Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/13/1996 03:07 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 13, 1996 3:07 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Cynthia Toohey, Co-Chair Representative Con Bunde, Co-Chair Representative Gary Davis Representative Norman Rokeberg Representative Caren Robinson Representative Tom Brice Representative Al Vezey MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 371 "An Act relating to the rights of terminally ill persons." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 465 "An Act relating to employment of teachers and school administrators and to public school collective bargaining." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 373 "An Act relating to educational benefits for family members of deceased members of the armed services." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 371 SHORT TITLE: RIGHTS OF TERMINALLY ILL PERSONS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BROWN,TOOHEY,Finkelstein,Davies JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 12/29/95 2363 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/08/96 2363 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/08/96 2363 (H) HES, STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 02/06/96 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 02/06/96 (H) MINUTES 02/13/96 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 BILL: HB 465 SHORT TITLE: TEACHER EMPLOYMENT/PUB SCHL BARGAINING SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) IVAN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/02/96 2606 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/02/96 2606 (H) HEALTH,EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES 02/13/96 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 WITNESS REGISTER JAMES O. BURRIS 115 Granite Creek Road Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-8167 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 TERI LUNDY 1311 Sawmill Creek Road Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-8138 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 371 CLOTHILDE BAHOVEC 627 DeGroff Street Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-8185 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 BRUCE GORDON P.O. Box 80046 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Telephone: (907) 479-6988 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 CHUCK BOOTH P.O. Box 102 Seward, Alaska 99664 Telephone: (907) 224-5751 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 BEVERLY DUNHAM P.O. Box 27 Seward, Alaska 99664 Telephone: (907) 224-5623 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 APRIL WOLFE P.O. Box 7202 Bethel, Alaska 99559 Telephone: (907) 479-6988 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 ELAINE ROSE Box 384 Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-8915 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 MARY SOLTIS 405 Verstovia Street Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-5624 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 HELEN CRAIG 613 DeGroff Street Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-5917 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 RON SHEEHAN P.O. Box 521747 Big Lake, Alaska 99652 Telephone: (907) 892-8994 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 VESTA LEIGH P.O. Box 905 Kenai, Alaska 99611 Telephone: (907) 283-4518 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 LORI BROWN P.O. Box 3943 Soldotna, Alaska 99669 Telephone: (907) 262-2398 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 371 SUE KELLY P.O. Box 3564 Soldotna, Alaska 99669 Telephone: (907) 262-6587 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 ELEANOR VIERECK 1707 Red Fox Drive Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Telephone: (907) 479-2879 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 FATHER MICHAEL KANIECKI 1316 Peger Road Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Telephone: (907) 474-9540 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 JOHN COGHILL, JR. P.O. Box 58003 Fairbanks, Alaska 99711 Telephone: (907) 488-7886 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 DEBORAH VAN VELDHUIZEN P.O. Box 82593 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Telephone: (907) 479-8449 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 SANDI DOYLE P.O. Box 81183 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Telephone: (907) 479-9751 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 DR. FREDERICK HILLMAN 1685 Stanton Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 562-7161 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 PEGGY BURGIN 1530 West 11th Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 278-2102 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 SHIRLEEN RANNALS 1751 Westview Circle Anchorage, Alaska 99504 Telephone: (907) 333-9425 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 ANITA SYREN 7027 Lake Otis Parkway Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Telephone: (907) 349-5966 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 BERT SHAW 332 Shaw Circle Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 337-3807 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 WILLIE LOGAN 4130 Endeavor Circle Anchorage, Alaska 99515 Telephone: (907) 349-7446 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 371 THERESE SYREN 7027 Lake Otis Parkway Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Telephone: (907) 349-5966 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 PATRICIA SENNE, Executive Director Alaska Nurses Association 237 East Third, No. 3 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 274-0827 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 CORALYN OINES 2414 Halibut Point Road Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 747-6732 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 JOLEE CARNEY 1412 Kinnikinnick, No. A Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 277-2479 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 371 JACK MCGEE, Attorney 445 Nelson Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-2548 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 371 TOM WRIGHT, Legislative Aide Representative Ivan Ivan Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 503 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-4942 POSITION STATEMENT: Gave sponsor statement for HB 465 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 503 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-4942 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime sponsor of HB 465 TOM RICHARDS 580 Steele Creek Road Fairbanks, Alaska 99712 Telephone: (907) 457-8052 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 VINCE SPERANGE 2801 West International Anchorage, Alaska 99502 Telephone: (907) 243-3108 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 BILL MUNROE, President Classified Employees Association Mat-Su Borough School District 2950 Marianns Place Wasilla, Alaska 99654 Telephone: (907) 376-4269 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 DAVE PARSONS P.O. Box 80467 Fairbanks, alaska 99708 Telephone: (907) 456-5671 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 LELA AYRES, Teacher 523 Quicksilver Circle Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-0103 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 LUCY HOPE P.O. Box 870887 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 Telephone: (907) 376-4796 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 GAYLE PIERCE 2310 Patterson Lane Fairbanks, Alaska 99711 Telephone: (907) 488-2199 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 RICHARD I. MAUER, Member Delta-Greely School District P.O. Box 1302 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737 Telephone: (907) 895-4956 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 DEB GERMANO, Member Kenai Peninsula School Board P.O. Box 1511 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-2538 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 MARILYN LEEHY, President Valdez School Board Box 689 Valdez, alaska 99686 Telephone: (907) 835-7801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant Office of the Commissioner 801 West 10th Street, Suite 200 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2803 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 CARL ROSE, Executive Director Association of Alaska School Boards 316 W. 11th Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 789-7930 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director Alaska Council of School Administrators 364 4th Street, Suite 404 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-9702 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 465 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-10, SIDE A Number 001 The House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee was called to order by Co-Chair Toohey at 3:07 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Davis, Rokeberg, Robinson, Brice and Toohey. Representatives absent were Bunde and Vezey. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY announced the calendar for the meeting was HB 371, Rights of the Terminally Ill and HB 465 Teachers Employment Public School Bargaining. She opened public testimony at the Sitka teleconference site. HB 371 - RIGHTS OF TERMINALLY ILL PERSONS Number 196 JAMES O. BURRIS testified via teleconference from Sitka that he wanted to lend his complete support to the provisions of this legislation. He felt this was a bill that should be passed so people who are terminally ill can die with the degree of dignity they are entitled to. Terminally ill people should not be subjected to weeks and months of medication and pain. Number 274 TERI LUNDY testified via teleconference from Sitka. She began her testimony by asking what the DNR identification is and if it was going to become a mandatory form that needed to be filled out and signed when being registered into a pioneer's home or a hospital before major surgery? She asked if the living will is a mandatory document at this time? What is the medication or medications that will be used by the physician for the physician assisted suicide? She referred to Section 2, AS 18.20.005 (a) "The legislature finds that the people of the state have a fundamental right to make their own end-of-life decisions. The right should include...." She asked if the other choices were suicide by hanging, suicide using a firearm, suicide by cutting one's wrists. She said the proper term for "dignified" is euthanasia. Regarding Section 3 (a) (1) - (4), she expressed concern that there is an option for the requester not to notify the next of kin of their decision or they may not have any next of kin to notify. She questioned who these people are that are given the authority to witness and sign the Request for Medication, but are not required to give their residence address. She referenced page 3, line 18, and asked why an individual had to be over 18 years of age to complete the Request for Medication. Additionally, line 29 pushes responsibility on the physician to write the prescription thereby becoming the messenger of death. She asked what the meaning was regarding the language on page 4, line 13. She inquired as to the types of identification that would be required for the witnesses. In conclusion, Ms. Lundy said she was not pleased with the drafting of HB 371 or its presentation to the public. Number 580 CLOTHILDE BAHOVEC testified from Sitka via teleconference that the time for people to die with dignity has long past; it should have been law years ago. She discussed the high cost of medical care and didn't feel that a terminally ill person should be forced to have medication and life-support equipment to keep them alive. She believes the decision to end your life should be a private matter between the physician and the patient. She concluded that inasmuch as this is a voluntary decision, she doesn't understand why people should be upset about it. Number 654 BRUCE GORDON testified from Fairbanks urging the committee's support of HB 371. His wife died about 1 l/2 years ago after suffering over 15 years from Parkinson's disease, which is always progressive and at present there is no cure. The symptoms include deterioration of muscle control spreading over the entire body. Her X-rays and biopsy of lung tissue resulted in a diagnosis of lymphoma and in 1991 she experienced a cardiac arrest while in the hospital. When her Parkinson's disease suddenly accelerated in September 1994, she knew the final stage was near. She had signed a living will, durable power of attorney and a Do Not Resuscitate order in 1992, all of which were witnessed by disinterested parties. She hoped for another heart attack that would be the final release to her constant pain. Failing that, she was determined to end her own life while she was still able to do so without any assistance from him so as not to put him at risk for criminal prosecution. She finally found a nonviolent means and died peacefully in her bed, as she had wanted. He commented that he and his wife had been members of groups for several years that supported the right to die with dignity and the freedom to choose the time and the circumstance. House Bill 371 provides this freedom with the necessary and appropriate safeguards. He urged the committee to pass HB 371. Number 773 CHUCK BOOTH testified from Seward in opposition to the legislation. Number 786 BEVERLY DUNHAM testified from Seward that at the age of 12, she watched her father die of cancer. She saw this magnificent 225 pound man turn into nothing but a vegetable who was in great pain and would have done anything to have been alleviated of that pain. She commented that she has asthma and has seriously considered not taking her doctors advice about getting a pneumonia shot because thankfully her father died from pneumonia a few days earlier than he would have otherwise. She has always known that if the time came when one of her loved ones asked for her help in ending their life she would do it regardless if she had to go to prison. She commented that churches and many people don't want laws except when it comes to issues like the right to die or having the choice of what happens to your own body. Her 82-year-old brother has multiple sclerosis and they are both aware of what the future holds for him. She is hopeful that he will be able to die when he gets to that stage. She referenced the Oregon law and said even though it's in court now, it has finally made the medical community realize that it has a responsibility to help people die less painfully. There is an effort among the doctors now to begin medications that really might have some effect. They are trying to counsel patients who are dying and their families. She concluded that she favors HB 371. Number 938 APRIL WOLFE testified from Bethel that she is not supportive of this legislation. She commented that it has taken a friend of hers five years to be properly diagnosed with metal toxicity which is a condition that doesn't just go away, but doctors were able to find a process called chelation that's beginning to draw the poisons out of her body. During this five year period, Ms. Wolfe said she watched her friend's stress and emotional levels go up and down. There were days when her friend was ready to give up and Ms. Wolfe's concern is that with this legislation a person might decide to give it up if the timing is just right. In her friend's case there has been a major break-through in treatment. She believes this bill would destroy hope in terms of medical break throughs. Number 1051 ELAINE ROSE testified from Sitka via teleconference that she is against this bill. She thinks that suicide is suicide, and it doesn't make it right just because the doctors say it's okay. She added neither the legislature nor the federal government has a right to decide on this issue; it's an individual decision. Number 1080 MARY SOLTIS testified from Sitka that pain is controllable with modern medicine. A person who seeks to kill him or herself to avoid pain does not need legalized assisted suicide, but needs a doctor who is better trained in alleviating pain. She asked who would ensure the lethal dose of medication didn't get into the wrong hands. She noted that euthanasia in the Netherlands has been legal for 15 years and voluntary assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness has now spread to include nonvoluntary euthanasia for children born with disabilities. Half of the killings in the Netherlands are now nonvoluntary and the problems for which death is now a legal solution include mental illness, permanent disability and simple old age. Number 1161 HELEN CRAIG testified from Sitka that she supports HB 371 for several reasons. First, she has seen loved ones suffer for many years. She does believe that every possible option should be pursued first, but the terminally ill who are suffering from great pain that is not able to be controlled, should be allowed to go to the Lord. She noted that one of her children was born early and born a vegetable. She and her husband were faced with the difficult decision of allowing their child to suffer, be a vegetable and to have no joy in her life, or letting that child to go to the Lord. She does not believe this is a decision that should be made by everyone, but the person afflicted or the parents of a child whose life will have no meaning or joy should have the right to make this decision. Number 1265 RON SHEEHAN testified via teleconference that he is basically against HB 371 on the assumption that the sanctity of life is being put into some variables. He said this is a bill that, through the euthanasia, could get into patricide. He referred to a survey done in Washington State in 1994 which indicated that physicians who were originally for euthanasia, mainly the ontologists and hematologists who deal with the subject every day, were opposed to it after some long thought. The psychologists and the physicians who are the farthest removed from the problem were for it. He commented that our doctors are almost phobic in their lack of willingness to prescribe adequate amounts of pain medication for the terminally ill. Until they get over that phobia and start administering sufficient pain medication, this is not an appropriate measure. He is concerned over whether this issue is being driven by the insurance companies and their willingness to sacrifice human life to stem the tide of cost (indisc.) life-saving