Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/04/2014 08:30 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
--Delayed to 8:45 a.m. Today--
+= HB 199 VPSO FIREARMS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ HB 220 REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= SB 125 REJECT RECOMMENDATION OF COMP. COMMISSION TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 4, 2014                                                                                            
                         8:48 a.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:48:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman called the House Finance Committee                                                                           
meeting to order at 8:48 a.m.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
Representative Cathy Munoz                                                                                                      
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Daniel   George,   Staff,   Representative   Bill   Stoltze;                                                                    
Representative    Pete    Higgins;   Les    Morse,    Deputy                                                                    
Commissioner,    Department   of    Education   and    Early                                                                    
Development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mike Coons, Self, Palmer; Mary Nanuwak, Self, Anchorage.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 199    VPSO FIREARMS                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
          HB 199 was REPORTED out of committee with a "do                                                                       
          pass" recommendation and with a new zero fiscal                                                                       
          note from the House Finance Committee for the                                                                         
          Department of Public Safety.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
HB 220    REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          HB 220 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SB 125    REJECT RECOMMENDATION OF COMP. COMMISSION                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
          SB 125 was REPORTED out of committee with a "do                                                                       
          pass"    recommendation   and    with   previously                                                                    
          published zero fiscal note: FN1(ADM).                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 199                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to Department of Public Safety                                                                            
     regulations allowing village public safety officers to                                                                     
     carry firearms."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:49:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DANIEL   GEORGE,   STAFF,   REPRESENTATIVE   BILL   STOLTZE,                                                                    
explained the  new zero  fiscal impact  note from  the House                                                                    
Finance  Committee. He  explained that  the new  fiscal note                                                                    
reflected zero  operating, no change  in revenue  noted, and                                                                    
zero  fund  source  changes.  The   new  note  replaced  the                                                                    
previous note.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:51:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Austerman  solicited public testimony.  There being                                                                    
none public testimony was CLOSED.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:52:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Neuman  MOVED to REPORT  HB 199 out  of committee                                                                    
with individual recommendations  and the accompanying fiscal                                                                    
note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HB  199 was  REPORTED  out  of committee  with  a "do  pass"                                                                    
recommendation  and with  a new  zero fiscal  note from  the                                                                    
House  Finance  Committee  for   the  Department  of  Public                                                                    
Safety.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:53:00 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:54:20 AM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 220                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act  repealing  the secondary  student  competency                                                                    
     examination  and  related requirements;  and  providing                                                                    
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:54:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PETE HIGGINS, summarized the sponsor                                                                             
statement:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     CS HB  220 is up  for consideration this  session. This                                                                    
     legislation  repeals the  secondary student  competency                                                                    
     examination  and  related  reporting  requirements  for                                                                    
     these  exams   as  required  by  AS.14.03.075   and  AS                                                                    
     14.07.165(5).                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The repeal  of High  School Qualifying Exam  (HSGQE) or                                                                    
     "Exit Exam" is a step  forward in the process to reform                                                                    
     our Alaska  education system.  This hurdle  was created                                                                    
     to  measure  student  achievement followed  by  federal                                                                    
     pressure  created  with No  Child  Left  Behind Act  of                                                                    
     2001.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     This legislation equates to  a savings of approximately                                                                    
     2.7 million for the State of  Alaska that can be put to                                                                    
     better use for the education of our children.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     To continue to fund these  exams no longer makes fiscal                                                                    
     sense  for  our  state  and most  importantly  for  our                                                                    
     children.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The  Committee  Substitute  for  HB  220  28-LS0947\  U                                                                    
     Inserts the language                                                                                                       
     TRANSITION: STUDENT TESTING IN PROGRESS.                                                                                   
     Until June  30, 2017, a school  district shall continue                                                                    
     to administer the competency  examination for a student                                                                    
     who seeks to qualify for a secondary school diploma.                                                                       
     This  provides   fairness  for  students  who   are  in                                                                    
     transition.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:57:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  noted that the legislation  would save the                                                                    
state $1.4  million for the  next fiscal year, and  not $2.7                                                                    
million.  Representative Higgins  clarified  that the  state                                                                    
would fulfill the contract for the last time in 2015.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:58:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  asked why the program  was not ending                                                                    
in the  2014 school year. Representative  Higgins understood                                                                    
