Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/06/1994 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES                         
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                          April 6, 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. Bettye Davis                                                            
  Rep. Irene Nicholia                                                          
  Rep. Tom Brice                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
  SB 160:   "An Act relating to memorial scholarship loans."                   
            HEARD AND HELD                                                     
  SB 266:   "An Act extending the termination date of the                      
            Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives."                         
            HEARD AND HELD                                                     
  HB 521:   "An Act relating to judicial review of decisions                   
            of school boards relating to nonretention or                       
            dismissal of teachers."                                            
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
  TERRY OTNESS, Legislative Aide                                               
  Sen. Robin Taylor                                                            
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  Phone:  (907) 465-3873                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 160                          
  DIANE BARRANS, Director                                                      
  Student Financial Aid Programs                                               
  Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education                                 
  3030 Vintage Boulevard                                                       
  Juneau, Alaska  99801-7109                                                   
  Phone:  (907) 465-6740                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 488.                           
  ANNETTE KREITZER, Legislative Aide                                           
  Sen. Loren Leman                                                             
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  Phone:  (907) 465-2095                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 266                          
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
  BILL:  SB 160                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP LOANS                                      
  SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) TAYLOR BY REQUEST                                     
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  03/12/93       769    (S)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  03/12/93       769    (S)   HES, FINANCE                                     
  03/31/93              (S)   HES AT 01:45 PM BUTROVICH                        
                              ROOM 205                                         
  03/31/93              (S)   MINUTE(HES)                                      
  04/01/93      1025    (S)   HES RPT  7DP                                     
  04/01/93      1025    (S)   ZERO FISCAL NOTES (DOE, DPS)                     
  01/24/94      2581    (S)   FIN RPT  5DP                                     
  01/24/94      2581    (S)   UPDATED ZERO FNS PUBLISHED                       
                              (DOE, DPS)                                       
  01/24/94              (S)   FIN AT 09:00 AM SENATE FINANCE                   
                              ROOM 518                                         
  01/24/94              (S)   MINUTE(FIN)                                      
  01/26/94              (S)   RLS AT 11:30 AM FAHRENKAMP                       
                              ROOM 203                                         
  01/26/94              (S)   MINUTE(RLS)                                      
  02/15/94      2860    (S)   RULES TO CALENDAR  2/15                          
  02/15/94      2860    (S)   READ THE SECOND TIME                             
  02/15/94      2860    (S)   ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN                   
  02/15/94      2860    (S)   READ THE THIRD TIME  SB 160                      
  02/15/94      2861    (S)   PASSED Y19 N- A1                                 
  02/15/94      2864    (S)   TRANSMITTED TO (H)                               
  02/16/94      2412    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  02/16/94      2412    (H)   HES, FINANCE                                     
  04/06/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
  BILL:  SB 266                                                                
  SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) LEMAN                                                 
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/28/94      2615    (S)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/28/94      2615    (S)   LABOR & COMMERCE, FINANCE                        
  02/24/94              (S)   L&C AT 01:30 PM FAHRENKAMP                       
                              ROOM 203                                         
  03/15/94              (S)   L&C AT 01:30 PM FAHRENKAMP                       
                              ROOM 203                                         
  03/16/94      3239    (S)   L&C RPT  CS  4DP NEW TITLE                       
  03/16/94      3239    (S)   FISCAL NOTE TO SB PUBLISHED                      
  03/16/94      3239    (S)   ZERO FN TO CS PUBLISHED                          
  03/16/94      3250    (S)   FIN REFERRAL WAIVED                              
  03/21/94              (S)   RLS AT 00:00 AM FAHRENKAMP                       
                              ROOM 203                                         
  03/21/94              (S)   MINUTE(RLS)                                      
  03/24/94      3344    (S)   RULES TO CALENDAR  3/24/94                       
  03/24/94      3349    (S)   READ THE SECOND TIME                             
  03/24/94      3349    (S)   L&C  CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                     
  03/24/94      3349    (S)   ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN                   
  03/24/94      3349    (S)   READ THE THIRD TIME  CSSB
  03/24/94      3349    (S)   PASSED Y16 N- E1 A3                              
  03/24/94      3353    (S)   TRANSMITTED TO (H)                               
  03/25/94      2959    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  03/25/94      2959    (H)   HES                                              
  04/06/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
  BILL:  HB 521                                                                
  SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS                                                    
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  03/09/94      2683    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  03/09/94      2683    (H)   HES, JUDICIARY                                   
  03/22/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
  03/22/94              (H)   MINUTE(HES)                                      
  03/30/94              (H)   HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106                      
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 94-64, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY called the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m., noted                 
  members present and announced the calendar.  She brought SB
  160 to the table.                                                            
  SB 160 - MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP LOANS                                          
  TERRY OTNESS, Legislative Aide to Sen. Robin Taylor, Prime                   
  Sponsor of SB 160, stated that legislation would modify                      
  eligibility requirements for the Alaska State Trooper's                      
  Michael Murphy Scholarship to include certificate programs.                  
