Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/21/2001 10:21 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 21, 2001                                                                                           
                         10:21 A.M.                                                                                             
TAPE HFC 01 - 90, Side A                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 01 - 90, Side B                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 01 - 91, Side A                                                                                                        
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Williams called the House  Finance Committee meeting                                                                   
to order at 10:21 A.M.                                                                                                          
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Bill Williams, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Eldon Mulder, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Con Bunde, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Eric Croft                                                                                                       
Representative John Davies                                                                                                      
Representative Carl Moses                                                                                                       
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative John Harris                                                                                                      
Representative Bill Hudson                                                                                                      
Representative Ken Lancaster                                                                                                    
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative  Mary   Kapsner;  Senator  Lyda   Green;  Hans                                                                   
Neidig, Staff,  Senator Lyda  Green; Jim Nordlund,  Director,                                                                   
Division  of  Public  Assistance, Department  of  Health  and                                                                   
Social  Services;  Dr. Bruce  Johnson,  Deputy  Commissioner,                                                                   
Education,  Department of  Education  and Early  Development;                                                                   
Carl  Rose, Executive  Director, Alaska  State School  Board,                                                                   
Juneau;  Loren   Jones,  Department  of  Health   and  Social                                                                   
Services;  Robert  Buttcane, Division  of  Juvenile  Justice,                                                                   
Department  of Health  and  Social Services;  Jerry  Burnett,                                                                   
Staff, Senator  Lyda Green;  Greg Maloney, Director,  Special                                                                   
Education,  Teaching  and  Learning  Support,  Department  of                                                                   
Education & Early Development.                                                                                                  
HB 114    An Act relating to abuse of inhalants.                                                                                
          HB 114 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                              
SB 133    An  Act  relating  to  a  two-year  transition  for                                                                   
          implementation   of    the   public   high   school                                                                   
          competency  examination   and  to  establishing  an                                                                   
          essential  skills  examination  as  a  high  school                                                                   
          graduation   requirement;  and  providing   for  an                                                                   
          effective date.                                                                                                       
          SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                              
HCR 14    Suspending  Rules  24(c),  35,  41(b),  and  42(e),                                                                   
          Uniform  Rules  of the  Alaska  State  Legislature,                                                                   
          concerning  Senate Bill No.  133, relating  to high                                                                   
          school competency testing.                                                                                            
          HCR 14 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                              
SJR 21    Urging  the United  States Congress  to extend  the                                                                   
          authorization  date for  supplemental block  grants                                                                   
          to the State of Alaska  under the Federal Temporary                                                                   
          Assistance to Needy Families Program.                                                                                 
          CS SJR 21 (HES) out of Committee with a "do pass"                                                                     
          recommendation   and   with   a  fiscal   note   by                                                                   
          Department  of  Health   &  Social  Services  dated                                                                   
SENATE BILL NO. 133                                                                                                           
     An   Act  relating   to   a  two-year   transition   for                                                                   
     implementation  of  the public  high  school  competency                                                                   
     examination  and  to establishing  an  essential  skills                                                                   
     examination  as a  high school  graduation  requirement;                                                                   
     and providing for an effective date.                                                                                       
DR.  BRUCE   JOHNSON,  DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER,   DEPARTMENT  OF                                                                   
EDUCATION  AND  EARLY DEVELOPMENT,  applauded  the  Committee                                                                   
members  who  had  vested  time and  energy  into  gaining  a                                                                   
comprehensive  understanding of  the issues facing  students.                                                                   
From the Department's perspective,  the discussions have been                                                                   
instructive for everyone concerned  about Alaska's standards-                                                                   
based reform endeavor.                                                                                                          
The Department  of Education & Early Development  states that                                                                   
two critical components of our  standards-based reform effort                                                                   
require additional consideration.                                                                                               
 · First, Alaska must provide sufficient time for the                                                                           
     transition from the old credit-based  educational system                                                                   
     to the new standards-based  educational system, based on                                                                   
     student  results.  Broad-based  acceptance and  early-on                                                                   
     successes with the reform effortare critical for long-                                                                     
     term gains.                                                                                                                
Dr.  Johnson   pointed  out   that  from  the   defensibility                                                                   
standpoint, the "legal" clock  started ticking in the fall of                                                                   
2000,  when schools,  school districts  and families  learned                                                                   
