Legislature(1993 - 1994)
02/22/1994 03:00 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE February 22, 1994 3:00 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Rep. Cynthia Toohey, Co-Chair Rep. Con Bunde, Co-Chair Rep. Gary Davis, Vice Chair Rep. Al Vezey Rep. Pete Kott Rep. Harley Olberg Rep. Irene Nicholia Rep. Tom Brice MEMBERS ABSENT Rep. Bettye Davis (excused) OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT Rep. Terry Martin Rep. Jeannette James Rep. Eldon Mulder COMMITTEE CALENDAR HB 417: "An Act relating to the possession of deadly weapons within the grounds of or on the parking lot of preschools, elementary, junior high, and secondary schools; and relating to school lockers and other containers provided in a public or private school by the school or the school district." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE *HB 362: "An Act establishing the crime of aiding the nonpayment of child support." HEARD AND HELD *HB 429: "An Act relating to the special education service agency." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HB 359: "An Act making special appropriations to the Department of Education for construction or upgrade of schools on military installations: and providing for an effective date." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HJR 47: Relating to schools on military installations." PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing.) WITNESS REGISTER JERRY LUCKHAUPT, Attorney Legislative Legal Counsel Legislative Affairs Agency 130 Seward St. Juneau, Alaska 99801 Phone: (907) 465-2450 Position Statement: Answered legal questions on CSHB 417 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorneys General Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Phone: (907) 465-4049 Position Statement: Answered legal questions on CSHB 417 MARY GAY, Director Child Support Enforcement Division Department of Revenue 550 W. 7th, Ste 312 Anchorage, Alaska 99501-3556 Phone: (907) 269-6800 Position Statement: Testified in support of HB 362 (spoke via offnet) COMMISSIONER MARGARET LOWE Department of Health and Social Services P.O. Box 110601 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0601 Phone: (907) 465-3030 Position Statement: Answered questions on HB 429 SHEILA PETERSON, Special Assistant to Commissioner Covey Department of Education 801 10th St., Ste. 200 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Phone: (907) 465-2803 Position Statement: Answered questions on HB 429 DAVID MALTMAN, Executive Director Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education P.O. Box 240249 Anchorage, Alaska 99524-0249 Phone: (907) 563-5355 Position Statement: Answered questions on HB 429 (spoke via offnet) PATRICK MADROS, Chairperson Yukon-Koyukuk School District P.O. Box 80210 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Phone: (907) 662-2515 Position Statement: Testified in opposition to HB 359 DUANE GUILEY, Director Division of Education Finance and Support Services Department of Education 801 W. 10th St., Suite 200 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894 Phone: (907) 465-2891 Position Statement: Answered questions on HB 359 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 417 SHORT TITLE: POSSESSION OF FIREARMS IN SCHOOL LOCKERS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/31/94 2205 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/31/94 2205 (H) HES, JUDICIARY 02/17/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 02/17/94 (H) MINUTE(HES) BILL: HB 362 SHORT TITLE: AIDING NONPAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MARTIN,B.Davis JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/11/94 2033 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/11/94 2033 (H) HES, JUDICIARY 01/13/94 2056 (H) COSPONSOR(S): B. DAVIS 02/22/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HB 429 SHORT TITLE: SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) JAMES JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/02/94 2220 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/02/94 2220 (H) HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES 02/22/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HB 359 SHORT TITLE: APPROP: CONSTRUCT/UPGRADE ON-BASE SCHOOLS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MULDER BY REQUEST OF MILITARY SCHOOLS TASK FORCE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/11/94 2032 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/11/94 2032 (H) HES, FINANCE 02/08/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 02/08/94 (H) MINUTE(HES) 02/22/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HJR 47 SHORT TITLE: FUNDS TO UPGRADE MILITARY BASE SCHOOLS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MULDER BY REQUEST OF MILITARY SCHOOLS TASK FORCE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/11/94 2031 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/11/94 2031 (H) HES, FINANCE 02/08/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 02/08/94 (H) MINUTE(HES) 02/22/94 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-25, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIR BUNDE called the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m., noted members present and announced the calendar. He brought HB 417 to the table. CHAIR BUNDE indicated that Representatives Martin, James and Mulder were present. HB 417 - POSSESSION OF FIREARMS IN SCHOOL LOCKERS CHAIR BUNDE stated that after much consideration, he had Jerry Luckhaupt from Legislative Legal Counsel draft the new committee substitute (CS) that