Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/06/1994 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 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 None 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 CONSENT 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 SHORT TITLE: DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIVES/BD & PRACTICES 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 (DCED) 03/16/94 3239 (S) ZERO FN TO CS PUBLISHED (S.L&C/DCED) 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 CONSENT 03/24/94 3349 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 266(L&C) 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 SHORT TITLE: JUDICIAL REVIEW:TEACHER TENURE DECISIONS 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 new. 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 deduction. 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 testimony. 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 "ridiculous." 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 testimony. 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 termination. 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.