawn. TAPE 93-38, SIDE B Number 055 SENATOR SALO moved the department's amendment to page 2, line 18: After "choosing" add "from the list provided by the district." SENATOR LEMAN objected. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Rieger, Salo and Sharp voted "Yea" and Senators Miller and Leman voted "Nay." The Chair stated the motion carried. Number 075 CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to page 3, line 22, and the language "the parent's lack of consent to evaluation" and suggested replacing "consent to" with "participation in." He said that all that can really be documented is the parent's lack of participation rather than to document the parent's state of mind. He then moved his suggested change as an amendment to page 3, line 22. Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted. CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to paragraph (e) on page 4, lines 20 through 22, and stated he was uncomfortable with the language. SENATOR LEMAN explained that it was added in the State Affairs Committee and it provides that an indigent will be provided with an attorney if someone else brings suit against that person. It levels the playing field to provide that if that person appeals to the court that they will be provided with an attorney. CHAIRMAN RIEGER moved to delete all of the language on lines 20 through 22 on page 4. SENATOR LEMAN objected. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Rieger and Sharp voted "Yea," and Senators Salo, Leman and Miller voted "Nay." The Chair stated the motion failed. Number 155 CHAIRMAN RIEGER then moved the amendment suggested by the court system to page 4, lines 20 through 22, to add language that empowers the Office of Public Advocacy to provide legal representation referenced in AS 14.31.095. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 195 SENATOR SALO referred to the language in Section 12 on the top of page 5, and questioned if it was necessary to insert the same language that was suggested by the Department of Education and added to Section 6 on page 2. She then moved that on page 5, line 2, after the word "choosing" insert "from the list provided by the district." SENATOR LEMAN objected. The roll was taken with the following result: Senators Rieger, Sharp and Salo voted "Yea," and Senators Leman and Miller voted "Nay." The Chair stated the motion carried. Number 220 SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that the Office of Public Advocacy had originally submitted a zero fiscal note on the bill, and he suggested that since the amendment suggested by the court system has been adopted, they be asked to revisit that fiscal note. There being no further amendments or testimony to HB 235, CHAIRMAN RIEGER asked for the pleasure of the committee. Number 230 SENATOR SALO moved that SCS CSHB 235(HES), along with the accompanying fiscal notes be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 2:50 p.m.