Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211
03/22/2005 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 137-EVICTING INSTITUTIONAL PROPERTY USERS CHAIR CON BUNDE announced SB 137 to be up for consideration. JOE MICHEL, staff to Senator Seekins, sponsor, said the University of Alaska requested this legislation which stems from a few cases where disruptive students have used the court system to stall evictions from their unit until it's most convenient for them. The students' infractions were way beyond what was allowed under their student housing contract. The University needed to remove these students from their housing before their disruptive behavior started affecting other students. He said this bill is an attempt to correct a discrepancy between legislative intent and some recent lower court decisions on the Uniform Landlord Tenant Act in AS 34.03.330. It reads: 'Unless created to avoid the application of this chapter, the following arrangements are not governed by this chapter: residence at an institution, public or private, if incidental to detention or provision of medical geriatric, educational counseling, religious or other similar services.' And [this] basically means public service institutional entities such as hospitals, schools, counseling centers or higher educational establishments are not compatible with the heightened protections that were designed under the Landlord Tenant Act. He said the University of Alaska has put into place a three- strike system intending to work with students regarding their university housing. There's a review and an appeals process for major infractions. The university has shown a dedication to working with students who are not observing housing rules. 2:23:48 PM MIKE SFRAGA, University of Alaska, said it is their role and mission to serve its students. Some students make the environment not as productive as might be. Processes are in place that allow the university to do a case by case review. It is certainly not the intent of any of us to make undue challenges to our students in terms of hurdles. In fact, we look to do things on a case-by-case basis, although within a framework, to address issues because we don't want to treat all students the same way.... So, we have those processes that were presented to you. These are internal processes, administrative guidelines that we follow.... If we find that it is in the best interests of the institution, our students and a particular student, we will ask them to leave the residence. The student has the right in a due process procedure to appeal that to a dean of students. Then certainly the dean of students can make the final decision. If the student does not agree with the final appeal decision, they can go to superior court for an appeal as well. I guess we would like to emphasize that this is an educational institution. These are not arbitrary dismissals of students. There is a process in place. We follow that process and we have a responsibility to make sure that our environment is conducive to education while maintaining the processes in place and understanding that our role is to educate out students. 2:26:23 PM MIKE HOSTINA, University of Alaska, said he would answer legal questions. He said: Our concern is we ended up in a few cases with students really getting two bites of the apple. They follow the administrative procedure within the university. If they don't like that outcome, they, then, go to court to seek to block their removal from housing. We end up with multiple processes going on and I think it was you, Mr. Chairman, who hit the nail right on the head. We have some school-house lawyers here on campus and they've cost us literally tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of administrative time to accomplish what everybody agrees, even the courts agree, should be a relatively simple process. But, the courts have felt obligated to require an eviction action, because of the language of the current forcible entry and detainer statute. CHAIR BUNDE asked how many students have been a problem. MR. HOSTINA said that just one student had cost the university tens of thousands dollars and hundreds of hours of time in the two years he has been there. CHAIR BUNDE saw no further questions and said he would hold SB 137 for another hearing.