prescribes punishment to be a class A misdemeanor opposed to a Class C felony. It was his intention that the Class A misdemeanor would send the appropriate message. Number 165 REP. TOOHEY made a motion to adopt the CS as a working draft. Number 169 CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, declared that the CS was so moved. He stated that Section 1 amends AS 11.61.220 by providing that a person commits the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree if the person possesses a deadly weapon on school grounds, a parking lot, preschool, elementary, junior high, secondary, and in some situations, post-secondary schools. He said the violation is a Class B demeanor. CHAIR BUNDE then said, "Mr. Luckhaupt, I thought we moved to Class A." Number 202 MR. LUCKHAUPT, Attorney, Legislative Legal Counsel, Legislative Affairs Agency, stated that the section Chair Bunde read from was used for the original CS. He further stated that since he had been working all day, prior to the meeting, on the CS he did not have time to prepare a sectional. Number 234 CHAIR BUNDE indicated that version 8-LS1589/O (version O) of the CS was the proposal being addressed. He asked Mr. Luckhaupt to address CS (version O). MR. LUCKHAUPT said that Section 1 makes possession of deadly weapons on school grounds and school sponsored events a Class A misdemeanor. He said it was the same language used in AS 11.61.220 of the previous CS (version J). He continued and said Section 2 applies an exception to peace officers that allows them, within the performance of duty, to possess a deadly weapon on school grounds. Section 3 repeals the language that was taken out of AS 11.61.220 regarding the possession of a firearm on school grounds. He stated it was a conforming change. He said Section 4 and Section 5 remain the same. He indicated a change on page 1, line 1, of the title, where the word deadly was deleted, leaving the title to indicate the possession of weapons, not deadly weapons. Number 323 CHAIR BUNDE clarified by saying the term weapons would include deadly and defensive weapons. MR. LUCKHAUPT agreed. He said the changes required were minimal in changing from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A. CHAIR BUNDE said last week the bill was amended to include school sponsored events. Number 353 REP. TOOHEY said she might be missing Section 5. MR. LUCKHAUPT interjected that a mistake was made and that Section 6 should be Section 5. Number 387 After some discussion, REP. TOOHEY, made a motion to adopt the technical amendment changing Section 6 to Section 5. REP. BRICE asked if the word participating would include being a person who purchases a ticket and sits in the stands. CHAIR BUNDE said that it was his understanding that a prosecutor would be able to establish to the jury the offenders' intentions under the definition of participating. Number 403 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorneys General, Department of Law, agreed with Chair Bunde. REP. BRICE asked if the legislation was applicable to people walking in and out of the gates of a football game in a borough park. MS. KNUTH replied yes. Number 434 REP. OLBERG asked if there was a definition of defensive weapon. CHAIR BUNDE responded that defensive weapon is defined in statute. MR. LUCKHAUPT read from statute the definition of defensive weapon: "an electric stun gun, or a devise to dispense mace or a similar chemical agent that is not designed to cause death or serious physical injury." Number 455 REP. VEZEY asked if lines 1-10 on page 3 were being deleted. MR. LUCKHAUPT said that AS 11.61.220 (a)(4)(a) was being repealed. REP. VEZEY stated that the line would read, "...knowingly possesses a firearm within the grounds or on a parking lot." MR. LUCKHAUPT agreed. He said that lines 12-15 on page 3 pertained to child care centers. He indicated that the proposal was dealing with schools and weapons in school lockers and child care centers could not be included. Number 520 REP. VEZEY asked what the intent was under Section 2. CHAIR BUNDE said it was not his intent to disallow peace officers to have a deadly weapon when they are on school grounds. REP. VEZEY asked what Chair Bunde interpreted as being the scope and authority of a peace officer's employment. CHAIR BUNDE stated that they are following their sworn duty. REP. VEZEY asked what the circumstances would be if the peace officers were off duty. CHAIR BUNDE maintained that they are still sworn officers. He further stated if a person is a sworn officer and is off duty, that officer is required to respond to crimes in progress. REP. VEZEY suggested that the sentence be terminated after the words peace officer. Number 565 MR. LUCKHAUPT stated that the section was drafted the same way as existing statute. He further stated that from his understanding peace officers are in reality on duty 24 hours a day within a municipality, even though pay is for only eight hours a day. MS. KNUTH agreed with Mr. Luckhaupt. She said she did not find the language troublesome. REP. VEZEY asked the legal circumstance of an off duty Fairbanks peace officer who attends a North Pole school function. He stated that the officer would be clearly out of his/her jurisdiction. MS. KNUTH said that the language contained in the CS is the same language used for concealed weapons, which holds exception for peace officers. She also explained that if a peace officer has the ability to carry a concealed weapon anywhere, he/she is also able to go on to school grounds. Number 636 CHAIR BUNDE asked if there would be legal implications