that  the contract  was  good  until 2015  and  it would  be                                                                    
better to  honor the  original contract  than to  spend time                                                                    
and money on new contract negotiations.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Higgins  assured the committee that  the test                                                                    
would end in the 2014  school year. Students that had failed                                                                    
the  test  would  have  the opportunity  to  take  the  test                                                                    
through 2015 in order to receive their high school diploma.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:00:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES MORSE, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND                                                                    
EARLY DEVELOPMENT, introduced himself.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:00:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara   asked  whether  students   who  would                                                                    
graduate by 2015  would still be required to  take the exam.                                                                    
Representative Higgins  explained that  if the  student were                                                                    
graduating in 2014, and could  not pass the exam, they would                                                                    
still receive a certificate of  achievement. He said that if                                                                    
a  student still  wanted receive  their high  school diploma                                                                    
they would have the opportunity  to retake the test in 2015,                                                                    
when the test would still be offered but not required.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:01:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara asked  why  the students  that did  not                                                                    
pass the  exam in 2014  would need to  retake it in  2015 in                                                                    
order   to  receive   a   diploma.  Representative   Higgins                                                                    
responded that attorneys for the  state had decided that the                                                                    
cleanest way to  phase out the test would be  to allow every                                                                    
student the  opportunity to  pass the  standard and  be done                                                                    
with it.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:03:23 AM                                                                                                                    
9:03:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holmes  asked  if  the  idea  of  continuing                                                                    
through to 2015 stemmed from that  by the time the bill went                                                                    
into effect the 2014 school  year would already be over. She                                                                    
asked whether  students who had  failed the exam  during the                                                                    
entire existence  of the program would  have the opportunity                                                                    
to retake the test.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Higgins shared that  the whole purpose behind                                                                    
allowing  the test  to phase  out through  2015 was  to give                                                                    
students the opportunity  to retake the test.  He added that                                                                    
there was a  possibility that the bill could make  it to the                                                                    
governor's desk before the 2014  school year ended, but that                                                                    
it was unlikely.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:06:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Morse  spoke to the  exit ramp  and how it  affected the                                                                    
fiscal note. He explained that  the note indicated the total                                                                    
current cost  of the exam  was $2.7 million. He  stated that                                                                    
there would  be a  savings of $1.4  million in  2015 because                                                                    
the  contract  would be  reduced  by  the removal  of  every                                                                    
component  given  to  current  sitting  students;  the  only                                                                    
students  that  would participate  in  any  testing in  2015                                                                    
would be  those who  held a  certificate of  achievement. He                                                                    
furthered that  the certificate meant  that the  student had                                                                    
net  all of  the  local  requirements but  had  not met  the                                                                    
graduation  requirement in  total  because  the high  school                                                                    
graduation qualifying  exam was also a  requirement. He said                                                                    
that   after   the  2014   school   year   there  would   be                                                                    
approximately 2,372 people  with certificates of achievement                                                                    
who had  not returned  to earn a  diploma; 591  had returned                                                                    
and  successfully  taken  the  test.  He  relayed  that  the                                                                    
transition  language  offered  those students  who  had  not                                                                    
passed the exam the opportunity  to try again. He reiterated                                                                    
that the  saving in year  1 would  be $1.4 million  and then                                                                    
$2.7 million in FY16.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:08:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Costello  queried   the  tests   that  were                                                                    
currently  conducted  on  high school  students.  Mr.  Morse                                                                    
responded  that   there  were  standard   based  assessments                                                                    
conducted  in  ninth and  tenth  grade.  In eleventh  grade,                                                                    
there was the Work Keys  assessment. He said that there were                                                                    
subpopulations of students that took other tests.                                                                               
9:09:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Costello  asked   how  long   it  took   to                                                                    
administer the exit exam. Mr. Morse  replied that it was a 3                                                                    
day exam, testing approximately 2 hours per day.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:09:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  asked whether  not having  to teach                                                                    
to the  test would  open up classroom  time for  teachers to                                                                    
spend time on other lessons  plans. Mr. Morse responded that                                                                    
the legislation would add to more instructional time.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:10:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello shared the  concern that high school                                                                    
graduates were  not entering  the work  force with  a strong                                                                    
work ethic. She wondered if  those skills could be taught in                                                                    
the  classroom. Mr.  Morse said  that the  department sought                                                                    
