Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

03/22/2005 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Heard & Held
          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                                                                    
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.                                                                                                        

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