  He said the scholarship revolving loan fund established by                   
  the legislature includes a provision allowing the                            
  forgiveness of one-fifth of the loan indebtedness for each                   
  one year period of full time employment in law enforcement                   
  in Alaska. Department of Labor statistics show that 63% of                   
  Sitka program graduates are currently employed in the state                  
  as law enforcement personnel.                                                
  MR. OTNESS further stated that SB 160 has a zero fiscal note                 
  and received unanimous support in the Senate.  He asserted                   
  that the bill would encourage Alaska students to seek                        
  employment in Alaska.  He urged support of the legislation.                  
  Number 100                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE referred to the forgiveness program and the zero                  
  fiscal note and asked if there could be forgiveness and a                    
  zero fiscal note.                                                            
  Number 105                                                                   
  MR. OTNESS said it did not sound logical to him and he did                   
  not understand the discrepancy.                                              
  Number 117                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS indicated that zero fiscal notes are put forth                 
  when there is no impact other than what has been funded in                   
  the past.  He said the legislation is not asking for                         
  additional funding.                                                          
  REP. BUNDE said that was not his understanding.                              
  Number 149                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked if the memorial scholarship program is                    
  REP. G. DAVIS said it is not a new program and it has been                   
  funded in the past.                                                          
  REP. OLBERG referred to the position paper from the                          
  Department of Public Safety and indicated that the Michael                   
  Murphy Scholarship is supported entirely by state employees                  
  donating a day or more of annual leave per year to the fund.                 
  MR. OTNESS added that private donations are also given.                      
  Number 181                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE said his comments do not indicate that he is                      
  opposed to the scholarship.                                                  
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked for further testimony.                                    
  Number 185                                                                   
  DIANE BARRANS, Director, Student Financial Aid Programs,                     
  Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, testified in                   
  support of SB 160.  She stated that the scholarship program                  
  is primarily funded by donations from state troopers, which                  
  explains the zero fiscal note.  She indicated that there is                  
  a set amount of money that is made available to students                     
  each year.  She said the bill would expand the eligibility                   
  pool to include the certificated students at the police                      
  academy in Sitka.                                                            
  Number 226                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS asked Ms. Barrans if there has been any                        
  problems expending the money and indicated that the academy                  
  is not a degree program.                                                     
  MS. BARRANS said it is not a degree program.  She indicated                  
  that there are currently 30 borrowers in the history of the                  
  program.  She explained that there are up to four new                        
  scholarship loans per year.                                                  
  REP. BUNDE asked if the scholarship would be limited to the                  
  Sitka program only.                                                          
  MS. BARRANS said the legislation would include Sitka.                        
  REP. BUNDE explained that he is a member of the                              
  Postsecondary Education Commission and indicated that an                     
  appeal was put forth on a student loan by a police officer                   
  in Juneau.  Rep. Bunde said the officer was in a certificate                 
  program in another state and was unable to get the student                   
  loan.  He felt the legislation would address that situation.                 
  Number 278                                                                   
  (Chair Toohey indicated that Reps. B. Davis, Kott, and Brice                 
  arrived at 3:10 p.m.)                                                        
  REP. VEZEY asked if the loan fund is capitalized by the                      
  Department of Public Safety.                                                 
  Number 280                                                                   
  MS. BARRANS replied that it can be funded by any state                       
  employee.  She indicated that the Department of Public                       
  Safety tends to donate most often.                                           
  REP. VEZEY asked if the scholarship program is funded by the                 
  Department of Administration (DOA).                                          
  MS. BARRANS explained that the DOA is the mechanism through                  
  which the leave time becomes dollars.  She said by donating                  
  leave, money goes into the scholarship loan fund.                            
