Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/21/1993 01:45 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                        

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