the results  of the first  administration of the  High School                                                                   
Graduation Qualifying Examination.                                                                                              
Dr.  Johnson  stated  that  the  high  school  test  and  the                                                                   
standards give  Alaska a great opportunity to  better educate                                                                   
all  students to  higher levels  of performance.   He  stated                                                                   
that  the  State should  not  risk  rushing the  high  stakes                                                                   
portion of the reform effort.                                                                                                   
 ·    Second, the State must ensure that the system of                                                                          
     accountability is  fair to all concerned.   He commended                                                                   
     the Senate and House for  acknowledging that waivers for                                                                   
     students  entering Alaskan  high schools  late in  their                                                                   
     schooling, as  well as students, who  experience unusual                                                                   
     and  unique circumstances,  are good  public policy  and                                                                   
     appropriate for special populations.                                                                                       
Dr.  Campbell noted  that the  goal  is aimed  at creating  a                                                                   
system of high  standards, assessments and  accountability to                                                                   
build   an  educational   environment   that  maximizes   the                                                                   
opportunity  for every  child to  become a  winner.  To  that                                                                   
end,  the  Department  remains  concerned  that  all  special                                                                   
education  students  are  going  to  be  held  to  the  exact                                                                   
standards   of  all   other  students   despite  the   unique                                                                   
challenges  and differences  that  those  students have  with                                                                   
learning.  If   held  to  the  exact  standard,   without  an                                                                   
Individual  Education  Program   (IEP)  team's  authority  to                                                                   
adjust  the  learning  targets  to  recognize  the  student's                                                                   
disability, the  State would be limiting the  opportunity for                                                                   
many students to earn a diploma.                                                                                                
Dr. Johnson urged Committee members  to adopt a philosophy of                                                                   
"doing   no   harm"   and   pleaded   to   avoid   unintended                                                                   
consequences.  The State  can do  that by  being patient  and                                                                   
approaching our standards-based reform incrementally.                                                                           
Dr.  Johnson  suggested  that  Alaska could  learn  from  the                                                                   
progress of  other states on  the path toward  meaningful and                                                                   
lasting educational  reform.   The Department has  found that                                                                   
the states getting the most press  for having successful exit                                                                   
exams  also  allow  local  IEP  teams  great  flexibility  to                                                                   
determine  accommodations and  modifications for the  special                                                                   
education  students.     In  a  number  of   states,  special                                                                   
education  students  who are  totally  exempt  from the  exam                                                                   
still receive a diploma.                                                                                                        
Dr. Johnson pointed out that in  Alaska, current law provides                                                                   
no   flexibility.      By  mandating   that   students   with                                                                   
disabilities  meet   the  identical  requirements   as  other                                                                   
students despite their identified  disability, we can predict                                                                   
that special  education students  will not  fare well  on the                                                                   
exit exam.   He  urged that  the State  be flexible,  falling                                                                   
on the side  of caution and  fairness in the early  stages of                                                                   
the accountability reform effort.                                                                                               
The results  are predictable for students  with disabilities,                                                                   
particularly  those  students   already  in  the  educational                                                                   
pipeline, as those students are  often afforded opportunities                                                                   
for assistive  devices and modifications in  their individual                                                                   
learning plans.                                                                                                                 
Dr.  Johnson assured  members  that  the systems  to  monitor                                                                   
districts to  ensure students  with disabilities are  held to                                                                   
the highest standard  possible would be instituted.   Through                                                                   
the  bill, many  specific  reporting requirements  are  built                                                                   
into  it  to  prevent  wholesale   labeling  of  students  as                                                                   
"special education"  in order to better guarantee  a diploma.                                                                   
If   necessary,  the   Department   could  strengthen   those                                                                   
requirements as the accountability system evolves.                                                                              
Dr.  Johnson  urged  members  to amend  the  bill  by  adding                                                                   
language  which would  allow  students  with disabilities  to                                                                   
complete an  alternative assessment program, one  required by                                                                   
the students' individualized education  program that conforms                                                                   
to the maximum extent practicable  with the State performance                                                                   
standards on the high school competency exam.                                                                                   
CARL  ROSE, EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR, ALASKA  STATE SCHOOL  BOARD,                                                                   
JUNEAU,  noted that  he  would address  his  comments to  the                                                                   
special education  portion of the legislation.   He discussed                                                                   
the tremendous  needs for funding being leveraged  behind the                                                                   
principle  of the  bill.   Mr.  Rose reviewed  the issues  of                                                                   
accommodations.   He pointed out that students  have received                                                                   
accommodations throughout  their school life and  he asked if                                                                   