measures of people who are going through their last six months of life, which is when the largest amounts of money are spent in health care. Number 1357 VESTA LEIGH testified from Kenai that she has looked for something like this since she was 30 years of age. She watched her mother die a very slow death and the doctors would administer sufficient medication to ease her pain. She asked why the individuals opposed to this legislation aren't beating the drum to do away with alcohol and tobacco, which kills millions of people every year. She personally believes this bill doesn't go far enough, but it is a good start. Number 1420 LORI BROWN testified via teleconference that she is a pharmacist and understood that HB 371 stated the physician would write a prescription and the pharmacist would fill it. Currently, it is not mandatory for a physician to include a diagnosis, prognosis or history on prescriptions. She feels this information would be vital for pharmacists to conscientiously fill the prescription or to choose not to. Some pharmacists may be completely against aiding to end a patient's life and that option should be available to them. She expressed concern that it is not included in this legislation. She added that without knowing why the prescription was written and what it is being used for, the pharmacists may put themselves in a professional or morally compromising situation, because they are the ones who would ultimately be dispensing the medication. She asked the committee to consider that issue. Number 1470 SUE KELLY testified via teleconference that she is in favor of this legislation. Number 1485 ELEANOR VIERECK testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. She indicated she is speaking for herself, but is also the Fairbanks representative for the Hemlock Society, which is an organization that has the right to die as its mission. She supports HB 371. She remarked that she is also a member of the Christian Ecumenical Peace with Justice Committee in Fairbanks and wanted to speak about non-harming. Non-harming is one of the major ethical tenets of all world religions. She referred to the oath taken by doctors: They do not vow in the hippocratic to refrain from assisting a person who wishes to commit suicide. They do, however, vow non-harming. She referred to a poll conducted by Mark Clements, Inc., of 352 doctors who subscribe to Scientific American Medicine and said the results indicate that 95 percent of these doctors believe a doctor should be able to help a terminally ill patient die by withholding life-support. Only 73 percent of those doctors feel that a doctor should be allowed to help the terminally ill person die with dignity. She pointed out this legislation does not force any doctor who does not comply with this philosophy to do so. Eighty percent of the doctors said there is no conflict about a patient's right to die and the oath taken when they became a doctor. It is her feeling that it is a compassionate, caring and ethical choice to assist a terminally ill person who wants to avoid the legalized torture of a prolonged terminal illness. Number 1595 FATHER MICHAEL KANIECKI testified from Fairbanks that he is totally opposed to HB 371. He feels it is bad public policy and bad morals. He said it seeks to establish a new fundamental right equal to those of the U.S. Constitution; the right of people to make their own end-of-life decisions. He feels that what is being proposed through soft sounding language is that suicide is as basic a right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He thinks much of this comes from the distorted view we have of freedom; the root of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way. While it is true that the taking of life in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ultimately becomes the freedom of the strong against the weak who have no choice but to submit. The freedom of choice as popularly understood today to be freedom from all restriction, has led to the breakdown of family and eroded our bonds of fidelity with each other. We have an obligation to sustain and support members of our family for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Freedom seems to be the battle cry of the proponents for euthanasia or assisted suicide. He knows that all human life is valuable. Medicine should have as its prime goal the easing of pain, not the termination. Father Kaniecki said we're trying to play God. God gives life and only God can take it away. Number 1672 FATHER KANIECKI remarked that in Holland, where euthanasia with safeguards is the accepted practice, some 95 percent of persons in nursing homes expressed a concern for their future. They think they are going to be forced into signing something that will terminate their life. In conclusion, Father Kaniecki said at a time when individual rights are universally acknowledged and upheld, the most fundamental human right, the right to life, is being trampled in the name of personal freedom. Freedom, as granted by God, is not individualistic or absolute. Rather, freedom finds its true expression within the context of the faithfulness of each person to family and community. Authentic freedom recognizes the value of all human life and rejects the current bias in favor of death that runs through society. We affirm that life is a gift from God to be treasured, supported and dealt with compassionately from its very conception until its last breath. Number 1715 JOHN COGHILL, JR., testified from Fairbanks that in listening to the previous testimony, he appreciates the concern for people in our society that are in pain and dying, but he thinks we are going about it the wrong way. The U.S. Constitution and the State Constitution show gratitude to God for the life He has given us. He thinks we're trying to wipe out the tragedy by really pandering to the final excesses of our society, starting with alcohol, tobacco and any other excess that we do as a society that brings us to the place of pain and suffering. And then finally to make it okay, by a stroke of a legislative-policy-making-pen, for people to watch other people take their life in suicide. Our society, just by virtue of the fact that this is bait, is in trouble. Mr. Coghill suggested the committee kill the bill and watch those people who want to take care of their loved ones. No one likes suffering, but it is part of life. Watching people die is one of the most painful experiences of life, but it is also one of the instruments that God has given us to allow the extremes of love this side of eternity. He said we are robbing ourselves of that by allowing the government to okay suicide. He encouraged committee members to not bring the quick fix relief many people are looking for, but allow us to take care of our living and dying with dignity. Number 1826 DEBORAH VAN VELDHUIZEN testified from Fairbanks that she is a citizen and supports this legislation. She said if we do not respect the integrity and dignity of a person in the matter of death, then she questions if people really believe in the integrity and dignity in life; it is just a continuance. She urged the committee to support HB 371. Number 1850 SANDI DOYLE testified via teleconference from Fairbanks that she opposes HB 371 as an act against all human life and the right to life. She said this bill is nothing more than assisted suicide by doctors who take an oath to preserve life. All life is a gift from God. This bill, if passed, would and could lead to the killing of the mentally ill and the physically handicapped. Number 1901 DR. FREDERICK HILLMAN testified from Anchorage that he is a retired physician who practiced in Anchorage from 1958 to 1990. He said in founding this Nation, the founding fathers from the various sects made it clear that the new constitutional nation would be not only nonsectarian, but indeed secular. It debated the matter and in the end, they wrote the Constitution to include neither the word God nor the word Christ. In no sense, can this country be called a Christian one. The ensuing two centuries of religious liberty that we have enjoyed have shown the wisdom of the founding fathers' decision. Now we find that some church leaders are using the religious argument to prevent passage of a law that has nothing to do with religion. House Bill 371 is a bill that does not infringe on the religious rights of anyone. On the other hand, spokespersons for some churches would like to impose their own narrow religious views on everybody. Their religious arguments concerning purely a non-religious bill directly contravenes the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and they mock our 200 year history separation of church and state. House Bill 371 is entirely voluntary and permissive. It allows an individual to escape needless suffering if the person chooses; it does not require action by anyone. It is not about killing, but it is about a person's own personal decision of whether to continue to endure one's own needless suffering. It contains safeguards to prevent such a decision being made in haste, without thought, under pressure or for financial reasons. It concerns a decision that Dr. Hillman may well want to make for himself some day. As a long time church member, he does not attempt to force his religious views on other people and he deeply resents the attempts from other sects to stand in the way of a law that may benefit him. He suggested that the committee strike from the record any testimony against HB 371 that is based on religious argument. Number 2010 PEGGY BURGIN testified from Anchorage that she is a senior citizen and has lived in Alaska for almost 50 years. She has three very personal reasons why she supports this legislation. First, her mother had a stroke which was totally debilitating. She had been an energetic, active person in the community, but when she realized that her quality life was gone she wanted to die. She did not want to be a burden on her family. She ended up in a nursing home for almost three years and finally willed herself to die. Secondly, her husband contracted lung cancer several years ago. He went through an operation, chemotherapy and radiation hoping it would give him some quality of life and a few more years. But the cancer spread and within 2 l/2 years he was dead, but he died in great pain. She has heard there is medication to relieve pain, but he did not receive that help. The last time she saw him in the hospital, they were using a vein in his foot because all his other veins had been used. It was very difficult to watch him die with all the pain and suffering. Her last reason is that she and her sister watched the suffering of their family and made a pact that if at anytime either one of them needed some help, they would try to help the other to alleviate the pain and allow that person to die with dignity. Her sister was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. She sent for Ms. Burgin immediately and reminded her of their agreement and said, "I want you to help me. I don't want to go on like this, I know my time is short, but I don't want to suffer." Ms. Burgin was not able to help her; it was heartbreaking to watch her suffer and to wonder why Ms. Burgin hadn't kept her promise. Number 2137 SHIRLEEN RANNALS testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She said there are two basic views; that God exists and that God doesn't exist. If God exists, then people have certain (indisc.) rights. Americans are very fortunate that our country was founded on the first view; that God exists. Because of this, America is not a secular nation, but an interface nation. This recognition of a Creator has and continues to have, a great impact on our country. We recognize there are limits of what we can do to ourselves or others. We are always in search of what is right in a particular situation. We attempt to know what the Creator wants. We believe there is an objective right or a wrong. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate within the framework of our form of government to consider the morality of the proposed bill. She remarked the question must always be asked of every piece of proposed legislation is it consistent with the recognition that we are the created, not the Creator. If we fail to do this, then we are acting against the nature of our foundation as a nation. We are being un-American. We failed to do this with the issue of slavery and we reaped the tragic results. We failed to do this with the issue of abortion, and we continue to reap the tragic results. We cannot afford to continue in this way. The self-destruction we have incurred is all around us. Our nation is literally falling down around us, but we can turn it around. We must turn again to the tradition of being "One Nation Under God." We must search for what is right and what the Creator wants in every situation. Ms. Rannals maintains that if we examine this bill, we will conclude that it is not what the Creator wants. Our Declaration of Independence states the Creator gives the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness; not the right over life, not the right over liberty or the right over the pursuit of happiness. No one can take his or her own life or that of another. Only the Creator gives and takes away. Number 2243 ANITA SYREN testified via teleconference that she has lived in Alaska for 47 years, most of which have been in Anchorage. She is a widow and the mother of a deceased son. She asked the committee to vote for life and against the legalization of assisted suicide. Her husband died of cancer and her son from lymphoma ten years later. Both of them died at home. She is a nurse and could have administered an overdose under the circumstances, but none of them ever considered bringing about their deaths in this manner. She stated the family supported them through their suffering with the best of care until their natural death. That was truly death with dignity. Her son fought especially hard to beat his cancer. He had a wife and two small children and said over and over that he didn't want to give up. He was aware of the suffering that would come to him because he had witnessed his father's death. Her son courageously rejected two extreme courses of action. On one hand, he refused further treatment that was disproportionate to any expected results. He never considered the other extreme of suicide. Ms. Syren said this issue is unfairly characterized as compassion by those who are obviously misled, but are sincere. She finds this characterization reprehensible. TAPE 96-10, SIDE B Number 017 BERT SHAW testified from Anchorage that he is in favor HB 371. He believes the safeguards are sufficient to avoid abuse. He said when it is his time to go, he is hopeful this is law. His wife died three years ago after a very painful year of cancer. The medical costs were approximately $200,000. The last few weeks she could barely see, could only whisper, couldn't walk or eat and screamed out from the pain many times a day. The last week of her life she was in a coma most of the time. He feels this bill is reasonable and should become law. Number 043 WILLIE LOGAN testified via teleconference from Anchorage in favor of HB 371. Number 071 THERESE SYREN testified from Anchorage via teleconference. She stated that committee members are being urged to accept this bill by individuals who assert that objective moral norms are unattainable, while others of us are arguing that the state cannot choose between different moralities but to simply guarantee maximum freedom for individuals. This argument is in direct contradiction to the Declaration of Independence which states that we are endowed by the Creator of our rights. This is a basic tenet of natural law. The same law absolutely prohibits the wilful taking of innocent human life, whether one's own or another. The abandonment of natural law, again the basis for our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution has already had a disastrous effect on our country. We've lost millions of lives through legalized abortion, hundreds of thousands of lives in the Civil War, not to mention the suffering of slaves. This all comes as a result of the rejection of the natural law. She watched her brother die of cancer three years ago and had once asked him how he coped with the gradual separation from his two small children and wife. He said, "You simply let go." He was referring to the gradual psychological readiness for death that cannot be artificially rushed by suicide. Number 129 PATRICIA SENNE, Executive Director, Alaska Nurses Association, testified from Anchorage. She stated the Alaska Nurses Association is opposed to HB 371. In discussions with Alaska's registered nurses about the issue of assisted suicide, the concern that is raised most frequently is that allowing assisted suicide will open pandora's box. While there may be individual patient cases that are compelling, there is a high potential for abuse with assisted suicide particularly with vulnerable populations such as the elderly, poor and disabled. Number 171 CORALYN OINES testified from Sitka. She is the daughter of a woman diagnosed with senility dementia and the niece of three Alzheimer victims. She acknowledged their lives have caused pressures and difficulties for everyone around them, but their value in the family interaction is precious. She would be distressed to live in a state that would shorten their lives and the obvious progression from willing to unwilling participation. She is strongly opposed to HB 371. Number 220 JOLEE CARNEY testified via teleconference from Anchorage that she is opposed to this bill that basically allows legal suicide. Her concern is that once it starts, we won't be able to stop it. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY closed testimony via teleconference. Number 245 JACK MCGEE testified that he is a practicing attorney and also teaches philosophy at the University of Alaska Southeast. He had a number of difficulties with the bill he wanted to point out for the committee. The first concern was with the burden it puts on physicians. If a physician wanted to execute a request for medication, this legislation requires two doctors to make a determination that the patient has made a competent decision and that the patient's decision was voluntary. How is the physician supposed to make that determination? Competency and voluntariness are legal concepts that involve complex facts. They are not the kind of things that are disclosed by a medical examination. What happens if the physician is wrong? Given the explosive growth of tort litigation, sooner or later a physician is going to be sued on the grounds that he or she made a negligent judgment. He questioned whether it is fair for a physician to have this awesome burden imposed on them by law. Mr. McGee asked the committee to consider this real life situation from a letter to an editor, published in the September 14, 1993, edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat from an 84-year-old woman who had been living with her daughter. He read, "Everything went fine for many years, but when I started to lose my hearing about three years ago, it irritated my daughter. She began to question me about my financial matters and apparently feels I won't have much of an estate for her. She became very rude to me. Then suddenly one evening, my daughter said very cautiously she thought it was okay for older people to commit suicide if they cannot take care of themselves." The woman went on the recount the number of ways in which her daughter reenforced this message. She concluded her letter with, "So, here I sit, day after day, knowing what I am expected to do when I need a little help." Mr. McGee said if an older person under circumstances like these, requests assisted suicide under this bill, could anyone really be comfortable in claiming that this request was voluntary. MR. MCGEE explained that his second major problem with the legislation lies in Section 2 which creates a fundamental right to suicide. He fears this language is going to be used as a vehicle to expand this right in a way beyond the scope of the bill to include all sorts of groups, with all sorts of individual problems. If this right is fundamental, the argument will be that individuals suffering from mental illness or depression, for example, ought to be able to claim this right. In light of the shocking rise of the rates of suicide among senior citizens and teen-agers, particularly now between the ages of 11 and 14, it is difficult for him to see how this fundamental right language serves the public interest. Mr. McGee stated this is a very profound bill and it should be given very careful thought. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY announced that House Bill 371 would be held over until next Tuesday. She turned the gavel over to Co-Chair Bunde for HB 465. HB 465 - TEACHER EMPLOYMENT/PUB SCHL BARGAINING Number 455 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Tom Wright, Legislative Aide to Representative Ivan to present the sponsor statement for HB 465. TOM WRIGHT, Legislative Aide to Representative Ivan Ivan, read the following sponsor statement: Representative Ivan introduced House Bill 465 to allow our school districts a degree of flexibility when dealing with increased costs associated with our educational system. House Bill 465 would allow school districts to lay off teachers who have acquired tenure rights, but only if the school district finds it necessary to reduce the number of teachers due to declining enrollment or declining revenues. Qualifications for rehire purposes are also established in this bill. The bill also increases tenure from two to three years and removes the costly trial de novo portion of our statutes which allows a school district employee who, if not satisfied with a district led investigation, to go to the court system to begin an entirely new trial. The district's investigation, most often, must be recreated. The deletion of the trial de novo provides our educators the same protections as provided to other state employees. New procedures for appealing a decision to dismiss or nonretain a tenured teacher are established in House Bill 465. The record established during the various hearings will be available for use if a suit is filed in superior court. An extensive evaluation system and an improvement of performance plan is included in House Bill 465. The evaluation system can be used for nonretention purposes. Should a tenured or nontenured teacher receive a less than acceptable evaluation, a plan of improvement would be imposed. If, after imposition of the plan of improvement, the teacher receives another less than acceptable evaluation, the teacher is subject to nonretention. Sections 2 and 4 of House Bill 465 apply only to those teachers who are hired after the bill is signed into law. The remaining sections of the bill dealing with loss of tenure rights, evaluations, layoff and rehire and elimination of trial de novo go into effect after the bill is signed and will have an effect on all teachers. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Representative Ivan to join Mr. Wright at the witness table. Number 594 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG asked Representative Ivan if he was planning on or if he would prepare a comparison of the various bills dealing with this issue. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN, Prime sponsor of HB 465, responded that the majority of the elements of HB 217 were incorporated in HB 465. He said they also took into consideration some of the issues brought up by the task force on House Bill 217 and the position statements of the Association of the Alaska School Boards. He believes this is a better bill than the bill he sponsored last year. He views it as a good tool for the various school districts, villages and parents. Number 649 TOM RICHARDS testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He said there are some good items in this bill, but some that he feels totally undermine its effectiveness. He commented on the process and approach that makes teachers feel like they haven't been included in this process. In a comparison of the Governor's bill and Representative Ivan's bill, he thought the peer review had some possibilities, but providing for peer review without any training is not good and undermines the effectiveness of this bill. With regard to observation, he said HB 465 calls for one observation and evaluation of each teacher. There needs to be some multiple approaches to that in order to take a good look at whether the teacher is effective or not. Representative Ivan's bill offers no in-service training and he felt that says something about teachers in general and how the legislature feels about what they do. In fact, he thought the timing of the teleconference sent a message in that the high schools are the only schools out by 3:00 p.m. and the only teachers available to testify. He referred to the reduction in force issue and mentioned that Representative Ivan's bill offers three criteria: 1) during the school year, the district determines there will be a decrease of at least 2 percent per pupil revenue in the next year. He thought the contingency funds could certainly handle a 2 percent dip and the school districts could use that as a punitive measure; 2) school district's revenue has failed to keep pace with inflation over the last five years. He commented that rainy day funds are for situations like this; and 3) school board has determined it is unable to meet its financial obligations. His concern is this could be used to clean house and once that was accomplished, the school board would find additional money. Relating to unacceptable performance, he said Representative Ivan's bill contains a large paragraph concerning only one evaluation, one observation and a one-year plan of improvement. He asked the committee to consider William Demming's approach to management and quality control. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that Mr. Demming's approach is for everyone to be happy in a win/win situation. CO-CHAIR BUNDE added that as a former teacher, he shared some of Mr. Richard's frustration about teacher involvement. However, Co- Chair Bunde has been involved with this issue over the last two years and has begged the teachers in his district to get involved and quite frankly, the teachers that have tenure are not very concerned and have been ignoring the issue. It is not the committee's intent to ignore teacher participation, but it was vastly limited the last time this issue came before the legislature. MR. RICHARDS volunteered his telephone number and said if the committee at any time has any questions concerning secondary education, he would be happy to respond. Number 861 VINCE SPERANGE testified from Anchorage that he wanted to address the aspect of Representative Ivan's bill that calls for the ability to terminate a tenured teacher. Under current law, there are three criteria, one of which is incompetence which is defined as the inability to perform a teacher's customary duties. He thinks that an ill-considered change in the bill is the substitute that states that failure to receive an evaluation that is acceptable after an imposition of a plan of improvement would be grounds for termination. His concern is the plan of improvement and the aspects of the criteria are not defined. So a plan of improvement could be drafted because of a teacher's win/lose record as a coach, or because they are not volunteering enough after the work day. Effectively, it would allow a person's career to be ended based on a plan of improvement which the teacher had no input or is not necessarily related to their performance as a teacher. He stressed this is a serious consideration; this is a person who has chosen a career path in which they've invested tens of thousands of dollars to achieve and must maintain a certificate to continue in that career, yet this would allow a relatively arbitrary criteria to be the factor determining their loss of a job. He supports the Governor's compromise bill and believes it to be a good alternative that should be considered. BILL MUNROE, President, Classified Employees Association, Mat-Su Borough School District, testified via teleconference. He expressed his opposition to various parts of this bill. On page 2, line 28, Section 3 (c), he said there will be a cost associated and it appeared to him to be an unfunded mandate. He asked what the financial impact would be on a district of having to train people to evaluate employees. As the local association president, he has had opportunity to watch people go through plans of improvement for various reasons. Some times the reasons for a plan of improvement are legitimate employer concerns, but sometimes not. There are times when it is used as a tool to improve an employee's performance and sometimes not. He has seen evaluations that have been abused or ignored. To say that a teacher can be terminated because they fail to meet a plan of improvement with no other recourse, is probably giving too much power to an administrator with that particular tool. In his view, the plan of improvement should be used particularly to improve an employee's performance. Sometimes that is not possible, but there are ways of dealing with tenured teachers, and those ways have worked when management exercised its right to evaluate employees fairly. Number 1090 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Mr. Munroe had a position on the part of the bill that would involve an evaluation of administrators. MR. MUNROE said there exists ample opportunity for administration evaluation. In his school district, they have what is called (indisc.) and various other standardized policy procedures instituted by the school board that allow for evaluation of any employee whether it be the superintendent or the custodian. He felt there was a viable working process in place that addressed those concerns. MR. WRIGHT referenced Mr. Munroe's question regarding the costs involved for the evaluation system and said there would be costs involved in training someone to use the evaluation system no matter what evaluation system is used, whether it's in HB 398, HB 217 or HB 465. He added they have not tried to figure out what the cost would be for these systems; that's something the local school district would undertake. CO-CHAIR BUNDE questioned if there was a fiscal note reflecting those costs. MR. WRIGHT responded not for the local school districts. The attached fiscal note is from the Department of Education who has stated there would be no fiscal impact of the department. This impact would be undertaken by each school district. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the unfunded mandate then has some validity, but that would be a cost the district would have to address in their budget. MR. WRIGHT replied that if the evaluations suggested by the task force or in any other legislation were going to be imposed, he didn't think there was a way to avoid unfunded mandates in any relationship between the state and districts or local government. Number 1206 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY said it was his understanding that we're trying to change from the current mediation/litigation procedure that has a different cost to each school district to the evaluation process which would be no more expensive, and hopefully less expensive, than the current process. MR. WRIGHT said it is also their hope to improve the quality of education. He pointed out there are excellent teachers throughout the system and children are receiving a good education, but there are some teachers who are not up to standard with other teachers. The approach under this bill would be to do the evaluation, go to the plan of improvement and reevaluate again. The goal is to improve the quality of education anyway we can. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if the intent was the evaluation system would be no more expensive or perhaps cheaper than the current system of arbitration and litigation. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he believed that costs would still be incurred in staff management in various districts. House Bill 465 is trying to improve performance of teachers. It is his understanding there are costs incurred with cases that are currently in the courts. This legislation addresses the trial de novo portion of the statute. Number 1362 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked Representative Ivan if he could briefly explain the system proposed under HB 465 versus the current system for nonretaining a teacher. What are the steps leading to trial de novo? MR. WRIGHT said the steps being proposed under HB 465 in place of the trial de novo are for dismissal: (1) a pre-termination hearing; (2) school board for a decision; (3) arbitration; and (4) superior court. For nonretention, the pre-termination hearing is the school board hearing, then arbitration and superior court on appeal. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE verified that it's pre-termination, school board, arbitration and then superior court. He asked what the current process is. MR. WRIGHT replied he wasn't certain if there was a pre-termination hearing, but there's a hearing at the school board level, then it can go to superior court. But the problem with going to superior court under the current system is a whole new record can be established. The record established at the school board hearing is not valid in superior court. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked which record under HB 465 would be established at the superior court - the pre-termination, school board or the arbitration? MR. WRIGHT replied the record would begin with the first hearing and be carried through the process. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE clarified that new information could be opened up at each of the three levels and at no point during the three step process would the findings be shut off. MR. WRIGHT responded that was his understanding. He added there can be new findings, but the record that is established at the first hearing follows through the process. There is, however, nothing to preclude someone from coming through with new findings. Number 1526 DAVE PARSONS testified from Fairbanks in opposition to HB 465 because he feels it has some problems. The evaluation process raises a red flag with him. The evaluation is a relatively simple process in his job as custodian because a person can come in after he's done and tell whether or not he's done a good job. He added that basically any person off the street could come in and do an evaluation. However, when it involves teachers, the process gets a bit more complicated. First, a person can begin to wonder what the motivations are for an evaluation; for example, if a school district is having a problem meeting its financial obligations, there could be an attempt to get rid of teachers that the district wouldn't have been able to get rid of otherwise with these so- called plans of improvement, which may or may not be realistic. CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that Representative Gail Phillips, Speaker of the House, had joined the meeting. Speaking for the school board in Anchorage, Co-Chair Bunde said they were highly motivated and jealously guard their powers and he doubted if they would accept anyone off the street to make any decisions for them. Number 1692 LELA AYRES testified from Anchorage that she is a third grade teacher and one of her concerns is the plan of improvement. She was part of the Mat-Su committee that developed an evaluation process for the district. The committee consisting of central office administrators, principals from every level and teachers, worked for over two years to refine the evaluation process they are now working with. A plan of improvement was one part of that process; it was a tool to be used when the principal saw the need. She feels HB 465 reduces the plan of improvement to a weapon that principals might be reluctant to use. It is too open-ended and ill-defined. She urged the committee to support the Governor's compromise bill. There was time and effort spent by all aspects of the community to develop that bill and it addresses everything that is of concern to the committee. CO-CHAIR BUNDE observed that unfortunately the Governor's compromise bill did not involve all aspects of the community. He didn't believe it involved any legislators and that might have been a useful inclusion. Number 1770 LUCY HOPE testified from Anchorage that she is concerned with the provisions of HB 465 regarding the imposition of a plan of improvement. She said when we, as teachers, develop an individual education plan or an individual discipline plan for a student, the student or the parents of the student are always involved in the process. In fact, the law requires they be involved in the development process. It seems that teachers who are in need of an individualized plan of improvement need to have involvement in that process and in evaluating their progress. Plans of improvement need to be stated in measurable terms and require ongoing monitoring. There are no provisions for any of those in this bill. It is her feeling that a teacher could fail to meet a plan of improvement because the plan is too vague, the time limits were not specified or the goals could be impossible to achieve. If plans of improvement are to be part of the law, it seems that the concerns also need to be addressed just as they are for the student plans that are currently in the law. CO-CHAIR BUNDE advised Ms. Hope that her concerns had been noted by Representative Ivan's staff. Number 1872 GAYLE PIERCE testified from Fairbanks regarding the removal of the trial de novo. She said she was having difficulty understanding the provisions of the bill and wanted to ask some questions of Representative Ivan. She wanted to know who does the advisory arbitration award advise. It was her understanding that the advisory arbitrator's decision would provide advice to the school board. As far as she can tell, it is only the school board that is (indisc.) to make the decision about the retention or nonretention of the teacher. She asked if that was a correct understanding or does the advisory arbitration advise the court. She added that didn't make sense to her because changing to a judicial review from a trial de nova suggests that it is only a procedural review. It was her understanding from reading the bill that by removing the trial de novo or by not going by a binding arbitrator's report, it removes any independent or neutral third party decision making. She referred to the layoff provision and asked if it wasn't true that given the funding in the last several years, every district right now meets the test of not keeping pace with inflation. It's her understanding that if this bill was enacted, every district would immediately qualify for decisions with regard to tenured teacher layoff. MR. WRIGHT referred to page 6, line 30, which states "If the school board sustains the dismissal or nonretention, the teacher is entitled to mandatory advisory arbitration conducted by a neutral third party." The feeling is that if it will strengthen the teacher's case, they are entitled to it. It certainly is not something the teacher has to undergo; they can go to superior court from the school board decision, if so desired. In regards to Ms. Pierce's second question, Mr. Wright said he didn't know if every school district would meet the test of not keeping pace with inflation, but thinks there are some that definitely meet that. Number 2085 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if inflation was calculated into the bill. MR. WRIGHT asked what Representative Rokeberg meant by calculated. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said the witness testified that inflation would cause a triple (indisc.) in terms of the layoff provisions. MR. WRIGHT directed the committee's attention to page 4, line 23, "the school board has determined that the district revenue averaged over the past five school years has failed to keep pace, for the same period, with inflation or the cost of changes in the requirements imposed on the district by state and state law;". CO-CHAIR BUNDE speculated that the majority of districts in Alaska have not kept pace with inflation, certainly not the last four years when there has been flat funding. MR. WRIGHT added that it's conceivable that every school district probably could make that statement. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if this was something that was borrowed from the Governor's bill. MR. WRIGHT said no. TAPE 96-11, SIDE A Number 007 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON inquired if a list of those districts that have kept pace with inflation, if there is any, could be obtained through the department or the sponsor. MR. WRIGHT added he thought they were trying to come up with an interpretation of a financial emergency, rather than leaving it vague as it is in HB 217 and HB 398. Number 100 RICHARD MAUER, Member, Delta/Greely School District, testified in the capacity of legislative liaison for his school board. He believes HB 465 contains many excellent tools that are going to help in the Delta/Greely district. Specifically, he wanted to address the provision for layoffs based on declining student enrollment. He said in his school district, there is a military base that has been placed on the base realignment and closure list. Between now and the year 2001, the base will be nearly closed down completely. The impact on the district's student enrollment is dramatic. Currently, they have 890 students and by the year 2001, they are forecasting less than 500 students. Under current law, if teaching staff is reduced they have to nonretain and then go by their negotiated agreement for seniority as far as what staff is kept after they've gotten rid of the nontenured staff. Under the provisions of HB 465, it would give them, as a district, the opportunity to implement a plan to maintain their programs. He said an example is the district's science program where their chemistry teacher has no seniority; she has just gained tenure. As they reduce their students and the district has to nonretain, those teachers with low seniority are the ones who will be going out the door along with their science program. Under the provisions of this legislation, the district's plan could be implemented as to which programs they want to keep and then institute layoff. It is helpful for the kids, but it also helps the teaching staff because they are not nonretaining teaching staff. If there is an economic increase which brings the student population back up, these teachers could be brought back on. Number 365 DEB GERMANO, Member, Kenai Peninsula School Board, testified she is newly elected and is serving as the legislative liaison for the board. She referenced the previous comments regarding an emergency situation of a district, and said it needed to be understood that school boards want to do what is best for the children. There are 37 sites in the Kenai Peninsula School District. An emergency situation of laying off is not something they anticipate; they are always looking to increase staff not decrease it. She said it would be nice for them to have the flexibility to layoff staff in the emergency situations, but the intent is not there for the Kenai Peninsula School District or for that matter any other district, to look at laying off people to gain money for other things. With reference to the evaluation process, she thought there was some compromise or adjustments that needed to be made. She believes it is very important and needed to ensure that the staff is the best they could have for the children. A quality education is what we all want for our children and this gives the school boards local control to address the needs of the children locally. The school boards are the people who are looking at the kids. Number 559 MARILYN LEEHY, President, Valdez School District, testified this is an important piece of legislation for the Valdez School District both in terms of the layoff provision and the professional standards they would like to be able to establish and maintain in their schools. She mentioned that concern had been expressed about what those standards are, but as elected officials, it is their obligation, job and duty to ensure that professionals are up to those professional standards. She commented the Valdez School District has those standards in place now, but they aren't necessarily enforced because whether or not they are applied doesn't affect the schools. She said, "We'd like to have the opportunity to make sure that if these standards are in place, that they mean something and that we can do more than determine which teachers are incompetent, but also have some way of determining whether or not they are actually performing to an adequate standard; at least a satisfactory standard and there's a big difference which I think this bill addresses between whether or not a teacher is incompetent, which is cause for removal at the moment, as to whether or not that person can be retained in the district because their performance satisfies the standards that have been established." MS. LEEHY addressed the issue of process for removal and said it was important for committee members to know that when the school board meets to review this issue, they meet as a quasi-judicial body and they are bound by rules of law. They put together a full legal process and after that legal process is complete, after the rules of law have been established, they have to do it again. This legislation provides that once that record has been established - the conditions have been met for making sure the rights of the individual have been maintained, then that individual has the right to go on from there and review the school board's work in superior court to make sure the board did what they were supposed to do in the proper way, but not to start all over again from ground zero. The effect of that is to make it very difficult for school boards to afford the process of enforcing the standards they like to see. Number 727 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy's reaction to the notion of this being an unfunded mandate and school districts having to spend some time and money establishing an evaluation procedure. MS. LEEHY said she thought the assumption was that the school districts were not already doing that. She believes this could be used to improve the evaluation process and it may indeed cause some problems in the smaller districts for organizing the access to put together the plan. It is not to say the districts aren't already evaluating or don't already have instruments in place. It's part of the operating expenses and part of what is already done. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy as a school board member, to conceptualize how an evaluation team might be put together. MS. LEEHY replied there were professionals to do that. They employ a staff who are highly paid and well-trained. This bill provides for input and she didn't think their obligations should be pushed off onto people who don't have the training. She thinks this bill also provides that if the school board does it wrong, they are accountable for it. If these standards are not applied properly, it will come back on her on election day. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she anticipated a problem establishing the peer review portion of the legislation. MS. LEEHY responded she did. She thinks it is unfair to ask teachers to comment on another teacher's adequacy for employment. She feels that's what the school board gets paid to do and they establish the standards. There is a great deal of opportunity for personal perspectives to color the judgment of one teacher to another. The principals and administrators are the ones who see the overall view of the school and are best suited to accomplish that. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Ms. Leehy if she thought teachers were professionals and able to judge competent teaching. MS. LEEHY said she thinks teachers are professionals, but she hopes their entire orientation is looking for the best in the people around them and try to encourage and magnify that. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Valdez had a teacher mentoring program instead of a teacher review process. MS. LEEHY responded they didn't, but she thinks it is an excellent idea, but it would involve some money. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referenced Ms. Leehy's previous statement regarding the issue of incompetency as a cause for nonretention and remarked that HB 465 replaces that with the plan of improvement. He asked if that would take a tool away from the school board and create a situation where a teacher would not be able to be removed for one year, because the plan of improvement in HB 465 allows for an entire year of evaluation. MS. LEEHY said she wasn't worried about that because they don't hire incompetent teachers. She added that after the evaluation period, there is no reason why they should have an incompetent teacher. If something has happened to a teacher that is causing them to not perform at the standard, she wants to be able to work with that teacher. The school district has invested a great deal in their professionals and the stability of the district and the staff is of importance to them. Number 1030 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Education, said the department recognizes the hard work that Representative Ivan has devoted to these difficult issues both last year and again this year. This bill, HB 465, does incorporate the "subject areas" contained also in the Governor's compromise bill, but deals with the subject areas in a different way. She said the Department of Education agrees these five issues can be addressed in legislation this year: Lengthening the teacher probationary period; improving the teacher evaluation process; increasing public information in the collective bargaining process; eliminating the trial de novo, which has been an expense to school districts; and increase the school district's ability to determine how and when teachers are laid off. The department believes that a bill amending these items needs to be carefully crafted so the best information and the broadest consensus is available. MS. HOMME stated this Administration's bill contained all of these issues, as well. Each one of these issues can be addressed in a bill the Administration can support. The department is willing to work with Representative Ivan, the HESS Committee and others. Commissioner Holloway has met with Representative Ivan and has requested his cooperation in this endeavor. Representative Ivan has agreed to meet to discuss possible changes. The department would like to work through the unacceptable provisions of the legislation and explore possible changes with him. MS. HOMME presented a brief history of the various bills. The Governor vetoed HB 217 last year because it was felt that it didn't adequately address the real issues of the education system. The Governor promised to work on the problems that face the rural school boards especially and asked Commissioner Holloway to form a group of people to work on the issues and take a fresh approach to studying the contentious issues of HB 217. Thus, the development of HB 398 which the department thinks will promote excellence in education. Involved in that group were a variety of people, not legislators as Representative Bunde duly noted, but parents, teachers, school board members, the State Board of Education, school administrators and the university. All of the issues in HB 217 were contained in HB 398. MS. HOMME advised that HB 465 would be acceptable to the department if it contained provisions that need to be made to better reflect the compromise piece of legislation. As it is written, it is divisive in the education community. She noted that committee members had been provided a packet which included a list of resolutions that came from all the different varieties of education community groups; i.e., Association of School Boards, elementary principals, secondary principals, et cetera. In summary, Ms. Homme said these different groups felt these issues could be addressed this year. The department believes they can work with the sponsor to deal with some of the potentially divisive issues in HB 465. Number 1284 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards, summarized that he made an attempt to try to address HB 465 from the standpoint of quality, performance, fairness and accountability. If there are measures in this piece of legislation that's threatening, he really wants to discuss them. He said he was willing to work with anyone to address those issues and added there were a number of things that have been of concern to school board members. As everyone is aware, they are elected officials; they are held accountable and are responsible for the oversight of the school districts. They are asking for the authority to do some things that affect the quality of education. Unfortunately, the school boards may get those tools as a result of financial emergency. The Association of Alaska School Boards thinks these tools should be in place for their use currently. They need the money to operate the schools. In the absence of that and if the school has an emergency, the tools are needed to ensure that the programs that are provided or the qualifications that are going to be determined are not negotiable, but determined by local elected officials. He would like the opportunity to discuss that issue with committee members. Number 1350 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators, asked that the record reflect their concern with the section of the bill that deals with the dismissal of the administrator if the responsibilities of the evaluation process are not carried out. He noted the Alaska Council of School Administrators has submitted some substitute language to the sponsor, which he understood is a friendly amendment being considered by Representative Ivan. He added the council had other comments regarding the rest of the bill which he would like the opportunity to discuss at a later time. Number 1391 CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced the HESS Committee would hear HB 465 again at the request of the sponsor. He understood there would be additional work done on the bill, so rather than give a date certain, it will be heard again at the request of the sponsor. The hearing will be noticed and additional time allotted for testimony. Number 1404 CAREN ROBINSON said she would like to have a comparison of the different bills that deal with this issue. She expressed her desire to sit down in a working group and come up with a bill that could be supported by all HESS committee members. She appreciates all the work done by the sponsor and has made her concerns known to the department that it was an unfortunate mistake not to include Representative Ivan in the group. She commented the perspectives which come from the rural areas are very different from the urban areas and she is hopeful that in looking at this issue, they can be sensitive to those different perspectives. CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced that HB 373, Education for Family of Deceased Military would be held over until Thursday, February 15. ADJOURNMENT CO-CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting of the HESS Committee at 5:07 p.m.