  Number 313                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY said if the program is really funded through the                  
  DOA, leave time cannot be converted into dollars, citing                     
  that either employees use leave time or lose it.                             
  MS. BARRANS said to her knowledge leave time can be cashed                   
  in depending on how much leave time has been accrued.  She                   
  explained that if a person has six weeks of leave, they are                  
  allowed to cash in a certain amount of days of leave time                    
  per year and receive it in a check.                                          
  REP. VEZEY said he thought leave time could only be cashed                   
  in when an employee leaves their job.                                        
  MS. BARRANS said his interpretation was correct also.                        
  REP. VEZEY asked if donating a day of leave time actually                    
  means the employee worked a day and did not get paid.                        
  MS. BARRANS said that was possible.                                          
  REP. VEZEY asked what other possibilities there were to                      
  donate a day of leave time.  He asserted that the employees                  
  work but donate their leave.                                                 
  MS. BARRANS said, "Or they would not have that leave                         
  available to cash out when they either separate from the                     
  state or choose to cash in leave."                                           
  REP. VEZEY asked how an employee would be entitled to a tax                  
  MS. BARRANS said she was unsure.                                             
  REP. BRICE indicated that staff can and legislators cannot                   
  donate leave time.                                                           
  Number 386                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY said she also would like that answer and                        
  indicated that she wanted to hold the bill.                                  
  REP. BRICE maintained that the bill is one of the most                       
  uncomplicated bills that has come through the committee.  He                 
  said all the bill does is include certificated programs.  He                 
  indicated that the program is a very well established                        
  funding mechanism that the state has been using for years.                   
  He said, "It would be like me taking a day's salary and                      
  writing the check for it and passing it out."  He encouraged                 
  the committee to pass the bill out.                                          
  Number 432                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY disagreed and said the employee never received                    
  the money.  He said that they are getting a tax deductible                   
  contribution for donation of their time which clearly, under                 
  IRS regulations, is not tax deductible.  He further                          
  explained that he would like an answer before passing the                    
  bill out of committee.                                                       
  REP. B. DAVIS asked where in the bill it states that the                     
  leave time donation is tax deductible.                                       
  REP. OLBERG indicated that the a document in the bill packet                 
  titled "Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Loan Fund"                       
  addresses the concern.                                                       
  REP. BRICE said, "It might be to write off the forgiveness.                  
  I don't know."                                                               
  Number 490                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY said he believed the DOA is not mandated to pay                   
  employees for unused leave.  He felt there was flexibility                   
  for the DOA.  He asked for clarification.                                    
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked Rep. Vezey if he would like to work with                  
  the committee aide in a subcommittee to address the problem.                 
  REP. OLBERG commended Chair Toohey's recommendation of a                     
  subcommittee comprised of one staff member and one committee                 
  member, citing the excellent use of time and energy.                         
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked for further testimony.  There was none.                   
  REP. BRICE made a motion to pass SB 160 out of committee                     
  with individual recommendations.                                             
  CHAIR TOOHEY indicated that it was her intent to hear                        
  further testimony and table the bill until the                               
  aforementioned concerns have been addressed.                                 
  Number 547                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked the origin of the document titled                        
  "Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Loan Fund."                             
  MR. OTNESS said he was unsure and would check into it.                       
  REP. B. DAVIS indicated that the document says that the                      
  statement "may" be used for income tax purposes.  She                        
  asserted that there is a difference between shall and may.                   
  She further indicated that there are some donations that are                 
  tax deductible and some that are not.  She felt that Rep.                    
  Vezey's concerns were irrelevant to the bill.                                
  CHAIR TOOHEY said Rep. Vezey's concerns would be addressed                   
  at a later date.  She then brought SB 266 to the table.                      
  SB 266 - DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIVES/BOARD & PRACTICES                             
  CHAIR TOOHEY said it was her intent to hear testimony, but                   
  she did not want to pass the bill out that day.                              
  Number 600                                                                   
  ANNETTE KREITZER, Legislative Aide to Sen. Loren Leman,                      
  Prime Sponsor of SB 266, stated that the bill was amended in                 
  the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and the title only                   
  extends the termination date of the Board of Certified                       
  Direct-Entry Midwives.  She said the board would be extended                 
  to June 30, 1998.  She indicated that there was a zero                       
  fiscal note and that there was a recommendation from the                     
  Division of Legislative Audit to continue the board.                         