to an officer in uniform wearing a nonconcealed weapon. MS. KNUTH she said what is trying to be avoided is the peace officer who "goes bonkers" and goes to a school ground. She said that peace officers have no special privileges because of their specific employment. CHAIR BUNDE stated, "Beyond the scope of their employment." MS. KNUTH agreed. CHAIR BUNDE understood Rep. Vezey's concern, but said he was comfortable with the language. Number 685 REP. NICHOLIA conveyed the rural perspective. She said some students have a long distance to travel to school. She said they carry guns with them, in a car or truck, or walking, in case of bear encounters. She asked what kind of impact the proposal would have on rural areas. MS. KNUTH explained that there should be no impact because the focus of the proposal is to change the offense from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. She indicated that there is already a provision to allow a student to obtain special permission from a school administrator to carry a weapon. REP. NICHOLIA said that the legislation would allow a person over 21 years of age to have a gun in the trunk of a car or encased in a closed container in a motor vehicle. She asserted that in rural areas there are more trucks than cars. She explained that with trucks not having trunks, most people have racks in their trucks. She felt that the legislation would have a drastic effect on rural communities, and asked if there could be a change made to address the issue. MS. KNUTH said the issue was addressed when the language was adopted by the legislature two or three years ago. She said that the law provides for these situations. She said if a person in a rural community continually picks their child up from school in a truck with a rack with a rifle on it, special arrangements should be made with the school administrator. She said the provision focuses mainly on having knowledge of the weapons in a community and making sure that people are acting responsibly. REP. NICHOLIA said, "A state trooper or someone who might be in the area could interpret it in a different way, and we'd end up with a huge lawsuit or huge court case." She then said that people in rural areas usually do not have the funds to defend themselves with a good lawyer. MS. KNUTH said the residents of rural areas should already be making special arrangements to avoid those difficulties. Number 786 CHAIR BUNDE observed that an intoxicated person with a loaded weapon on a school ground would be just as much of a danger in rural Alaska than in urban Alaska. REP. KOTT, referring to page 2, line 20, asked if a security guard contracted by the school for a special event would be provided for within Section 2. MS. KNUTH said no. She said that a police officer is a person with law enforcement authority, and a security guard does not have that authority. CHAIR BUNDE indicated that security guards on school properties are not armed. MR. LUCKHAUPT said that the chief of administration could approve the possession of weapons for security guards. REP. KOTT asked about the implications if a security guard were just contracted for a weekend sporting event. MS. KNUTH, to her understanding, said that private security guards are not permitted to carry concealed weapons. Therefore, she said, the chief administrative officer of a school could permit them to carry a weapon as long as it is not concealed. Number 850 REP. VEZEY asked what was being accomplished under the proposal that is not under existing law. CHAIR BUNDE asserted that the main thrust of the bill is the ability to search lockers, which is not available at the present time. REP. VEZEY asked if that was not already allowed by statute. MR. LUCKHAUPT explained that there is a certain amount of authority allowed in common law to search lockers. Students do not have an absolute right to privacy within a school. He said the intent of the bill is to provide chief administrators of schools with statute that offers guidelines of when and how a locker can be searched. A level of certainty would be provided for administrative officers by decreasing the risk of potential law suits. He further stated that the search provisions of the bill do not decrease or eliminate any other rights the already exist. Number 924 REP. BRICE made a motion to move CSHB 417 (version O) out of committee with individual recommendations. CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, said CSHB 417 had moved out of committee. CHAIR BUNDE brought HB 362 to the table. CSHB 362 - "An Act relating to the statute of limitations for actions brought upon a child support judgment; and establishing the crime of aiding the nonpayment of child support." Number 944 REP. TERRY MARTIN, Prime Sponsor of HB 362, shared a brief analysis with the committee. He said the Child Support Enforcement Division (the Division) does not have the tools necessary to do an adequate job. He said federal funding received during the interim provided for 42 new positions, allowing for more efficient enforcement. He said the important element of the bill is the "third-party barrier." He related a scenario of a person who is working for an employer who is not only aware of the employee's obligation to child support, but also is helping the employee to evade child support payments or is fraudulently paying the employee under the table or is paying a relative or friend the employee's wages in order to avoid garnishment. Rep. Martin said under those circumstances it is difficult for enforcement to tap the resources of the individual. REP. MARTIN told the committee