that  accommodation should  be removed  at the  end of  their                                                                   
school life  by not  allowing the IEP  to continue.   Through                                                                   
federal  law, it  is  a requirement.    Mr.  Rose noted  that                                                                   
special education is funded at  20%, which is inadequate.  To                                                                   
fill   the  requirement,   the  money   comes  from   regular                                                                   
instruction  and is  a federal  mandate.   Mr. Rose  stressed                                                                   
that the accommodation is consistent and principally based.                                                                     
Mr.  Rose  reiterated  that  education   "knows"  that  their                                                                   
funding  is  being   leveraged.    The  issues   need  to  be                                                                   
separated.  He pleaded that the work be done correctly.                                                                         
Vice-Chair Bunde  MOVED to ADOPT Amendment  1, 22-LS0607\T.2,                                                                   
Ford,  4/17/01.    [Copy on  File].    Representative  Davies                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Bunde explained that  the change  would not  be a                                                                   
change in substance but instead  in technique.  The amendment                                                                   
suggests that  the Department  would put forward  regulations                                                                   
for the  use of waivers  and then they  would report  back to                                                                   
the  Legislature after  the regulations  are in  place.   The                                                                   
regulations of  the Department  should reflect the  intent of                                                                   
the Legislature.                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft questioned who  in Alaska would  be the                                                                   
primary  population  that  the  waiver  would  affect.    Dr.                                                                   
Johnson replied that  it would be those students  that arrive                                                                   
into  Alaska  late  in  their high  school  career,  such  as                                                                   
military transferred  students and immigrants that  arrive in                                                                   
Alaska with no English capacity.                                                                                                
Representative Harris  inquired if the language  sufficiently                                                                   
dealt with  the military student  concern.  He  inquired what                                                                   
"rate  and  unusual"  circumstances  would  encompass.    Dr.                                                                   
Johnson  explained that  language  would  end in  regulation.                                                                   
The  report would  clearly outline  what was  heard from  the                                                                   
general public in terms of what is necessary.                                                                                   
Representative  Harris  questioned  where  in the  bill  that                                                                   
would be addressed.   Dr. Johnson referenced Page  6, Item 5.                                                                   
Representative  Harris asked  the difference  in Amendment  1                                                                   
and  the removal  of Section  5.   Dr.  Johnson advised  that                                                                   
Amendment 1 would remove Section  5, requiring the Department                                                                   
to  come back  with the  report, then  the Legislature  would                                                                   
proactively move forward.                                                                                                       
Representative  Croft summarized  that the  concern was  that                                                                   
the  issue would  affect military  preparedness.   He  stated                                                                   
that  Amendment  1  would delay  the  implementation  of  the                                                                   
standard.   Dr.  Johnson acknowledged  that  was of  concern.                                                                   
He advised that there was military  concern over the fairness                                                                   
of Alaska's exit exam bill.                                                                                                     
Co-Chair Mulder noted  that he did share the  concerns voiced                                                                   
by  Vice-Chair  Bunde  and Representative  Croft  on  how  to                                                                   
adequately  address  fairness   to  military  families.    He                                                                   
questioned  if that could  be adequately  addressed  with the                                                                   
adoption  of the  amendment.   Vice-Chair Bunde  acknowledged                                                                   
that it  was his intent  to allow the  waiver.   He suggested                                                                   
that  it could  be  addressed either  through  the waiver  or                                                                   
through a "reprobacity" clause.                                                                                                 
Vice-Chair Bunde  stipulated that it would not  be "nebulous"                                                                   
without  closure.   He assumed  that there  would be  closure                                                                   
next  February.    He  stated  that  it  would  not  threaten                                                                   
national  defense.  Co-Chair  Mulder  noted that the  concern                                                                   
rests within the Legislature and  the public having certainty                                                                   
about  what the  regulations  are and  that  there should  be                                                                   
public policies beyond the Department's adoption.                                                                               
Vice-Chair  Bunde  believed that  it  was possible  that  the                                                                   
Department  could have  removed something  that the  military                                                                   
would be unhappy about.                                                                                                         
Dr. Johnson stated  that the Department could  operate in the                                                                   
manner  referenced  by  Vice-Chair  Bunde.   He  stated  that                                                                   
nothing could  be completed over  the summer.   He reiterated                                                                   
that  the earliest  that the  Board  could draft  regulations                                                                   
would be December  2001 through March 2002.   The Board meets                                                                   
quarterly on regulations.   The earliest that  there would be                                                                   
draft  regulations  would  be  December.    On  most  of  the                                                                   
comprehensive  critical  issues that  the  State Board  deals                                                                   
with, there is a six-month period  of public comment.  He did                                                                   
not  foresee the  State Board  rushing  through the  concerns                                                                   
because they are serious.                                                                                                       