districts  that were  successfully  implementing work  ethic                                                                    
lessons  into their  programs and  asked those  districts to                                                                    
help  teach   their  peer  districts.   He  said   that  the                                                                    
department worked  to network  together districts  that were                                                                    
working on the issue.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Costello  asked   if  the   department  had                                                                    
considered  videotaping the  opportunities and  putting them                                                                    
online for other districts to access. Mr. Morse said yes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:13:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked how  long  a  student who  had                                                                    
failed  the test  had left  to  retake the  test. Mr.  Morse                                                                    
replied that  the student would have  another opportunity in                                                                    
fall of 2014 and spring of 2015.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:14:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  how many  opportunities  were                                                                    
available currently.  Mr. Morse said that  under the current                                                                    
system  the student  could take  the test  as many  times as                                                                    
they  needed  to as  long  as  they  held a  certificate  of                                                                    
achievement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:15:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wilson  wondered   how  the   $1.4  million                                                                    
reflected on the fiscal note  had been determined. Mr. Morse                                                                    
said  that  the $1.4  million  came  from working  with  the                                                                    
contractor.  He said  that the  figure  reflected the  fixed                                                                    
cost of  the scanners and  scorers. He said that  the number                                                                    
of  students  testing  would  not  change  the  fiscal  note                                                                    
because most of the $1.4 million was for fixed costs.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:16:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  wondered if  money could be  saved by                                                                    
allowing students  to get the General  Education Development                                                                    
exam  (GED) instead  of retaking  the exit  exam. Mr.  Morse                                                                    
shared that students had prepared  for the exit exam and not                                                                    
the GED, which could present  a challenge. He furthered that                                                                    
the  Department  of  Labor  and  Workforce  Development  had                                                                    
indicated that the GED was  not an inappropriate test to use                                                                    
for the purpose of an exit exam.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:17:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson queried  the  difference between  the                                                                    
two tests.  Representative Higgins  understood that  the GED                                                                    
did not qualify for an  assessment for a high school diploma                                                                    
because it was administered  through a different department.                                                                    
He asserted that the legislature  did not have the authority                                                                    
to change which department administered the test.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:18:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson believed  that the  legislature could                                                                    
make  a policy  change in  the bill.  Representative Higgins                                                                    
felt that the bill offered  a fair compromise and would save                                                                    
having to change laws and statutes.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:19:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg thought  that the  test could  be                                                                    
eliminated,  and  letters  could  be  sent  to  all  of  the                                                                    
students that had not passed  it letting them know that they                                                                    
qualified for a high school  diploma, and a diploma would be                                                                    
included in the letter.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:20:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  thought  that this  would  be  a                                                                    
simpler alternative  that would bring closure  for students.                                                                    
He  believed  that  if  the  state no  longer  held  to  the                                                                    
standard  it  did not  make  sense  for  the student  to  be                                                                    
required to meet it.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:20:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  wondered  whether students  who  had  not                                                                    
passed  the   test  in  the  past   would  receive  diplomas                                                                    
retroactively.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:21:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Higgins  said  that  the  exit  exam  was  a                                                                    
firewall  for  the military;  the  military  did not  accept                                                                    
certificates of  achievement. He  furthered that  some trade                                                                    
schools  did  not  accept certificates  of  achievement.  He                                                                    
shared  that  if  diplomas were  given  retroactively  there                                                                    
could  be   legal  repercussions.   He  stressed   that  the                                                                    
objective of  the bill  was to assure  that everyone  had an                                                                    
equal opportunity.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:23:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg asked what  students would need in                                                                    
order to  qualify for a high  school diploma. Representative                                                                    
Higgins responded that the student  would receive their high                                                                    
school diploma if they met the standards set by the state.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:23:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  surmised that currently,  all the                                                                    
state standards  could be  met, but if  the student  did not                                                                    
pass  the exit  exam they  would not  receive a  diploma. He                                                                    
understood that under  the bill, if a student  passed all of                                                                    
the   state  standards   they  would   receive  a   diploma.                                                                    
Representative Higgins replied in the affirmative.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:24:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg   reiterated  that  all   of  the                                                                    
students  who had  qualified under  the  state standards  up                                                                    
until  now, but  had not  passed  the exit  exam, should  be                                                                    
issued a diploma retroactively.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Higgins  thought   that   there  had   been                                                                    
disagreement in terms of the  value of the test. He proposed                                                                    
to the committee the idea that  the test had added value for                                                                    
the years that it had  been issued, that curriculums in each                                                                    
district had been  changed to make sure  that low performing                                                                    
students met  a standard; if diplomas  were to retroactively                                                                    
be provided to  all of the student that had  failed the test                                                                    
then the value of the law  that existed would be negated, as                                                                    
well as the  work that students who had passed  the test had                                                                    
done. He said  that the administration was in  favor of some                                                                    
transition language that would allow  the past law to retain                                                                    
value  for the  time  it existed,  and  that an  opportunity                                                                    
could  be  provided  for  those  former  students  with  the                                                                    
certificate of achievement to receive the full diploma.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Morse added that the reason  he had fought the exit exam                                                                    
for many  years was because  he believed that it  should not                                                                    
be tied to a high school diploma.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  surmised that there was  a finite                                                                    
group  of  people that  could  retake  the exam.  Mr.  Morse                                                                    
clarified that  there were 2,372  people, not  including the                                                                    
class of 2014, who could retake the test.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:27:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   queried  the   current  status   of  the                                                                    
contract.  Mr.   Morse  responded  that  it   was  a  yearly                                                                    
renewable contract,  negotiated on July  1 of each  year. He                                                                    
said  that  the  contract  could  be  renewed  through  2015                                                                    
without going through the procurement process.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:28:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze wondered  whether  there the  state had  a                                                                    
financial obligation  to the contract  with the  September 1                                                                    
effective date.  Mr. Morse replied that  the only obligation                                                                    
would be what was necessary in law.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:29:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Munoz  wondered how the 2,372  Alaskans would                                                                    
be  contacted  concerning  retaking   the  test.  Mr.  Morse                                                                    
responded that the department would  work with the districts                                                                    
that  had  the actual  contact  information.  He added  that                                                                    
there would be public notices and advertising.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:29:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Munoz  wondered if the fiscal  note reflected                                                                    
that  outreach   effort.  Mr.   Morse  responded   that  the                                                                    
department would be able to absorb the costs.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:30:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  asked why  the transition  language was                                                                    
necessary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:31:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Morse stressed  that the  administration believed  that                                                                    
transition language related to good policy.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:32:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  COONS, SELF,  PALMER  (via teleconference),  testified                                                                    
against the  legislation. He  expressed confusion  about the                                                                    
fiscal note.  He spoke of  testimony on the bill  from other                                                                    
committees.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:36:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY   NANUWAK,   SELF,  ANCHORAGE   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  opposition to  the legislation.  She expressed                                                                    
disappointment  with the  way  that  education dollars  were                                                                    
allocated within districts.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:41:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB  220  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:42:41 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:44:25 AM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 125                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act disapproving all recommendations of the State                                                                      
     Officers Compensation Commission relating to the                                                                           
     salaries of state officers; and providing for an                                                                           
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:44:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  announced that the bill  would prevent the                                                                    
spending  of   state  dollars  for  pay   increases  to  the                                                                    
governor, lt. governor and salary department heads.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:44:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello requested that  page 3 of the fiscal                                                                    
note be  posted in color online  so that the chart  could be                                                                    
more easily understood.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:45:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze directed his staff to do so.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:45:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Neuman  MOVED to REPORT  SB 125 out  of committee                                                                    
with individual recommendations  and the accompanying fiscal                                                                    
note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SB  125 was  REPORTED  out  of committee  with  a "do  pass"                                                                    
recommendation  and with  previously  published zero  fiscal                                                                    
note: FN1 (ADM).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
9:46:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 9:46 a.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CS HB 220 Section Analysis .pdf HFIN 3/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 220
CS HB 220 Sponsors Statement.pdf HFIN 3/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 220
Explanation of changes CS HB220.pdf HFIN 3/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 220
HB220 Response Rep. Higgins to HFIN.pdf HFIN 3/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 220
HB 220 Amendment 1 Thompson.pdf HFIN 3/4/2014 8:30:00 AM
HB 220