that there was a chart in their bill packets that indicates that the total amount owed by the top 100 nonpayors of child support is $16 million. He said the factors range from delays in payments to people actually moving to remote areas to avoid contact with enforcement. REP. MARTIN said the proposal is one of the most important tools developed that is not only necessary for the Division to collect revenues, but also is necessary to prohibit a third party from interfering with enforcement of child support. He then offered a committee substitute (CS) for HB 362 that provides an attachment for ten years as opposed to every year. REP. MARTIN stated that the federal government has completed a report on the state of Alaska that shows the state has not made "reasonable attempts" to try to catch "deadbeat" parents. He asserted that the federal government would not continue to support the state at the current level if the enforcement system fails to make advances in the arrears. He maintained that the Division now has the manpower and technical equipment to carry out the task, but legislation is needed to "knock down" the creative barriers that nonpayors have erected. Number 063 CHAIR BUNDE identified Mary Gay as being on offnet to testify from Anchorage. REP. MARTIN introduced Nancy Manley and indicated that she would be the spokesperson for HB 362 for the remainder of the meeting, as he had to attend another committee meeting, posthaste. CHAIR BUNDE asked if there were any questions for Rep. Martin before he left. Number 076 REP. VEZEY stated that he had considerable problems with the proposal. He felt it was inappropriate to hold family, friends, and employees responsible for a nonpayor's financial obligations. He suggested that in a case where an employee returns to a business five years later, the employer would have been legally obligated to honor the order from enforcement for the five previous years. He said not only would the proposed legislation hold the employer civilly responsible for the nonpayment of child support, it would also make the employer guilty of a Class C felony. He said that he too is an employer and is concerned with the business climate of the state. He said he could not support the legislation. REP. MARTIN stated that he has gone to the defense of friends who are employers that did not know the employee was in arrear for child support. He said in that specific incidence he felt the state went "way overboard trying to make him be the guilty one" when his friend had no idea that his employee was in arrears. REP. MARTIN said the key words within the proposal are, "...one who intentionally..." He also added that it is not only employers but also relatives and friends. He said currently there is no way of preventing this type of evasion. He explained that some fathers are so upset by a divorce that they would go to any lengths to avoid payment. Number 146 REP. VEZEY said that being in receipt of a law enforcement order that has not been obeyed by a subsequent court order does put an employer, in a knowing position, in the position of having to defend against an accusation of intentional failure. He said it could cost at least $20,000 to go to court to prove an employer is innocent, and because of the economics the employer would likely plead guilty. REP. MARTIN said it would allow the people in desperate need of the support payment to defend their need of the owed money. Number 164 CHAIR BUNDE pointed out that Rep. Martin had referred to new computer equipment and other technology that would be needed and then inquired to the zero fiscal note. REP. MARTIN said that within the last year the Division had been upgraded with funds from last year's budget. TAPE 94-25, SIDE B Number 000 REP. TOOHEY said that obviously the chart of nonpayors exhibits many years of nonpayment. She asked, if a person owed $207,000 and was legally working, how would that amount be "broken down?" REP. MARTIN responded that most people don't know that they can appeal for an adjustment that would be relative to that person's financial ability. He said that most people do not go through the appeal process because they are fearful. He also acknowledged that some of the nonpayors on the chart are indeed financially destitute, but the Division needs to know they can be removed from the list. He then said the next problem that must be addressed regarding the chart is when to take people off the list. Number 062 CHAIR BUNDE said he was relieved to find that it does not matter where people live in Alaska, they still owe money. He found it amazing that people can be that far in debt from places where they claim to not have much employment. REP. MARTIN said that the chart indicates how diverse the problem is, and how it shows that the problem is not centered in the large cities. He then related the large expense involved in investigating a case in a distant rural area. Number 096 CHAIR BUNDE asked if Rep. Martin, upon passage of the proposal, was anticipating a bigger budget for continuing enforcement. REP. MARTIN said that the department already knows who the people are and where they live that are participating as a third party in the evasion of payments. Number 113 REP. VEZEY said he found it difficult to conceive of how a person could run up $235,000 of debt. He said that at some time that person, in the eyes of the court, must have had considerable assets and income. REP. MARTIN said that he could not give Rep. Vezey specific case figures, but indicated that a lot of the debts shown on the chart span many years. REP. VEZEY said if some one owed him $245,000 and he had a court order to enforce it, he would go to court to obtain papers to attach the debt to the nonpayor's assets. He felt the $50,000 in the legal fees would be an excellent investment. Number 194 REP. BRICE said he did not agree with the zero fiscal note. He asserted that it would probably be a negative fiscal note, considering the cost of finding a "deadbeat dad" and making them come up with the payments. CHAIR BUNDE interjected that there may be "deadbeat mothers" also. Number 217 REP. TOOHEY said, "Once a father, always a father." She said laws for child support enforcement may have only been written in 1980, and questioned if the debts are retroactive, perhaps dating back to 1971. REP. MARTIN said that in most cases the Division is looking for the parent that has forced the spouse with custody on to the welfare rolls. He said that when the debt starts being repaid, the spouse can then be taken off public assistance. He said the proposal would decrease the number of welfare recipients by finding the deadbeat parent and enforcing payments. REP. TOOHEY said that in most instances, Rep. Martin is assuming that the parent is working. REP. MARTIN he said the Division knows that the nonpayor has income but is fraudulently diverting income, either through employers, friends, or relatives. He said that circumstance is what HB 362 is specifically addressing. Number 269 REP. NICHOLIA, relating to the rural perspective, said that many people worked during the pipeline era where salaries were considerable. She said now pipeline jobs are scarce, people have moved back to their villages where there are no jobs, and they are very financially stressed. She felt that the bill would only add another burden, in that they do not often come out from under that kind of debt. She also said that people in the rural communities would have a difficult time paying for attorneys in regards to adjusting child support payments. She said Rep. Martin's intentions are good, but the bill would have a negative impact on people in rural communities. REP. MARTIN said HB 362 focuses on the third-party barrier. CHAIR BUNDE thanked Rep. Martin and said that Nancy Manley would be available on Rep. Martin's behalf to answer further questions. He then asked Mary Gay to testify via offnet. Number 325 MARY GAY, Director, Child Support Enforcement Division, Department of Revenue, testified via offnet from Alaska. She said that the legislation would assist in the enforcement of payments by deterring individuals from knowingly assisting nonpayors for the purpose of defrauding the state. She said it would also deter the nonpayor from concealing or transferring assets for the purpose of defrauding the state or the child for whom the support is owed. She said the proposed legislation provides penalties for the person who is involved in a third-party situation and also the stipulation that the third-party would assist in the prosecution of the nonpayor. She felt the proposal would prevent these practices in the future, as the individuals would be aware of the penalties for making such arrangements. Number 374 REP. KOTT referred to page 1, lines 9-11, and said that under constitution a family member cannot be forced to testify against another member of the family. He asked if the proposed legislation would go against that current statute. MS. GAY said no. Number 400 REP. TOOHEY said that the person everyone is forgetting is the child that the state is having to feed and clothe. She said all the proposal is doing is asking "these guys to make some restitution, whether they're in a village or they live in downtown Anchorage." She said the parent is being asked to pay their fair share for the child, regardless of their race or gender. She stated they are responsible for the children's well being. REP. G. DAVIS said he was sure everyone felt as Rep. Toohey did, but he felt the bill was extending the long arm of the law, which he thinks is already aware of who these people are and where they reside. He pointed out the subpoena powers of the Child Support Enforcement Division and said he did not see how the legislation would help. He felt HB 362 would not have an impact on those deadbeat parents who already know how to beat the system. He felt if he could be convinced that the legislation would have an impact, he could support it. Number 467 CHAIR BUNDE said HB 362 would be held over for further consideration. REP. VEZEY said that he did not feel the bill had any relation to the top 100 chart provided by Rep. Martin. He said he would like to ask the Child Support Enforcement Division if it is known how many assets are behind the debts on the chart. MS. GAY replied that she could only speculate. She said perhaps some of the nonpayors had considerable earning power at one time. She related situations where an obligor and current spouse have a business, but the obligor would not receive a paycheck, and also is eating, driving a car, and entertaining on the spouse's business expense account. She indicated that friends of obligors also participate in this type of fraud, and these practices are more common than people would like to believe. Number 539 REP. VEZEY maintained that if $245,450 was owed him, he would go to any length to obtain any of the assets. He felt the chart, with such substantial amounts, indicated incompetence somewhere in the system. He asked what good comes from the bill if the nonpayor doesn't have any assets. He also felt that the legislation would make criminals out of civic minded, productive citizens, and questioned the classification of a felony. Number 567 MS. GAY asserted that it is a federal felony to owe more than $5000 in child support payments. REP. VEZEY inquired as to how many people fill that category. He said, "I don't see the federal government running out there to incarcerate these people." MS. GAY said, "...with the federal government ...they didn't fund the legislation." REP. VEZEY said he understood that. He reiterated again his being uncomfortable with the legislation. Number 602 CHAIR BUNDE stated that the bill was not ready to move out of committee and asked Rep. Vezey to chair a subcommittee with Rep. Gary Davis to work with Rep. Martin. He directed them to come back with answers one week from the day the meeting was held, and at that time a decision would be made as to whether the bill would be heard again. Number 627 REP. G. DAVIS asked if it was becoming easier to prove intent to defraud. MS. GAY responded no. Number 637 CHAIR BUNDE closed testimony on HB 362 and brought HB 429 to the table. HB 429 - SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY CHAIR BUNDE, awaiting the arrival of Rep. Jeannette James, took a brief at ease at 4:06 and reconvened at 4:09. He announced the calendar for the remainder of the week. Number 689 REP. JEANNETTE JAMES, Prime Sponsor of HB 429, said, "I think this is probably the shortest bill in history." She stated that HB 429 was intended to enhance the operation of the state's Special Education Service Agency (SESA). She said the agency makes special education services accessible to children with severe or unusual disabilities who need specialized services not normally found in their district. She said SESA assures that qualified specialists are available to assist remote districts to increase their ability to deliver required services. She asserted that the bill would repeal the requirement for the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education to govern the organization. She explained that the mission of the Governor's Council is to plan, evaluate, and promote services to people with disabilities. It should not govern part of the service system that is designed to evaluate and critique. She said SESA will create a consumer driven governing board. The new board will consist of people from rural areas and representatives of organizations that use the agency services. She said there is no cost to the program, and the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education is an advocacy group not a services group. She said the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education has been providing services. Number 723 CHAIR BUNDE said, "This replaces an existing group, that's why it's a zero fiscal note... or the existing group had a zero fiscal note." REP. JAMES said that a board within the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education will be made a separate board and stand alone. She said that federal funding is already in place. CHAIR BUNDE asked if it is 100% federal funding. REP. JAMES deferred the question to Commissioner Margaret Lowe. COMMISSIONER MARGARET LOWE, Department of Health and Social Services, stated that the board is state funded, under the same funds that provide foundation funding. She said there is no fiscal note because only the oversight of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education is being taken away. She said that there is no need for additional funding. Number 754 CHAIR BUNDE reiterated that the legislation was changing the name of the program. REP. VEZEY asked what the relationship was between SESA and the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. Number 800 COMMISSIONER LOWE explained that the state felt services need to be accessible to rural areas around the state to "low incidence impairments." She said low incidence impairments relate to circumstances where perhaps there is a blind child in a rural community and the school district cannot afford to hire a teacher for the blind for that one child. She said the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education saw the need for a program to address those issues and that is how the board was formed. COMMISSIONER LOWE said they have had a subcommittee of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and SESA has had oversight over the special education services with its own special board. She further stated that the board has always been subject to the approval of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. Number 798 REP. VEZEY said there would be redundant board review. COMMISSIONER LOWE said there was not only redundancy, but also a main problem with the board is that presently the advocacy agency is also being the oversight. She said it seems to indicate a conflict of interest. REP. TOOHEY asked where the committee would go, or would it stand alone. COMMISSIONER LOWE said it would stand alone, and then other legislation would be proposed to give it its own statutory authority. REP. TOOHEY asked where the funds would be funnelled from. COMMISSIONER LOWE said that it is fully funded by the Department of Education (DOE). Number 837 REP. KOTT questioned the zero fiscal note and felt there would still be costs to the transition that should be reflected in the fiscal note. REP. TOOHEY said, if that were the case, the bill would not be supported. She said it was a funding shift. Number 850 REP. JAMES reiterated that there was no cost involved in the removal of the board from the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. CHAIR BUNDE clarified by saying, "This is a name change. There is still a cost to what this group does, but it is funded by the Department of Education." He questioned if Rep. Kott was inquiring as to the how much it costs to fund that particular board. REP. KOTT said that was a fair assessment. Number 881 SHEILA PETERSON, Special Assistant to Commissioner Covey, Department of Education, said that she could ask Duane Guiley, Director of the Division of Education Finance and Support Services for the Department of Education, exactly how much funding SESA receives. CHAIR BUNDE said it would answer a question that does not affect the bill one way or the other. He then asked for further testimony. Number 902 DAVID MALTMAN, Executive Director, Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, testified via offnet. He said that HB 429 would repeal the requirement of the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education to govern the State Special Education Service Agency. He said the council had felt it was inappropriate to have an advocacy program also evaluating and critiquing service programs. Number 916 CHAIR BUNDE asked what relationship Mr. Maltman was to the council. MR. MALTMAN said he was the executive director. CHAIR BUNDE asked for further questions. There being none, Chair Bunde asked the pleasure of the committee. REP. VEZEY made a motion to pass HB 429 out of committee with individual recommendations with the attached fiscal note. Hearing no objections, CHAIR BUNDE stated that HB 429 was so moved. Number 935 CHAIR BUNDE brought HB 359 to the table. HB 359 - APPROP: CONSTRUCT/UPGRADE ON-BASE SCHOOLS TAPE 94-26, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIR BUNDE asked if there were any questions for Rep. Eldon Mulder. REP. TOOHEY asked if there was forthcoming information from the DOE regarding HB 359. Number 020 REP. ELDON MULDER, Prime Sponsor of HB 359, said that the DOE does not categorize military bases within their process, although the DOE would like military base schools to be within their process. Number 280 PATRICK MADROS, Chairperson, Yukon-Koyukuk School District, testified in opposition to HB 359. He stated that the proposal would provide $26,099,300 of state money for the construction of a new elementary school at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) and upgrades to the remaining on base schools in Fairbanks and Anchorage, virtually ignoring the statewide school construction priority process. He maintained that Yukon Koyukuk and other school districts have followed the current CPI process and have also appealed the position of one of the district's projects. He felt to pass HB 359 would be to ignore the current process and statewide prioritized need. He stated that the military base schools should apply in the same manner that all other districts are required to. MR. MADROS further explained various states of disrepair in several schools within the Yukon-Koyukuk School District. He asserted that there must be equality in the process of prioritization with both military and state run schools. He also indicated that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) upgraded all their facilities before they were given over to the state. He felt that military base schools should also upgrade their facilities before turning them over to the state. Number 394 CHAIR BUNDE agreed that the children of Yukon-Koyukuk are just as important as children anywhere else in the state. REP. TOOHEY said the military would like to give the schools over to the state, but the state cannot accept them because of the conditions of most of the schools. She said it is a catch 22 situation and indicated that Rep. Mulder was proposing that the military pay half and the state pay half to upgrade these schools. She questioned Mr. Madros as to how the problem should be solved. MR. MADROS indicated that Adak School was upgraded and was eventually shut down. REP. MULDER explained that the U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. DOD) built the Adak school. REP. TOOHEY clarified and said there was not state money involved in the upgrade. Number 479 REP. MULDER maintained that BIA schools were funded by the federal government. He said that he would welcome federal funds to accomplish the needed upgrades. He said the problem is that the military would never receive $52 million in one lump sum from the government. He also said that if the base schools are not upgraded, their chances for closure are greater. He said if the state leverages half of the needed funds to make the upgrades, it would show the federal government that the state is willing to cooperate and solve its own problems. MR. MADROS said that the Adak schools did not go through the due process that his district has. He felt that Alaska is in a strategically key position and that most of the state's bases will not be closed. He said HB 359 would allow base schools "through the back door" for upgrades. Number 600 REP. NICHOLIA stated that funding the schools and making the upgrades would not safeguard them from closure. She felt that perhaps only one base would be closed, seeing as the state is so close to Europe. REP. KOTT asked Rep. Mulder what would happen if upgrades were made to the schools on Fort Richardson Army Installation and then the base was closed in 1996. REP. MULDER said that it was his understanding that "dime one" would not be spent on Fort Richardson until there is assurance that the base will not be closed. He said the potential for closure is very possible. He asserted that the economic impact on Alaska would be a loss of approximately $200 million