Mr. Rose  encouraged the Committee  to provide  the necessary                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Bunde noted  that without  Amendment 1,  it would                                                                   
take  a year  to get  the  regulations in  place.   With  the                                                                   
amendment,  there  would  be  a  report  back,  allowing  the                                                                   
Legislature  to approve  the report  by February  2002.   Dr.                                                                   
Johnson  stated that  it would  be unlikely  that the  School                                                                   
Board would have  anything together for the  Board meeting by                                                                   
September.    He  reiterated   that  the  earliest  would  be                                                                   
December 2001.                                                                                                                  
Representative  Davies voiced his  concern that the  statutes                                                                   
do not include the request for  the waiver process.  He asked                                                                   
what the intended  process was.  The Department  cannot start                                                                   
the   official    process   without   statutory    authority.                                                                   
Representative  Davies asked  if it was  intended to  revisit                                                                   
the statutes  in one year.   Vice-Chair Bunde stated  it was.                                                                   
He saw  the process  starting during  the September  meeting,                                                                   
providing  a report  to the  Legislature  and continuing  the                                                                   
regulatory process into February.                                                                                               
Representative  Davies pointed  out that  the Board  wanted a                                                                   
six-month comment period.  He  suggested that would allow for                                                                   
another year for implementation  of the competency exam.  Dr.                                                                   
Johnson  explained   that  extra   time  could  add   to  the                                                                   
Department's  legal  defensibility.  The  earliest  that  the                                                                   
Board could take action on regulations would be December.                                                                       
Vice-Chair   Bunde   pointed   out  that   there   had   been                                                                   
considerable  discussion regarding  the statutory  authority.                                                                   
He added that  statutory authority becomes available  the day                                                                   
that the Governor  signs the bill.  Dr. Johnson  replied that                                                                   
should be left  up to legal interpretation.   It is important                                                                   
that there  is an  opportunity for  public comment  given the                                                                   
weight of the issue.  He reiterated  that the Board rarely is                                                                   
successful addressing such issues in three months.                                                                              
In   response   to  comments   made   by   Co-Chair   Mulder,                                                                   
Representative  Davies  disagreed  that  the process  was  an                                                                   
appropriate place  for the Legislature to become  involved in                                                                   
the regulation.   He  objected to  the micro-management.   He                                                                   
added if the  regulations were placed into statute,  it would                                                                   
be unlikely  that everything  would be  included in  terms of                                                                   
what the Department needs to make the regulations work.                                                                         
Representative  Hudson advised  that  the military  typically                                                                   
issues their orders  in the winter for a move  in the summer.                                                                   
He  noted  that  during  that time,  there  are  hundreds  of                                                                   
families  in motion.    Up until  now,  there  has been  some                                                                   
assurance that their  students would be able to  fit into the                                                                   
educational flow.  He stressed  that he would not want to see                                                                   
any  legislation  that  would  adversely  impact  that  flow.                                                                   
Representative Hudson commented  that if the amendment upsets                                                                   
that rhythm,  how would the State  be able to  give assurance                                                                   
to those families.                                                                                                              
Vice-Chair  Bunde   interjected  for  the  record   that  the                                                                   
discussion should  not be focused on the waivers.   He agreed                                                                   
that there  should be waivers.   He commented, what  is being                                                                   
addressed  is  the process.    He  asked if  the  Legislature                                                                   
trusted  the Department  to reflect  the legislative  intent.                                                                   
He urged that the process be done in concert.                                                                                   
Representative  Croft   acknowledged  that  the   process  is                                                                   
"cumbersome",  noting   that  the  legislative   process  was                                                                   
designed  to  be  that  way.   The  fundamental  question  on                                                                   
Amendment  1 is whether  the waiver  process  is in place  or                                                                   
whether there is one.  He pointed  out that was a fundamental                                                                   
SENATOR LYDA GREEN noted that  the amendment would remove the                                                                   
requirement that  the Board "shall"  adopt regulations.   The                                                                   
amendment would place that language to the Department:                                                                          
     "The Department shall report back to the Legislature                                                                       
     with regulations for".                                                                                                     
She  stated   that  language   concerns  her  and   that  the                                                                   
requirement for the waiver should be in statute.                                                                                
TAPE HFC 01 - 90, Side B                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Williams  noted  that  SB  133  would  be  HELD  in                                                                   
Committee for further consideration.                                                                                            
Recessed:      11:00 a.m.                                                                                                       
Reconvened:    11:35 a.m.                                                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 114                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to abuse of inhalants.                                                                                     
REPRESENATIVE  MARY  KAPSNER  testified  that  HB  114  would                                                                   
target a problem  in Alaska that has been neglected  for many                                                                   
years.   It would  provide public  safety officials,  medical                                                                   
personnel and  the Courts leverage  to place individuals  who                                                                   
use  and abuse  inhalants into  rehabilitation.   HB 114  was                                                                   
introduced   after  many  professional   concerns   had  been                                                                   
expressed   with  the   serious  problem   of  young   people                                                                   
Representative  Kapsner reported that  abuse of inhalants  is                                                                   
not a  new problem  and that it  is far-reaching  and rampant                                                                   
proportions throughout  Alaska and  among young youth  across                                                                   
the nation.   One of the  problems in forging a  direction to                                                                   
deal  with  inhalant   abuse  is  the  lack   of  appropriate                                                                   
treatment facilities.  Most substance  treatment programs are                                                                   
geared toward problems of alcohol  and drugs.  She noted that                                                                   
from the generous work of Senator  Murkowski, construction of                                                                   
a facility  is currently  underway with completion  scheduled                                                                   
for August  2001 in  the Yukon  Kuskokwim Health  Corporation                                                                   
Representative Kapsner noted that  the legislation would take                                                                   
a  pro-active look  at  ways in  which  the  State can  raise                                                                   
awareness and  address statutory needs to complete  a package                                                                   
approach   that   includes   prevention,   intervention   and                                                                   
Representative  Whitaker noted  the  fiscal costs  associated                                                                   
with the  legislation.   Representative Kapsner advised  that                                                                   
unaddressed treatment  of a person using inhalants  would end                                                                   
up costing  the State much  more money  in the long  run than                                                                   
the proposed  fiscal  note.  She  pointed out  that a  change                                                                   
made  in the  House  Judiciary Committee  would  result in  a                                                                   
significant decrease to the fiscal note.                                                                                        
Representative  Whitaker  reiterated  his concerns  with  the                                                                   
fiscal  implications.   He  requested a  projected  estimate.                                                                   
Representative Kapsner  explained that it would  be difficult                                                                   
to  assess the  problems  associated  with the  behavior,  as                                                                   
there are  no treatments available  for the behavior  at this                                                                   
point in time.                                                                                                                  
LOREN  JONES,  DEPARTMENT  OF  HEALTH  AND  SOCIAL  SERVICES,                                                                   
acknowledged that the effects  of not addressing the inhalant                                                                   
behavior  now would  far surpass  the costs  proposed in  the                                                                   
legislation.    Inhalants are  one  of  the drugs  that  have                                                                   
recognized damage  effects that can happen even  on the first                                                                   
offense.  Inhaling can cause severe  brain damage.  There are                                                                   
long-term costs associated with  usage and those costs revert                                                                   
back to  the State.   Representative Whitaker  projected that                                                                   
additional  costs will  exist.   He stated  that it would  be                                                                   
irresponsible of the Committee  not to recognize those costs.                                                                   
Representative  Croft inquired  what the  costs to the  State                                                                   
would be to take  care of a severely disabled  child from the                                                                   
abuse.   Mr.  Jones  replied that  for  a youth  with  severe                                                                   
damage  from  prolonged  inhale abuse,  the  most  comparable                                                                   
costs  would be  those associated  to  the mentally  disabled                                                                   
with brain damage.  He could not  predict the average cost at                                                                   
this time.                                                                                                                      
Vice-Chair  Bunde acknowledged  that  Fetal Alcohol  Syndrome                                                                   
(FAS)  costs are  significant.   He stated  that inhaling  is                                                                   
mostly a young  persons addiction and asked if  a $300 dollar                                                                   
fine would affect the behavior.                                                                                                 
Representative  Kapsner  explained  that  when the  bill  was                                                                   
introduced,  it  was as  a  violation.    In the  House  HESS                                                                   
Committee  last   year,  that  was  changed  to   a  Class  C                                                                   
misdemeanor.    While  it  was a  Class  C  misdemeanor,  the                                                                   
statewide   response  was   that  the   intent  was   not  to                                                                   
criminalize a 10-year-old kid.   That could potentially place                                                                   
a child in detention until they were 18 or 19 years old.                                                                        
ROBERT BUTTCANE, DIVISION OF JUVENILE  JUSTICE, DEPARTMENT OF                                                                   
HEALTH  AND SOCIAL SERVICES,  referenced  Page 3, Section  4,                                                                   
discussing an  effective way to  intervene in  inhalant abuse                                                                   
cases by responding to the needs  without costs to the State.                                                                   
Under  current law,  there is  little  intervention that  can                                                                   
occur,  however,  Section  4 would  provide  law  enforcement                                                                   
officers the  authority to  take the  child to their  parents                                                                   
with the hope that the child would  be placed into treatment.                                                                   
Mr. Buttcane added  that the last resort, using  current law,                                                                   
would be to place  that child into a "holding  facility".  In                                                                   
the case of an adult "inhaling",  the bill would add the term                                                                   
"inhalants"  into  alcohol  and  drug  offense.    By  making                                                                   
inhaling  a  violation,  would  allow the  Department  to  do                                                                   
emergency as well  as involuntary commitment of  an adult who                                                                   
have been found to be abusing inhalants.                                                                                        
Mr.  Buttcane  explained  that   the  bill  would  provide  a                                                                   
compromise  between  doing  nothing  and  acknowledging  that                                                                   
there is  an inhalant  problem in  the State  of Alaska.   He                                                                   
stressed that there are processes,  which need to be employed                                                                   
to correct the problem.  The bill  is the "appropriate" step,                                                                   
and without it the problem will be perpetuated.                                                                                 
Co-Chair Williams  commented that the  bill would be  HELD in                                                                   
Committee for further consideration.                                                                                            
Representative Kapsner inquired  which areas of the bill need                                                                   
further consideration.   Representative  Hudson requested  an                                                                   
idea of how these concerns were  being treated throughout the                                                                   
State.  He questioned how the  flow and process currently was                                                                   
Representative Lancaster  asked how the other  two facilities                                                                   
in Texas and North Dakota were addressing the concerns.                                                                         
HB 114 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         
HOUSE CS FOR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 133(HES)                                                                                  
     An   Act  relating   to   a  two-year   transition   for                                                                   
     implementation  of  the public  high  school  competency                                                                   
     examination  and  to establishing  a  secondary  student                                                                   
     competency  examination  as  a  high  school  graduation                                                                   
     requirement;  relating  to   certain  reports  regarding                                                                   
     academic  performance of schools;  and providing  for an                                                                   
     effective date.                                                                                                            
Vice-Chair  Bunde  WITHDREW  his  motion  to  MOVE  to  ADOPT                                                                   
Amendment 1.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn.                                                                       
SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 21                                                                                                
     Urging  the   United  States  Congress  to   extend  the                                                                   
     authorization date for supplemental  block grants to the                                                                   
     State of  Alaska under the Federal  Temporary Assistance                                                                   
     to Needy Families Program.                                                                                                 
JERRY BURNETT, STAFF, SENATOR  LYDA GREEN, stated that SJR 21                                                                   
was a resolution  that urges the U.S. Congress  to extend the                                                                   
authorization  date for  supplemental  block  grants for  the                                                                   
State of  Alaska for federal  Temporary Assistance  for Needy                                                                   
Families (TANF) program.                                                                                                        
Representative   Harris   voiced    his   support   for   the                                                                   
legislation,  noting  that without  it,  the  cost to  Alaska                                                                   
would be $7 million dollars.                                                                                                    
Representative Harris MOVED to  report CS SJR 21 (HES) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CS  SJR  21   (HES)  out  of  Committee  with   a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  a fiscal  note  by  Department  of                                                                   
Health & Social Services dated 3/29/01.                                                                                         
HOUSE CS FOR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 133(HES)                                                                                  
     An   Act  relating   to   a  two-year   transition   for                                                                   
     implementation  of  the public  high  school  competency                                                                   
     examination  and  to establishing  a  secondary  student                                                                   
     competency  examination  as  a  high  school  graduation                                                                   
     requirement;  relating  to   certain  reports  regarding                                                                   
     academic  performance of schools;  and providing  for an                                                                   
     effective date.                                                                                                            
Vice-Chair Bunde MOVED to ADOPT  Amendment 1 and asked that a                                                                   
vote be  taken on the  amendment.  He  stated that  there had                                                                   
been enough previous discussion.                                                                                                
Representative J.  Davies pointed out  the timing issue.   He                                                                   
stated  that the waiver  process  needs to  be in statute  in                                                                   
order that the process can be started.                                                                                          
Vice-Chair  Bunde  WITHDREW  Amendment  1.   There  being  NO                                                                   
OBJECTION, the amendment was withdrawn.                                                                                         
Vice-Chair  Bunde  MOVED to  ADOPT  1A to  Page  6, Line  14,                                                                   
deleting the language following:                                                                                                
     "And   must  require   that   a  student   satisfy   the                                                                   
     performance  standards developed  under AS  14.07.020(b)                                                                   
     to the maximum extent possible".                                                                                           
Representative  Croft  explained  that  the amendment  was  a                                                                   
joint effort with Vice-Chair Bunde  and that he supported the                                                                   
amendment.   There being  NO OBJECTION,  the language  in was                                                                   
deleted and the amendment was adopted.                                                                                          
Representative Lancaster  MOVED to ADOPT Amendment  2.  [Copy                                                                   
on File].  Representative Harris OBJECTED.                                                                                      
Dr.  Johnson  stated  that the  amendment  was  supported  by                                                                   
Department    of     Education    &    Early     Development.                                                                   
Representative Croft  discussed the impact of  the amendment.                                                                   
He asked how a blind student needing  to use Braille would be                                                                   
affected.      Dr.  Johnson   replied   that   would  be   an                                                                   
accommodation   and  would  be   permissible  by   the  local                                                                   
Representative    Croft    discussed     modifications    and                                                                   
accommodations  for various  students.   Dr. Johnson  advised                                                                   
that a reading  test could not be read aloud  to the student.                                                                   
Representative Croft asked if  Amendment 2 would change that.                                                                   
Dr.  Johnson  explained  that   without  the  amendment,  the                                                                   
Department would have to come  to the Legislature and request                                                                   
if   their  IEP   team  believed   that  modifications   were                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Bunde maintained  that  the committee  substitute                                                                   
would not  allow accommodations  for special  education.   He                                                                   
stressed  that  the  amendment   would  modify  the  test  to                                                                   
accommodate the  student.  Dr.  Johnson acknowledged  that it                                                                   
would  be  that  type  of  modification.    Vice-Chair  Bunde                                                                   
stressed that the amendment would create an IEP diploma.                                                                        
Senator Green  discussed the IEP  diplomas.  She  pointed out                                                                   
that only a small minority of  students, less than 11%, would                                                                   
be affected by the amendment.   Those students have a variety                                                                   
of learning  disabilities.   The language  clarifies  that an                                                                   
appropriate method  would be used to test the  knowledge that                                                                   
the student  has obtained.  She  pointed to Page 3,  Line 19,                                                                   
which addresses the "portfolio",  one method that can be used                                                                   
to  assess  students.     She  expressed  concern   that  the                                                                   
successful  completion  of  a student's  high  school  career                                                                   
would be  inhibited.   Dr. Johnson  argued that  differential                                                                   
diplomas  are  being created  that  would have  meaning  over                                                                   
Representative Whitaker noted  that there is concern that the                                                                   
diploma  would be  denigrated  for the  other  90%.   Senator                                                                   
Green observed that the intent  was to give the test to every                                                                   
student.  The full and completed  exam on an IEP would be the                                                                   
original exam with accommodations.                                                                                              
TAPE HFC 01 - 91, Side A                                                                                                      
Senator Green  stated that  severely disabled students  would                                                                   
never take an exam.  She noted  that these students are doing                                                                   
double duty  in the first  place.  Tests provide  information                                                                   
that can be used by the school districts and departments.                                                                       
Dr.   Johnson    stressed   the   students    would   receive                                                                   
acknowledgement  on their diploma  and transcripts  and would                                                                   
not be denigrated if the amendment were passed.                                                                                 
Representative Whitaker asked  how the accommodation would be                                                                   
achieved.   Dr. Johnson clarified  that a student  would have                                                                   
to meet a passing score.                                                                                                        
Representative Davies emphasized  that cognitive skills could                                                                   
be high even if a student had  an accommodation.  He gave the                                                                   
example of reading without glasses  and the use of glasses as                                                                   
an accommodation.  He commented  that having a  document read                                                                   
would still  require assimilation.  Representative  J. Davies                                                                   
pointed  out  that  a  many  citizens  and  politicians  have                                                                   
documents read due  to failing eyesight.  He  maintained that                                                                   
high standards  are important,  however, stressed  that there                                                                   
is a small subset of kids that  cannot demonstrate competency                                                                   
in a normal way.                                                                                                                
Dr. Johnson agreed with Representative  Davies assessment. He                                                                   
noted that children with learning  disabilities have at least                                                                   
average intelligence.  The intent  is to hold students to the                                                                   
highest standard  possible under the  IEP and to  assure that                                                                   
it is not  a dumping ground  for those that cannot  achieve a                                                                   
Representative  Hudson concluded  that most  of the  students                                                                   
would achieve  a diploma only if they  demonstrate competency                                                                   
under  the State  standards.    The amendment  addresses  the                                                                   
child with disabilities.   At present time, the  child with a                                                                   
disability would be able to get  a diploma if they passed all                                                                   
portions of the exam.  Representative  Hudson referenced Page                                                                   
3,  Lines  19-20,  and  questioned   the  definition  of  the                                                                   
"portfolio  of work".   He clarified  that the House  version                                                                   
holds the standard high and does allow accommodations.                                                                          
Dr. Johnson  clarified  that the discussion  centers  on when                                                                   
the performance standard would  be modified for a disability,                                                                   
especially the  ability to read.   A student must be  able to                                                                   
read  the printed  word without  modifications  to receive  a                                                                   
diploma;   otherwise,  they  could   receive  a   certificate                                                                   
according to the proposal by Vice-Chair Bunde.                                                                                  
Vice-Chair  Bunde observed  that  parents do  not want  their                                                                   
special  needs  child  to be  left  with  mediocrity  through                                                                   
lowering of the  standards.  He addressed problems  with IEP.                                                                   
The special  needs parents  are concerned  that schools  will                                                                   
not raise  their children  up if the  standards are  too low.                                                                   
He  maintained  that the  exam  demonstrates  the ability  to                                                                   
read,  write and  do  math  at the  junior  high  level.   He                                                                   
stressed that students are graduating without basic skills.                                                                     
Representative  Hudson questioned  how the  child that  has a                                                                   
physical disability  and cannot read would be  prevented from                                                                   
receiving a diploma.  He stressed  that hope must be held out                                                                   
for children with disabilities.   Vice-Chair Bunde noted that                                                                   
any physical accommodation for  the physically impaired would                                                                   
be  made  through  an  accommodation.     He  reiterated  his                                                                   
concerns with the level of the standards.                                                                                       
Senator Green referred to Page  3, Section ©.  She noted that                                                                   
the Legislature does not control the IEP team.                                                                                  
Vice-Chair  Bunde  advised that  the  portfolio  is an  empty                                                                   
vessel  at this  time.   The  Department  has  the option  to                                                                   
recommend and assess the use of a portfolio.                                                                                    
Representative Davies  stressed that if the  amendment is not                                                                   
adopted, students  with above  average intelligence  would be                                                                   
eliminated if they  have disabilities.  He stressed  that the                                                                   
essential skill  set is  the real issue.   He commented  that                                                                   
the Legislative Body continues  to confuse the high standards                                                                   
with the essential skill set.                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Bunde   argued  that  there  are   many  students                                                                   
currently graduating that are functionally illiterate.                                                                          
Representative Whitaker asked  the research used for assuming                                                                   
that  10% IEP  students  would  grow or  that  the 90%  would                                                                   
decrease.  Vice-Chair Bunde stated  that was based on parents                                                                   
needs  in  the  school districts,  attempting  to  get  their                                                                   
special need student criteria met.                                                                                              
In response  to Representative  Whitaker, Dr. Johnson  stated                                                                   
that there are  approximately 135,000 students  in the State,                                                                   
K-12.  He noted that the legislation  addresses approximately                                                                   
9,000   students.     Dr.  Johnson  noted   that  with   each                                                                   
administration,  there  are  more   and  more  students  with                                                                   
disabilities  creating  demands  and  that  there  are  9,000                                                                   
graduating,   10%  with  disabilities   and  that   (200-400)                                                                   
students would not pass.                                                                                                        
GREG  MALONEY,  DIRECTOR,  SPECIAL  EDUCATION,  TEACHING  AND                                                                   
LEARNING   SUPPPORT,   DEPARTMENT   OF  EDUCATION   &   EARLY                                                                   
DEVELOPMENT,  affirmed  the  number  and  observed  that  the                                                                   
number is expected  to increase.  He noted  that all children                                                                   
would  be expected  to  take the  test  with  or without  the                                                                   
appropriate accommodations.   If they fail, they  would go to                                                                   
the IEP team, who would then decide  if accommodations should                                                                   
be used.   The child  would have incentive  to take  the test                                                                   
with endorsements and parents  would be part of the IEP team.                                                                   
He added that  parents do have procedural safeguards  if they                                                                   
disagree.  There  are three processes which  the parents have                                                                   
the right to undertake if they disagree:                                                                                        
 · Mediation;                                                                                                                   
 · Complaint investigation; and                                                                                                 
 · Due process hearing.                                                                                                         
Vice-Chair Bunde felt that IEP  endorsements would be flagged                                                                   
and that  federal law stipulates  that an IEP  student cannot                                                                   
be flagged.                                                                                                                     
Dr. Johnson  maintained  that the concern  could be  resolved                                                                   
with the waiver.  He stated that  was a large enough group of                                                                   
individuals  that  they  would  not be  able  to  identify  a                                                                   
student as a child  that is disabled.  He stated  that it was                                                                   
not a big problem.  Once the Department  determines to modify                                                                   
an exam for a  student, it is up to the Department  to defend                                                                   
that position.                                                                                                                  
Senator Green  noted that there  are students that  are using                                                                   
endorsements  to signify accomplishments.   Students  may not                                                                   
know the level to which they can  ascend, which keeps them on                                                                   
a continuum of hard work and high performance.                                                                                  
Vice-Chair  Bunde  responded  that  the  amendment  would  be                                                                   
limited to two  small groups.  He maintained  that the intent                                                                   
was not to make challenged children's time more difficult.                                                                      
SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         
The meeting was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.                                                                                          

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