  Number 613                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked if there were any questions.  Hearing no                  
  questions, she indicated that she would notify Ms. Kreitzer                  
  of when SB 266 would be heard again.  She then brought HB
  521 to the table.                                                            
  HB 521 - JUDICIAL REVIEW:  TEACHER TENURE DECISIONS                          
  REP. G. DAVIS said he would like to hear more history and                    
  testimony on the bill.  He felt that perhaps the bill should                 
  be heard at a later time when there would be witness                         
  REP. OLBERG indicated that he was satisfied with the amount                  
  of testimony heard previously.                                               
  (Chair Toohey took a brief at-ease from 3:24 p.m. to 3:31                    
  p.m.  Note:  Chair Toohey passed the gavel to Rep. Bunde to                  
  preside over the remainder of the meeting.)                                  
  Number 679                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE reminded the committee that HB 521 was before                    
  the committee.  He indicated that there was no public                        
  testimony and asked the pleasure of the committee.                           
  REP. TOOHEY made a motion to pass HB 521 out of committee                    
  with individual recommendations.                                             
  CHAIR. BUNDE objected for discussion purposes.                               
  REP. KOTT asked if Chair Bunde would speak to his objection.                 
  CHAIR BUNDE felt that the present system is adequate.  He                    
  explained that if a teacher is denied tenure they can ask                    
  for an administrative hearing.  At the hearing, the school                   
  district brings their charges, the teachers bring their                      
  defense, and if the teacher does not prevail, they can                       
  request a trial.  He asserted that court trials are                          
  expensive and the school district does not always prevail.                   
  He further explained that the districts are opposed to                       
  spending approximately $50,000 in legal fees and to being                    
  restricted to using the same information as heard in the                     
  administrative hearing.  He observed that the teacher would                  
  be able to have one defense, see the weaknesses in the bill                  
  of particulars, and then have a second defense.  He                          
  indicated that the legislation is supported by the                           
  Association of School Administrators and the Association of                  
  School Boards.  He felt that the statute is not used very                    
  often and cited that two districts testified that they each                  
  had one in the past year.                                                    
  REP. BUNDE further explained that a school district had                      
  spent $60,000 in court, lost, and planned to appeal.  He                     
  contended that if the tenure review process had been handled                 
  correctly, the case should never have gone to court.  He                     
  encouraged other members to offer their views.                               
  REP. OLBERG listed a number of figures that reflected the                    
  cost of de novo trials.  He said the North Slope Borough                     
  School spent $126,000 on a de novo trial, and another case                   
  which involved preparation for trial and settlement                          
  negotiations cost $29,000.  He indicated that $59,500 was                    
  finally paid in a settlement.  He further indicated that                     
  Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, in one case,                   
  has spent a total of $82,920, and in another scheduled for                   
  trial in Superior Court the total cost to date is $112,930.                  
  The Sitka School District spent $50,836 on a de novo trial                   
  and appealed at the cost of $24,067.  He asserted that                       
  automatically granting a new trial to a non-tenured teacher                  
  is "over-kill" on behalf of the teacher.  Rep. Olberg                        
  acknowledged the difficulties involved in terminating a                      
  tenured teacher.  He further stated that the provisions that                 
  allow teachers to use all of the school board's information                  
  at trial while the board is denied the same usage is                         
  Number 804                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE attempted to correct Rep. Olberg by saying that                  
  the bill addresses tenured teachers only.  He then said it                   
  was his understanding that the aforementioned examples                       
  pertained to non-tenured teachers.                                           
  REP. OLBERG clarified that he was referring to tenured                       
  teachers and maintained that the examples refer specifically                 
  to tenured teachers.                                                         
  REP. G. DAVIS asserted that non-tenured teachers currently                   
  have no protection.                                                          
  CHAIR BUNDE indicated that he misunderstood some of the                      
  REP. OLBERG explained that a non-tenured teacher can also                    
  sue the school district.                                                     
  CHAIR BUNDE acknowledged that there are procedures a school                  
  board must follow to fire a tenured or non-tenured teacher.                  
  He reiterated that the de novo trial procedure only pertains                 
  to tenured teachers.  He further indicated that only a few                   
  examples had been mentioned from certain school districts                    
  and there were more cases across the state.                                  