annually. Number 666 REP. TOOHEY asked how many public students are enrolled in the base schools. REP. MULDER said he did not know, but indicated there were more public students attending base schools in Fairbanks than in Anchorage. REP. VEZEY asked which school in Fairbanks he was referring to. REP. MULDER said he was not sure which school on Eielson Air Force Base was attended by public students. Number 714 CHAIR BUNDE stated that the majority of the base schools on Eielson are attended by public students. MR. MADROS noted that the Air Force guaranteed Galena that they would not close the military base there for an "umpteen" number of years if they upgraded their power plant facility. He said a few years later the air force base was shut down. Number 759 CHAIR BUNDE indicated that Mr. Madros brought up a good point when he mentioned due process. REP. VEZEY asked Mr. Madros if Galena still has a 20 year contract with the U.S. Air Force regardless of the base closure. MR. MADROS said he was unsure. REP. VEZEY said that the U.S. Air Force did enter into a 20 year contract with Galena, and it was his understanding that the city will be paid regardless of the fact that no power is being generated by the new power plant. MR. MADROS asked how one goes about suing the federal government. REP. VEZEY clarified by saying that he thought Mr. Madros might have updated information on that issue. Number 796 REP. TOOHEY explained that if the state produces $26 million, the federal government would match that amount. MR. MADROS reiterated that Yukon-Koyukuk School District is in need much like other schools and stressed due process. Number 822 CHAIR BUNDE asked for further questions. REP. KOTT asked Rep. Mulder if there was a companion bill to HB 359. Number 830 REP. MULDER said no. He also said that the military base situation is an "odd duck" because of the problem of financial responsibility and taxing authority and because of the political dimension. He said if it weren't for those specific factors, the military would go by the state priority procedures. CHAIR BUNDE said that he did not have any answers to the concerns of committee. Number 874 REP. KOTT said the question is whether or not the base schools should be funded. He said he would support moving HB 359 to the Finance committee to make that decision. REP. TOOHEY agreed with Rep. Kott. She asked Rep. Mulder who would be financially responsible if the ceiling was to collapse at Ursa Minor School. REP. MULDER said he was uncertain. REP. TOOHEY stated it was assumed that the roof of that school was in a worse state of disrepair than the schools in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District. REP. MULDER said technically Ursa Minor is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE). Number 918 CHAIR BUNDE speculated that the U.S. DOE would close the school if the roof was to collapse. Number 930 DUANE GUILEY, Director, Division of Education Finance and Support Services, Department of Education, answered questions on HB 359. He stated that it was the joint responsibility of the U.S. DOE and state DOE for major maintenance and school construction. He said the legislature has previously provided funding for major maintenance and construction to districts for life/health safety issues. He maintained that $7 million was granted to the Anchorage School District for the seven military base schools. He said approximately $145,000 was spent per facility to address electrical upgrades and fire marshall code violations. He mentioned several other base schools that received state funding. Mr. Guiley stated that Fairbanks has a six year plan that is a phased approach whereby they ask for planning design money and then the funds for school construction. He said those projects have been applied for by the Fairbanks School District. He also said the Anchorage School District indicated that they would complete applications for all military base schools on Anchorage military bases to be evaluated and ranked in the priority process. Number 017 REP. TOOHEY asked if the base schools would then be on the statewide priority list or if they would be on their "own priority." Number 020 MR. GUILEY said the DOE would envision putting the base schools on the statewide priority list. He stated that the Eielson AFB school construction grant is 14th on the statewide priority list and that it was number one on the military task force list. Number 035 CHAIR BUNDE appreciated the concerns of all who testified. He asked the pleasure of the committee. REP. VEZEY made a motion to pass HB 359 out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objections, CHAIR BUNDE said HB 359 was so moved. He then brought HJR 47 to the table. HJR 47 - FUNDS TO UPGRADE MILITARY ON BASE SCHOOLS REP. MULDER stated that HJR 47 was a proposal expressing the legislature's encouragement to resolve the military school base problem expeditiously and transfer the schools to the state's charge as soon as possible. He said the federal government does have funds available to match the state's share. He also mentioned that the Chairperson for the State Board of Education, Patty Norheim, was on the task force. Number 114 CHAIR BUNDE asked if there were any questions or further discussion. There being none, he asked the pleasure of the committee. REP. TOOHEY made a motion to pass HJR 47 out of committee with individual recommendations. CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, said HJR 47 was so moved. Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIR BUNDE ADJOURNED the meeting at 4:48 p.m.