  Number 836                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS clarified the thrust of the legislation by                     
  describing a scenario where a tenured teacher is found to be                 
  acting nonprofessionally, which by law is grounds for                        
  CHAIR BUNDE interjected that there are four specific grounds                 
  for termination:  gross insubordination, incompetence, moral                 
  turpitude, and financial emergency.                                          
  REP. G. DAVIS indicated that sleeping in class would be                      
  incompetence.  He further related that the teacher files a                   
  grievance and has his case heard before the school board.                    
  The teacher hires an attorney, as does the school board, and                 
  they undergo a process very similar to a court trial.  He                    
  then asked Chair Bunde if the entire school board is part of                 
  the hearing and perhaps public participants.                                 
  CHAIR BUNDE said it was his understanding that only the                      
  school board participates.                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS continued with his scenario by saying that the                 
  school board upholds the decision of their administrators.                   
  He pointed out that the need for de novo trial stems from                    
  that juncture as the board will support the acts of their                    
  administrators a majority of the time.  He further explained                 
  that the teacher would be granted a de novo trial in a                       
  Superior Court if requested.  He then indicated that the                     
  school board is charged with defending themselves at an                      
  additional cost level at a court trial.  He asserted that HB
  521 would deny the automatic right for all teachers to go to                 
  a de novo trial, but would not preclude a civil proceeding.                  
  He asked if other members had any details to add or                          
  corrections to make to his scenario.                                         
  Number 911                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY concurred.  She further indicated that the money                 
  saved by not going into de novo trials could be put back                     
  into the schools.  She declared her support of the bill.                     
  CHAIR BUNDE indicated that the money saved would go back to                  
  administration and not to the classroom.                                     
  Number 915                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY said, to his understanding, the bill does apply                   
  to non-tenured teachers and it also specifies that they                      
  would not have the right to appeal an administrative                         
  decision to the Superior Court.  He felt the intent of the                   
  bill is common sense thinking.  He then pointed out that                     
  under current law, if a teacher decides to appeal to the                     
  court, all the previous testimony is "wiped out," and with                   
  the de novo trial evidence and testimony is new.  School                     
  districts would have to bring prior witnesses back to the                    
  location of the trial from outside the state, if need be,                    
  and depositions would have to be taken over again.  He                       
  asserted that much redundant legal work is done.  The                        
  legislation would reduce the amount of money that has to be                  
  spent preparing for trial.  He said it did not eliminate the                 
  right of an individual to an appeal trial.  The legislation                  
  provides that the school board would not have to rebuild the                 
  case "from scratch."  He further indicated that he knew of                   
  no other system that automatically grants a de novo trial.                   
  Number 995                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE summarized by saying that in any legal                           
  proceeding there is always the right to appeal.  He                          
  explained that the teacher is fired by a superintendent, and                 
  the school board, in almost every situation, must support                    
  the decision of their administrator.  He said, "You really                   
  don't have the right of appeal at the school board level as                  
  cleanly as you might have in other situations where the                      
  board of directors is a little more removed, the school                      
  board is a little more removed from the administration.  So,                 
  instead of a right of appeal, internally it really doesn't                   
  exist until you've got a case or the school board, school                    
  district, doesn't have a case, you go to the courts."  He                    
  indicated that teachers could still go through the courts in                 
  a civil suit.  He felt that the de novo trial offers more                    
  protection to the teacher and exerts more pressure on the                    
  school district.  He felt the legislation was strictly a                     
  cost saving measure.                                                         
  Number 050                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY stated that as a nurse she would not have the                    
  option to spend $80,000 of a hospital's money to bring a                     
  case to Superior Court.                                                      
  CHAIR BUNDE interjected and said Rep. Toohey would be able                   
  to go into civil proceedings.                                                
  REP. TOOHEY concurred.                                                       
  Number 071                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE said the issue is not the suit, it is whether it                 
  is de novo trial or not.  He asked if the bill was going to                  
  House State Affairs.  He was informed that the bill would                    
  continue on to House Judiciary.  He asked for further                        
  discussion.  Hearing none, he then indicated that there had                  
  been a motion and an objection and called for the vote to                    
  pass HB 521 out of committee.  Reps. Toohey, G. Davis,                       
  Vezey, Kott, Olberg, and Nicholia voted Yea and Chair Bunde                  
  voted Nay.  Chair Bunde announced that HB 521 was so moved.                  
  Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIR BUNDE                 
  adjourned the meeting at 3:45 p.m.                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects