Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/23/2000 03:03 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
               HOUSE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL                                                                               
                   SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                  
                         March 23, 2000                                                                                         
                            3:03 p.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fred Dyson, Chairman                                                                                             
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
Representative Joe Green                                                                                                        
Representative Carl Morgan                                                                                                      
Representative Tom Brice                                                                                                        
Representative Allen Kemplen                                                                                                    
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 409                                                                                                              
"An  Act  prescribing  the  rights   of  grandparents  related  to                                                              
hearings on petitions to adjudicate  a minor as a child in need of                                                              
aid and  to the testimony of  grandparents at those  hearings; and                                                              
amending Rules 3,  7, 10, 15, 17(e), and 19, Alaska  Child in Need                                                              
of Aid Rules."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 270                                                                                       
"An  Act  relating to  sexual  assault  and  sexual abuse  and  to                                                              
payment for  certain medical  costs and  examinations in  cases of                                                              
alleged sexual assault or sexual abuse."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 301                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to  the education  of exceptional children;  and                                                              
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 300                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to the establishment and enforcement  of medical                                                              
support  orders  for  children; and  providing  for  an  effective                                                              
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 409                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: GRANDPARENTS' RIGHTS REGARDING CINA                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 2/16/00      2220     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/16/00      2221     (H)  HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                       
 2/23/00      2278     (H)  SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED                                                                       
 2/23/00      2279     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/23/00      2279     (H)  HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                       
 2/23/00      2279     (H)  REFERRED TO HES                                                                                     
 2/25/00      2315     (H)  COSPONSOR(S): KOOKESH                                                                               
 3/23/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 270                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SEXUAL ASSAULT & SEXUAL ABUSE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 1/10/00      1890     (H)  PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/00                                                                             
 1/10/00      1890     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 1/10/00      1890     (H)  STA, HES, FIN                                                                                       
 1/21/00      1976     (H)  COSPONSOR(S): KERTTULA                                                                              
 2/16/00      2224     (H)  COSPONSOR(S): SMALLEY                                                                               
 2/18/00      2236     (H)  SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED                                                                       
 2/18/00      2237     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 2/18/00      2237     (H)  STA, HES, FIN                                                                                       
 3/07/00               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                         
 3/07/00               (H)  Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                             
 3/09/00               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                         
 3/09/00               (H)  Moved CSSSHB 270(STA) Out of                                                                        
                            Committee                                                                                           
 3/09/00               (H)  MINUTE(STA)                                                                                         
 3/15/00      2487     (H)  STA RPT CS(STA) NT 4DP                                                                              
 3/15/00      2487     (H)  DP: JAMES, GREEN, HUDSON, OGAN                                                                      
 3/15/00      2488     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DPS)                                                                              
 3/15/00      2488     (H)  REFERRED TO HES                                                                                     
 3/16/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
 3/16/00               (H)  Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                             
 3/23/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 301                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EDUCATION OF EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 1/21/00      1963     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 1/21/00      1963     (H)  HES, FIN                                                                                            
 1/21/00      1964     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DOE)                                                                              
 1/21/00      1964     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                       
 1/21/00      1964     (H)  REFERRED TO HES                                                                                     
 3/23/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 300                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MEDICAL SUPPORT ORDERS FOR CHILDREN                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 1/21/00      1962     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 1/21/00      1962     (H)  HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                       
 1/21/00      1962     (H)  ZERO FISCAL NOTE (REV)                                                                              
 1/21/00      1962     (H)  GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                       
 1/21/00      1962     (H)  REFERRED TO HES                                                                                     
 2/24/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
 2/24/00               (H)  Heard & Held                                                                                        
 2/24/00               (H)  MINUTE(HES)                                                                                         
 3/23/00               (H)  HES AT  3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PETER TORKELSON, Staff                                                                                                          
   to Representative Fred Dyson                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 104                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented sponsor statement for HB 409.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANNA STEWART, Administrator                                                                                                    
Central Office, Family Services                                                                                                 
Division of Family & Youth Services (DFYS)                                                                                      
Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                   
PO Box 110630                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 409.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
GLADYS LANGDON, Children's Service Manager                                                                                      
Southcentral Region                                                                                                             
Central Office, Family Services                                                                                                 
Division of Family & Youth Services                                                                                             
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
550 West Eighth Avenue, Suite 304                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 409.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BETTY SHORT, President                                                                                                          
Grandparent's Rights Organization                                                                                               
510 West 42nd                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska  99503                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 409.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MARY LOU FOSTER, Vice-President                                                                                                 
Grandparent's Rights Organization (GRO                                                                                          
4051 Romanzof Circle                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska  99517                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 409.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MARCI SCHMIDT                                                                                                                   
2040 Wasilla Fishhook Road                                                                                                      
Wasilla, Alaska  99654                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 409.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 400                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 270 as sponsor.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SAM SHEPHERD, Staff to Representative Eric Croft                                                                                
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 400                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 270.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                  
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
PO Box 111200                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 270.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LAUREE HUGONIN, Director                                                                                                        
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                                                          
130 Seward Street, Room 209                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided agency's position and answered                                                                    
questions regarding HB 270.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TRISHA GENTLE, Executive Director                                                                                               
Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault                                                                                   
PO Box 111200                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 270.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
BRUCE JOHNSON, Deputy Commissioner of Education                                                                                 
Department of Education & Early Development                                                                                     
801 West Tenth Street, Suite 200                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
RIC IANNOLINO, Board Member                                                                                                     
PARENTS, Inc.                                                                                                                   
PO Box 21892                                                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska  99802                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
STEVE ESSLEY, Special Education Attorney                                                                                        
Disability Law Center of Alaska                                                                                                 
3330 Arctic                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WALTER MAJOROS, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Mental Health Board                                                                                                      
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
341 North Franklin Street, Suite 201                                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in general support of HB 301.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM WEISS                                                                                                                       
PARENTS, Inc.                                                                                                                   
4743 East Northern Lights Blvd.                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska  99508                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
FAYE NIETO                                                                                                                      
1521 Elcadore Drive, Number 108                                                                                                 
Anchorage,  AK 99507                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MARC GROBER                                                                                                                     
104 Muldoon Road, Number 409                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska  99504                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MARY KLUGHERZ                                                                                                                   
PO Box 3379                                                                                                                     
Ketchikan,  Alaska  99901-3379                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on  HB 301.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DAVID MALTMAN, Executive Director                                                                                               
Governor's Council on Disabilities & Special Education                                                                          
PO Box 240249                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska  99524                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 301.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA MIKLOS, Director                                                                                                        
Central Office, Child Support Enforcement Division                                                                              
Department of Revenue                                                                                                           
550 West Seventh Avenue, Suite 310                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 300.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DIANE WENDLANDT, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                     
Collections and Support                                                                                                         
Civil Division (Anchorage)                                                                                                      
Department of Law                                                                                                               
1031 West Fourth Avenue, Suite 200                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 300.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-34, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN FRED DYSON called the House  Health, Education and Social                                                              
Services  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  3:03  p.m.                                                              
Members present at  the call to order were  Representatives Dyson,                                                              
Green, Morgan,  Brice and  Coghill.   Representatives Kemplen  and                                                              
Whitaker arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 409 - GRANDPARENTS' RIGHTS REGARDING CINA                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0209                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  announced the first  order of business  as Sponsor                                                              
Substitute for House Bill No. 409,  "An Act prescribing the rights                                                              
of grandparents related  to hearings on petitions  to adjudicate a                                                              
minor  as  a  child  in  need of  aid  and  to  the  testimony  of                                                              
grandparents at those  hearings; and amending Rules 3,  7, 10, 15,                                                              
17(e), and 19, Alaska Child in Need of Aid Rules."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
PETER TORKELSON, Staff to Representative  Fred Dyson, Alaska State                                                              
Legislature, came forward to present  the sponsor statement for HB
409.    House  Bill  409  is  drafted  with  the  intent  to  give                                                              
grandparents  more access  to  the  Child in  Need  of Aid  (CINA)                                                              
hearing  process.   He  explained  that in  case  of an  emergency                                                              
hearing for a child, the Department  of Health and Social Services                                                              
would not  be required to notify  the grandparents because  of the                                                              
48-hour  requirement;  it wouldn't  be  appropriate  to force  the                                                              
department  to find  all these  people  in 48  hours, which  would                                                              
delay  the hearing.   After  that initial  emergency hearing,  the                                                              
department  would then notify  each grandparent  of the  status of                                                              
the child.  After that first notice,  the department would only be                                                              
required  to notify  grandparents  who expressed  interest in  the                                                              
case and  asked to  be kept abreast  of the  proceedings.   If the                                                              
grandparents  are interested  and  involved in  the child's  life,                                                              
then they should  be kept in the loop.  Otherwise,  the department                                                              
shouldn't be  required to  keep notifying persons  who may  not be                                                              
interested.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0384                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  made  a  motion  to  adopt  the  proposed                                                              
committee  substitute  (CS)  for  SSHB  409,  version  1-LS1458\G,                                                              
Lauterbach, 2/16/00,  as a work draft.  There  being no objection,                                                              
Version G was before the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  explained that Version  G took out a  portion that                                                              
was superfluous and  expensive, which the Alaska  Court System had                                                              
pointed out.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked about the fiscal note.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. TORKELSON  explained that  the costs  reflected in  the fiscal                                                              
note that were saved with the new  CS would have been some initial                                                              
up-front  costs  with drafting  new  court  rules.   The  original                                                              
sponsor substitute  required the court  to give preference  to the                                                              
parents'  testimony  over  the grandparents'  testimony  unless  a                                                              
specific finding was  made for some reason that  the grandparents'                                                              
testimony  should be  considered  at a  higher level.   There  are                                                              
cases  where  grandparents  could  use their  rights  as  leverage                                                              
against a  long-standing dispute  with a son- or  daughter-in-law,                                                              
for example, and that shouldn't affect  a child in a negative way.                                                              
The court already gives precedence  to the parents' testimony, and                                                              
this would get  into some sticky issues.  The  proposed CS removes                                                              
that direct court rule change.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN  said a $100,000  fiscal note  seems somewhat                                                              
out of line for what he sees this bill doing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  said the court system  can explain the  costs, but                                                              
he believes it has to do with the  efforts necessary to locate and                                                              
notify the grandparents.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   asked  if   there   are  any   problems                                                              
identifying grandparents when people  are living together and have                                                              
a child but are not married.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  TORKELSON   answered  that  the  department   would  be  more                                                              
qualified to answer how grandparents are defined.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0646                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JANNA  STEWART, Administrator,  Central  Office, Family  Services,                                                              
Division of Family  & Youth Services (DFYS), Department  of Health                                                              
& Social  Services (DHSS),  came forward to  testify.   She stated                                                              
that  the division  supports the  involvement  of grandparents  in                                                              
child in need  of aid (CINA) cases.  The division  already engages                                                              
in extensive searches  for relatives in every case  where there is                                                              
a risk of  a child being taken  into custody, because it  needs to                                                              
determine  whether   or  not  the  relatives  are   available  for                                                              
placement  or available  as general resources  for these  children                                                              
and families.   In the absence  of any indication in  the division                                                              
records that grandparents are not  suitable for placement or other                                                              
resources,  the  division  contacts  them  regularly.    There  is                                                              
extensive documentation that is a part of every case record.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART said  the  division has  recently  heard from  social                                                              
workers  and  field  staff  around   the  state  who  are  feeling                                                              
increasingly  overwhelmed  by paperwork  and  documentation  tasks                                                              
which do not  meaningfully add to the protection  of children.  It                                                              
is critical  to be  sensitive to  balance the  goals of  the child                                                              
protection system  and the realities  of how this work  gets done.                                                              
This  bill  has  the  potential   to  increase  paperwork  without                                                              
meaningfully  increasing  the  services   to  and  protection  for                                                              
children.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART  noted  that  the  fact   is  that  grandparents  are                                                              
significantly different  from the other persons  who are currently                                                              
listed in  AS 47.10.030(b)  - the child,  the parents,  the tribe,                                                              
foster  parents or  other out-of-home  care providers,  guardians,                                                              
and guardians  ad litem.  The  reality is that foster  parents and                                                              
out-of-home care providers are known  to - and usually licensed by                                                              
- the division.   The guardians and guardians ad  litem can easily                                                              
be identified because they are appointed  through a court process.                                                              
Tribes  can  be  contacted through  tribal  directories  and  ICWA                                                              
[Indian Child Welfare Act] workers.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART indicated  that the  reality  is grandparents  cannot                                                              
always be  identified or  located.   Frankly, the division  cannot                                                              
always  find and  locate  parents.   When  parents  can be  found,                                                              
frequently  they are  not willing  to provide  names of their  own                                                              
parents.     The   realities   of  multi-generational   abuse   is                                                              
significant; many  of these parents  are estranged from  their own                                                              
parents.   It  is not  uncommon for  the parents  of the  children                                                              
taken  into custody  now to  have  had their  own parents'  rights                                                              
terminated   in  previous  court   actions.     Multi-generational                                                              
divorces cause  people to lose track  or, in many cases,  not even                                                              
know who their own parents are.   Frequently, children are born of                                                              
temporary unions where  the parents who raise  them are completely                                                              
unaware of the lineage of the absent parent.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART said  it is  not uncommon  for the  department to  go                                                              
through a  series of legal procedures  just to identify  a father,                                                              
and  has had  to do  termination  of parental  rights on  numerous                                                              
fathers  until the  right one  was found.   All  of these  factors                                                              
complicate the division's  ability to identify -  much less locate                                                              
- the grandparents.   This increases, in some  cases dramatically,                                                              
the  number of  notices  that  will be  required.    In a  typical                                                              
blended family - his child, her child  and their child - there are                                                              
eight grandparents.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0897                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. STEWART  referred to  a chart in  the handout that  showed how                                                              
many grandparents  the division would  have to locate as  a result                                                              
of HB 409 using  the estimate of 600 CINA petitions,  which totals                                                              
2700 grandparents every year:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Petitions filed per year estimated at 600                                                                                  
     450 of those petitions include one child                                                                                   
     or siblings with the same parents             450 x 4 = 1800                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     150 of those petitions name at least 2                                                                                     
     siblings who share only one parent child A    150 x 4 =  600                                                               
                                         child B   150 x 2 =  300                                                             
                                    Total grandparents       2700                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART reported  that  the division  has  done estimates  on                                                              
locating  those grandparents.   She shared  some sample  genograms                                                              
from  real families  in  the DFYS,  which  are complicated  family                                                              
structures.    If the  division  can  locate two-thirds  of  those                                                              
grandparents relatively  easily, that  equals a little  over 2,000                                                              
grandparents that can be identified  and located, but the division                                                              
still has  to provide notice to  them.  The notice  requires time,                                                              
paperwork, postage  and phone calls.   Approximately 350  of those                                                              
grandparents  are  going to  take  some moderate  search  efforts,                                                              
estimated at three hours each, which  is a little over 1,000 hours                                                              
of time to look for another set of grandparents.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. STEWART  said there  is a significant  number of  grandparents                                                              
that the division would have to do  extensive search efforts which                                                              
is estimated  to take eight hours  to track them down.   There are                                                              
situations where  the best information  gotten from the  family is                                                              
"I think his dad is in California."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. STEWART pointed  out there are some significant  concerns with                                                              
the  definition  of  grandparent.    "Parent"  is  defined  in  AS                                                              
47.10.990(19)  as  "the  biological  or  adoptive  parent  of  the                                                              
child."   If that definition is  applied to grandparent,  it isn't                                                              
known what  effect the termination  of parental rights  will have.                                                              
Do terminations of  parental rights (with or without  retention of                                                              
rights of inheritance),  cultural adoptions, incest,  or paternity                                                              
disputes affect  grandparent status?   It sounds simple  until the                                                              
realities of the families served is looked at.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART noted  that the  division  suggests that  the law  of                                                              
diminishing returns  is at work here.  The harder  to identify and                                                              
locate a grandparent,  the more likely it is that  the grandparent                                                              
has had no meaningful contact with  the child or the grandchildren                                                              
and the less likely  it is that that grandparent is  going to be a                                                              
be a  placement option  for that grandchild.   There  are innocent                                                              
grandparents who are estranged from  their children and would love                                                              
to have contact  with and be a meaningful resource  in the family.                                                              
The problem  is the  cost of trying  to assess which  grandparents                                                              
should be located and which are better left alone.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1098                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. STEWART  indicated that the division  would like to  propose a                                                              
number  of  amendments  to  the   bill.    Those  amendments  were                                                              
distributed to the committee members.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  asked who now  does the notification  of the                                                              
people listed.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEWART  answered   that  the  division  does   the  work  of                                                              
identifying  who has  to be  notified,  and the  notice itself  is                                                              
prepared and distributed by the Department of Law.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE asked who  in DFYS does  the work  to notify                                                              
the people listed.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1168                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GLADYS LANGDON,  Children's Service Manager,  Southcentral Region,                                                              
Central  Office,  Family  Services,  Division of  Family  &  Youth                                                              
Services, Department of Health &  Social Services, came forward to                                                              
answer questions.  She explained  when DFYS first gets a case, the                                                              
first notice usually is made by the intake social worker.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  asked what is  wrong with allowing  the case                                                              
file  and  that  social  worker  to  be  available  to  interested                                                              
grandparents with the parents' consent.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. LANGDON noted  there is no problem with that;  that is already                                                              
being done.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1231                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  asked if a  grandparent can call  the intake                                                              
social worker and talk openly about the case.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. LANGDON  replied unless the  parent has given  permission, the                                                              
grandparent is not a party to the case.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN asked  if the grandparent  was obligated  to                                                              
look  for  the  division  or  would  the  division  look  for  the                                                              
grandparent.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LANDGON answered  currently, the division will  initially look                                                              
for the grandparent to try to find placement.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1422                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BETTY   SHORT,  President,   Grandparent's  Rights   Organization,                                                              
testified via teleconference from  Anchorage.  She stated that the                                                              
Grandparent Rights Organization is  very pleased with HB 409.  The                                                              
bill  allows  the  grandparents  to have  the  opportunity  to  be                                                              
involved  in the hearings  held by  the state  in cases  involving                                                              
their grandchildren.   This is a very important  procedure for the                                                              
courts and  DFYS to be able to  properly establish what  is in the                                                              
best interest of the child.  Of utmost  concern is how the initial                                                              
contact with  the grandparents  will be  established.   What steps                                                              
will be made to ensure that the state  follows these statutes?  As                                                              
things  stand now, the  DFYS does  not often  follow the  statutes                                                              
that currently exist.   The DFYS needs to be  held accountable for                                                              
its actions.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHORT noted it appears that DFYS  is looking more at the money                                                              
side of it rather than what is in  the best interest of the child.                                                              
She  knows  of people  who  have  gone to  DFYS  and asked  to  be                                                              
notified, and they were told that  you are not a party to the case                                                              
and have no rights, and the grandchildren  are put in foster care.                                                              
She  believes   that  grandparents  are   a  solid  part   of  the                                                              
grandchildren's  lives and  being  shut out  it is  not doing  the                                                              
children any good.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE  asked if  this  was consistent  across  the                                                              
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHORT replied she has gotten  over 100 phone calls from across                                                              
the state and people are glad something  is going to be done about                                                              
the situation.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked Ms.  Short if she had any thoughts on                                                              
the DFYS testimony about how hard it is to find grandparents.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1562                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHORT suggested  a newspaper advertisement could  be run for a                                                              
certain length  of time  seeking certain  grandparents.   She also                                                              
suggested phone  calls and possibly  a state or  national registry                                                              
where a  grandparent could  register with DFYS  to be  notified if                                                              
there is any problem.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON noted he doesn't want  to put a monstrous burden on                                                              
the  department,  and  he  can  see  where  it  could  be  in  the                                                              
exceptional  cases.    He  asked   Ms.  Short  and  her  group  to                                                              
brainstorm  how  this could  be  limited  to Alaska's  DFYS  being                                                              
responsible for  locating and notifying grandparents  that live in                                                              
Alaska.   He encouraged her to  network with some of  the national                                                              
organizations and  see if anyone has  figured out a better  way to                                                              
do this.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHORT agreed to look into that.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1657                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARY    LOU   FOSTER,    Vice-President,   Grandparent's    Rights                                                              
Organization (GRO),  testified via teleconference  from Anchorage.                                                              
She explained                                                                                                                   
GRO is also a  national organization that started  about ten years                                                              
ago.  She has nine grandchildren  and has been a foster parent for                                                              
her  own three  grandchildren.   She  agreed  that the  department                                                              
paperwork takes time  away from the children.  She  wondered if it                                                              
were better  for the children to  be raised by  their grandparents                                                              
first and  then foster parents.   The cost would  certainly offset                                                              
the cost of the paperwork.  She noted  that grandparents are being                                                              
denied  by the  DFYS to  have the  grandchildren.   She feels  the                                                              
rights  are blood  regardless of  whether the  parent is  married.                                                              
She indicated that more than half  of the grandparents are willing                                                              
to  take over  and raise  the grandchildren  even  on their  fixed                                                              
incomes.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1766                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARCI  SCHMIDT testified  via teleconference  from the  Matanuska-                                                              
Susitna Legislative Information Office  in support of HB 409.  She                                                              
commented it  is a shame  to have to put  into law what  should be                                                              
common sense.  Grandparents are coming  forward when they find out                                                              
that their grandchildren  are in foster care, and  they are denied                                                              
access or  even the right  to take in  these children.   There are                                                              
relatives out there willing to take  in the children so they don't                                                              
have to go into  foster care.  The cost would  be better served if                                                              
relatives were eligible  to take care of the children  rather than                                                              
turn them away.  She urged the committee  not to let this bill get                                                              
lost in the system and not be implemented.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  asked  Ms.  Schmidt  how  she  would  see                                                              
solving a problem  if one exists between the grandparents  and the                                                              
parents.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHMIDT  said it is probably a  50-50 thing.  She  knew of one                                                              
grandparent  who sat  in DFYS for  five hours  after her  daughter                                                              
called her  to get her children,  and the grandparent was  told to                                                              
go home,  it wasn't her  concern.  She said  it comes down  to the                                                              
state balking to place the child with the relatives.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON indicated HB 409 would be held over.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 270 - SEXUAL ASSAULT & SEXUAL ABUSE                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1920                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  announced the  next order  of business  as Sponsor                                                              
Substitute  for House  Bill No. 270,  "An Act  relating to  sexual                                                              
assault and sexual  abuse and to payment for  certain examinations                                                              
in cases of alleged sexual assault  or sexual abuse."  [Before the                                                              
committee was CSSSHB 270(STA).]                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1929                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT, Alaska  State Legislator, sponsor of HB
270 came forward to present the bill.   He explained that SSHB 270                                                              
requires that the victims of sexual  assault cannot be charged for                                                              
the costs of forensic  exam.  This is not a  medical procedure, it                                                              
is a procedure  for the gathering  of evidence.  It should  not be                                                              
charged  under  a  woman's  medical insurance,  and  in  the  vast                                                              
majority of cases it is not.  The  reason he introduced this is to                                                              
clarify in  law for those  rare cases that  to charge a  victim is                                                              
not appropriate.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2011                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE  asked  Representative   Croft  why  it  was                                                              
limited to just adult victims.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said that wasn't  done at first, but he found                                                              
out that  the program at Alaska  Cares would be  destroyed because                                                              
many  of  their  clients are  Medicaid-eligible,  and  this  would                                                              
affect that.  There  are difficult issues.  It is  usually not the                                                              
child that  is consenting to this,  it is the parent.   When there                                                              
are issues of parents having more  control about not investigating                                                              
something where  they might  be the  suspect, it got  troublesome.                                                              
He tried to craft it around all that,  but eventually just limited                                                              
it to adults.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE  said  he  was  very  concerned  about  what                                                              
Representative  Croft was  saying.  "Alaska  Cares program  sounds                                                              
like what  they're doing is  charging Medicaid for  forensic tests                                                              
that should be paid by the police department."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2091                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SAM SHEPHERD,  Staff to  Representative  Eric Croft, Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature, explained  in the discussions  with Diana  Weber from                                                              
Alaska Cares, she  said there was an agreement  with the Anchorage                                                              
Police Department,  whether the  child may have  a diaper  rash or                                                              
there is  a lot of  reason to believe  there is sexual  abuse, not                                                              
sexual assault,  that there  are considerations  of sexual  abuse,                                                              
and  the child  can be  brought to  Alaska  Cares without  concern                                                              
about ability to  pay.  For whatever reason, Alaska  Cares will be                                                              
able to bill Medicaid.   There are a lot of reasons  why it should                                                              
be a police payment, but it is not.   If children were included in                                                              
the bill, Alaska Cares would be out of business.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT noted he struggled  with that a long time and                                                              
it is  an appropriate  question  to ask,  but he  was not able  to                                                              
write it that way.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said his concern  is by explicitly stating an                                                              
adult victim, in  Fairbanks where there isn't an  Alaska Cares, it                                                              
is implied  that the families of  minors will have to pick  it up,                                                              
or that insurance companies will have to be charged for it.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CROFT   explained   there  were   two   different                                                              
approaches and  they chose the one.   He said that Texas  uses the                                                              
approach "who does pay."  At least  one version of the draft early                                                              
on said  police shall pay  for this,  and that is the  appropriate                                                              
place to do  it, but then there  are fights about in  which police                                                              
jurisdiction it  occurred.  In Anchorage   the municipality  has a                                                              
grant that  goes to Providence Hospital  where there is  a special                                                              
room and trained  people.  It is  done for a set price:   $100,000                                                              
will cover  all the  accommodating, the  room and collateral  help                                                              
for these  exams.  If  the bill says police  must pay, there  is a                                                              
question of how  to deal with the situation where it  is done by a                                                              
grant  or some  other innovative  way.   "We kept  coming back  to                                                              
saying who should not rather than  directing who should, though in                                                              
the vast majority of cases, it ought to be the police."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON noted that Representative  Croft touched on some of                                                              
the problem.   Some of the children  get flown in from  some other                                                              
jurisdiction,  and it would  be confusing  which police  pays, and                                                              
many areas do not have police.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BRICE  suggested  maybe  it should  just  say  the                                                              
victims of  sexual assault  under the statutes  shall not  pay and                                                              
leave  it at  that.   Then leave  it  up to  whoever provides  the                                                              
service to figure out who will and who won't pay.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CROFT said  that  is the  way  it is  said in  the                                                              
current version, but the adult--that  concept that it says who may                                                              
not, not that  the police shall, is getting into  the jurisdiction                                                              
issue.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DEL SMITH, Deputy Commissioner, Department  of Public Safety, came                                                              
forward  to  testify.    He  reported  that  the  department,  law                                                              
enforcement  statewide and  the Alaska  Police Chiefs  Association                                                              
support this kind  of legislation.  In his experience,  the police                                                              
have never thought it appropriate  that a victim of a crime should                                                              
pay for  anything in  the way  of gathering  forensic evidence  to                                                              
support the prosecution of that crime.   The victim ought never to                                                              
see the charge on her insurance forms or be hassled in any way.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH referred  to Representative Brice's question.   When the                                                              
department  originally looked at  the bill,  he talked  with Duane                                                              
Udland, Chief,  Anchorage Police Department (APD),  and he brought                                                              
up the point that costs were already  being covered for youth, and                                                              
it was  not being  billed to  them.   Mr. Udland  didn't think  it                                                              
should  be switched  to have  the  APD pay  for an  exam that  was                                                              
already being paid for.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-34, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2361                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Mr. Smith where the money comes from.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH said  he asked the Violent Crimes Compensation  Board if                                                              
they knew  of anybody who  had been billed  directly.  He  has not                                                              
been able to  find a circumstance where the bill  actually went to                                                              
the victim.   The cost of  the exam is  part of the cost  of doing                                                              
business.   The Department of  Public Safety expended  approximate                                                              
$49,000  in the  last fiscal  year,  and APD  has paid  Providence                                                              
Hospital approximately $150,000 for sexual assault exams.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON asked Mr.  Smith what  happens when  in a  case of                                                              
suspected child  abuse, and  an examination is  done on  the child                                                              
looking for  signs of sexual abuse,  in most of those  cases there                                                              
won't  be  forensic  evidence;  as soon  as  there  is  reasonable                                                              
presumption that there  has been a crime, then  law enforcement is                                                              
contacted, and the team that meets  includes a representative from                                                              
DFYS  or a  child  advocate,  somebody  from law  enforcement  and                                                              
forensically-trained  people.  He asked  if it is true  that there                                                              
may be  some of  the cases where  there's a  process that  goes on                                                              
before it is  known there was a  crime, and is this the  area that                                                              
the Alaska Cares folks are concerned about.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH answered he would say yes,  although he wouldn't want to                                                              
try  to answer  for DFYS.   A  lot  of the  cases in  DFYS do  not                                                              
involve  the  police;  there  is  an examination,  and  if  it  is                                                              
determined medically  there is a  problem, the DFYS brings  in law                                                              
enforcement.   He doesn't  expect  law enforcement  to pay  for an                                                              
examination  when  it  was  not involved  in  it  initially.    If                                                              
somebody, for example,  said "I was sexually assaulted  six months                                                              
ago and had  an exam, now I would  like you to pay  for this," law                                                              
enforcement, in his view, would not  or should not be obligated to                                                              
do that.   If  evidence is going  to be  collected to prosecute  a                                                              
case, then  law enforcement needs  to be involved in  the decision                                                              
and the process from the beginning.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  asked what about a 17-year-old  girl who was                                                              
violently raped.   Implicitly she has to pay for  this exam or her                                                              
insurance does under this bill.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH said  a violently, sexually assaulted  person should not                                                              
be subjected to  the bill.  Any agency he has to  do with is going                                                              
to pay for the collection of the  evidence.   He doesn't read that                                                              
the  way  it  says  "adults"  would  necessarily  imply  that  law                                                              
enforcement would bill someone under the age of 18.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  said ten years  of working in  this building                                                              
tells him  different.  "When  we say A, we  mean A and  don't mean                                                              
B."  He agrees  it would be a heartless, sick thing  to do, but he                                                              
is just looking for some way in those instances to fix it.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH  said in  discussions with  the sponsor,  he knows  they                                                              
have tried very hard to find a way to take care of the problem.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2104                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LAUREE HUGONIN, Director, Alaska  Network on Domestic Violence and                                                              
Sexual  Assault, came  forward  to testify.    She clarified  that                                                              
while it may  be true that Deputy Commissioner Smith  may not have                                                              
found  an instance  where law  enforcement has  forwarded a  bill,                                                              
hospitals  have.  It  has happened  in the  Mat-Su Valley,  on the                                                              
Kenai Peninsula,  and in  Southeast, and that  is why the  bill is                                                              
being  brought  forward.    It  is  important  to  keep  the  word                                                              
"indirectly" in there  or to state "not charge  health insurance."                                                              
"Unfortunately,  Representative  Brice, if  you  just say  victim,                                                              
there are  still agencies  who take it  that means sending  me the                                                              
statement.    They  don't  consider  my  insurance  as  being  the                                                              
victim."   It is important  to encapsulate  that indirectly.   She                                                              
reemphasized  that often  it  is DFYS  that  is bringing  children                                                              
forward and billing  Medicaid, and DFYS has that  arrangement with                                                              
Medicaid.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUGONIN explained what it is  like to undergo a rape exam.  It                                                              
is graphic  and hard to  hear.  If  a woman is sexually  assaulted                                                              
and is taken to the hospital by police,  a friend, or gets herself                                                              
there, she goes  into the emergency room most often.   She will be                                                              
triaged  and may  be in  the waiting  room  for a  few minutes  or                                                              
several  hours.   If  she  is  in  a community  with  an  advocacy                                                              
program,  she will  have someone  wait  with her  and explain  the                                                              
process,  but that  doesn't  always happen.    In the  examination                                                              
room, she is the crime scene.  First,  she stands in the middle of                                                              
the floor on a white sheet of paper  and brushes down her clothes.                                                              
She then takes off  her clothes; if they are the  clothes in which                                                              
she  was sexually  assaulted, she  doesn't get  them back  because                                                              
they are  evidence.  She  brushes down  again to get  any possible                                                              
hairs or fibers.  She sits at the  examination table.  The clothes                                                              
get folded up and placed aside.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUGONIN continued explaining  there is a packet which contains                                                              
envelopes and different pieces of  paper.  They are taken out, and                                                              
one by one they  are gone through.  One packet  may contain a swab                                                              
to go  underneath her fingernails  to find  and skin or  hair that                                                              
she might have been able to get from  the perpetrator, and that is                                                              
put in  an envelope.   Another one is taken  out, and her  hair is                                                              
combed through  to see if  there are any that  are not hers  to be                                                              
tested for DNA  [deoxyribonucleic acid].  She is  checked over for                                                              
bruises or cuts  or abrasions or broken bones.  At  that point, if                                                              
she can  tolerate going further,  the exam is continued.   Another                                                              
packet contains  a little  comb which  is used  to comb  the pubic                                                              
hair  to see  if  there are  hairs  that are  not  hers.   Another                                                              
envelope will contain  a tweezer to pluck pubic hairs  to test her                                                              
DNA  and  match  it  against  the   perpetrator's.    There  is  a                                                              
gynecological exam  to look for tears and abrasions,  and pictures                                                              
are  taken in  that  position.   A  black light  is  shone in  her                                                              
orifices to  see if there is any  semen; there are swabs  that are                                                              
collected and put it separate envelopes.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUGONIN  said that the sexual  exam can take anywhere  from 40                                                              
minutes  to three  hours depending  upon how  traumatized she  is.                                                              
When the examination is finished,  hopefully there are clothes for                                                              
her to wear home from the hospital, and she can leave.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HUGONIN  mentioned that  in  the  best of  circumstances  the                                                              
perpetrator  is caught, evidence  has been  collected and  used in                                                              
the prosecution  to  a good end,  and the  perpetrator is  jailed.                                                              
She  indicated  that as  the  victim  recovers from  this  heinous                                                              
crime, at every  point where the victim has to relive  it, and she                                                              
does relive it because it is not  something that can be forgotten.                                                              
She emphasized that it is incomprehensible  that the victim should                                                              
have to  relive the crime  upon receiving  a bill for  the assault                                                              
exam from her insurance  company.  It puts her right  back to when                                                              
it happened.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUGONIN  urged the committee  to expedite the passage  of this                                                              
legislation.    She shares  the  concern  about children,  but  it                                                              
doesn't seem  that practically  this year that  can work out  in a                                                              
way where the bill can get through  both the House and the Senate.                                                              
It is important  to her that this stop as soon  as possible for as                                                              
many people as possible,  and if there are other  areas to work on                                                              
over the interim, her group would be interested in doing that.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1731                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TRISHA GENTLE,  Executive Director,  Council on Domestic  Violence                                                              
and Sexual  Assault,  came forward  to testify.   She dittoed  Ms.                                                              
Hugonin's testimony  and asked for  the committee's support  on HB
270.   It is a problem  that has  come up sporadically  around the                                                              
state.  She has been working with  victims of sexual assault since                                                              
1982, and it  has been around since  then.  It is time  to support                                                              
victims and say this won't be allowed to happen to them.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. GENTLE  agreed the issue  of children  is important too.   She                                                              
believes that during  the interim they need to be  able to look at                                                              
exactly what the  costs are, exactly what the system  is, how it's                                                              
working and what  would be appropriate and helpful  legislation or                                                              
addition  to  this and  what  might  be  harmful to  centers  that                                                              
already exist.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked for  the difference between "an adult                                                              
victim" and "a victim."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. GENTLE  answered that  it is  an issue  of clarity because  it                                                              
isn't known how it may or may not  affect the children's programs,                                                              
and  this is  happening  with adult  victims.    She believes  the                                                              
discrepancy may be in the "direct  or indirect" issue.  Indirectly                                                              
paying  through Medicaid,  through  insurance,  through grants  or                                                              
things like that, happens with children.   What is not wanted is a                                                              
victim's insurance to be billed.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE  said he believes it is possible  to artfully                                                              
cut out  child advocacy  centers to ensure  that the  process will                                                              
cover juveniles.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CROFT  wants the committee  to be  comfortable with                                                              
this  bill when  it moves out  of committee,  and  that it is  the                                                              
right fix  for the  situation.   He suggested  working on  it this                                                              
weekend and hearing it next week.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON suspended  the hearing  on HB  270.   [HB 270  was                                                              
heard and held.]                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 301 - EDUCATION OF EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1468                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next  order of business as House Bill                                                              
No.  301,  "An  Act  relating  to  the  education  of  exceptional                                                              
children; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1458                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BRUCE  JOHNSON, Deputy  Commissioner of  Education, Department  of                                                              
Education & Early  Development, came forward to testify.   He read                                                              
the following testimony:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     We believe  the passage  of this  bill is important  for                                                                   
     Alaska's   children,   especially  the   children   with                                                                   
     disabilities  in  our state  who benefit  directly  from                                                                   
     services  supported  by  this   legislation.    As  many                                                                   
     members may be aware, the Individuals  with Disabilities                                                                   
     [Education] Act (IDEA) was enacted  by Congress in 1990.                                                                   
     The  Alaska   Legislature  adopted   the  present   IDEA                                                                   
     statutes in 1993  to conform to the first  federal IDEA.                                                                   
     The federal  IDEA was extensively  amended in  1997 with                                                                   
     the  federal  regulations  interpreting  that  amendment                                                                   
     published  in   the  summer  of   1999.    We   are  now                                                                   
     considering  the amendments of  the state IDEA  statutes                                                                   
     to ensure  conformance with the new, stronger,  and more                                                                   
     detailed federal law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As  members have no  doubt determined,  HB 301  provides                                                                   
     considerable  reference   to  federal  IDEA,   which  we                                                                   
     believe   is   a  good   strategy,   particularly   when                                                                   
     recognizing  that  federal  IDEA fills  over  48  pages,                                                                   
     accompanied  by IDEA  regulations that  fill another  75                                                                   
     pages.  The  department believes that the  bill's strong                                                                   
     reference to federal IDEA appropriately  strengthens our                                                                   
     state  statutes  and  ensures   that  available  federal                                                                   
     resources  are available  for  Alaska's  students.   The                                                                   
     bill, as written, clarifies  the state role in education                                                                   
     of   our   exceptional   children   and   provides   the                                                                   
     opportunity,  if signed  into  law, to  ensure that  the                                                                   
     state  is in compliance  with federal  IDEA.  This  bill                                                                   
     repeals  inconsistencies  with  federal law  and  offers                                                                   
     clear  guidance and  assistance to  school districts  in                                                                   
     delivering services to special education students.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Finally,  this bill  clearly  defines  its services  for                                                                   
     gifted and  talented students are the  responsibility of                                                                   
     the individual school districts  and are not required or                                                                   
     financially supported by federal  government.  Thank you                                                                   
     for the  opportunity to provide  an overview of  HB 301.                                                                   
     I'd be  happy to answer  any questions and  would invite                                                                   
     Dr. PJ Ford Slack, our state  special education director                                                                   
     forward to assist.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON refreshed the committee's  memory:  "As I remember,                                                              
the state has  had a couple three  years to kind of get  on top of                                                              
this.  Got started  a bit late.  The person who  was working on it                                                              
... quit  or disappeared  ... so there  [are] lots of  unfortunate                                                              
things that  happened to  bring us  to this apparent  near-crisis,                                                              
and the administration represents  that if we don't get this done,                                                              
we will be disqualified for how many million dollars?"                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1300                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.   JOHNSON  indicated   the   department   has  just   received                                                              
notification  today  that next  year's  allocation  will be  $14.3                                                              
million.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON noted that he and  Senator Miller, Chairman, Senate                                                              
Health and Social Services Committee,  wrote to Senators Murkowski                                                              
and Stevens asking  if there was any possibility  of a waiver, and                                                              
they got a negative response.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON announced  this bill will not be moved  today.  The                                                              
intention is to hear from advocacy  groups who have worked on this                                                              
and  submitted  criticisms and  suggestions  and  questions.   The                                                              
Department  of  Education &  Early  Education  wants to  hear  the                                                              
testimony  and  has committed  to  working  over the  weekend  and                                                              
coming  up with  a  committee  substitute for  Tuesday's  meeting.                                                              
There will  be an attempt  to get all  the information out  to the                                                              
interested parties so  when this is brought up  on Tuesday, people                                                              
will  have  a  chance  to  testify  on  the  near-final  piece  of                                                              
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1181                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RIC  IANNOLINO,  Board  Member, PARENTS,  Inc.,  came  forward  to                                                              
testify.   He  explained  there are  20,000  children in  Alaska's                                                              
schools  that receive IEPs  [Individual  Education Plan]  that are                                                              
covered by the IDEA.  Some of the  state laws and regulations have                                                              
inconsistences  with  IDEA, and  this  does make  it   a  cleaner,                                                              
easier way of dealing with laws in general.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  asked Mr. Iannolino  what the mission  of PARENTS,                                                              
Inc. is.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. IANNOLINO  answered that  the mission of  PARENTS, Inc.  is to                                                              
assist  parents  of  children with  disabilities  to  receive  the                                                              
services  they  are entitled  to  in  schools.   It  is  advocacy,                                                              
training, and it  supports services and information  about parents                                                              
being able to assist their children with specific disabilities.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked  Mr.  Iannolino  if this  was  a  federally                                                              
mandated  organization   or  was   there  some  enabling   federal                                                              
legislation that puts organizations like this into place.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. IANNOLINO said it is a national  organization, and it is named                                                              
in IDEA as  a resource.  The  group is funded by a  federal grant.                                                              
He further answered  a question from Representative  Green that it                                                              
includes both physical and mental disabilities.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1076                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. IANNOLINO noted  his organization is concerned  with the issue                                                              
of  losing  the  federal  funds   if  the  state  doesn't  comply.                                                              
PARENTS, Inc. is  currently under the Office of  Special Education                                                              
Programs  (OSEP).  If  they were  to lose  that much money  [$14.3                                                              
million],  there is  a  more draconic  issue  here.   If  services                                                              
aren't  provided  to  families  with  children  with  disabilities                                                              
because the special  education programs won't have  the money, the                                                              
money will have  to come out of the general fund.   In addition to                                                              
that, something  that  is more frightening,  and  no one wants  to                                                              
happen, is that  parents will probably file lawsuits,  which means                                                              
millions  and millions  of dollars  of  more money  that would  be                                                              
drained out of  education in this state if the  state doesn't come                                                              
in compliance, and  the special education money is  lost.  Without                                                              
the special education  money, schools will not be  able to provide                                                              
the services to the children and families that IDEA requires.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked  Mr. Iannolino to highlight the  areas in the                                                              
bill that he has  concerns about that need to be  modified in some                                                              
way.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. IANNOLINO said PARENTS, Inc.  would present written testimony.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0937                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
STEVE ESSLEY,  Special Education  Attorney, Disability  Law Center                                                              
of Alaska, testified  via teleconference from Anchorage.   He read                                                              
the following testimony:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     State  law  concerning education  for  Alaskan  children                                                                   
     with disabilities should not  conflict with the revision                                                                   
     of the federal IDEA.  We believe  the following sections                                                                   
     of the bill should be revised.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Section  3.  [Obligation  to provide special  education:                                                                   
     enrollment  versus  residence].    This  change  is  not                                                                   
     required  in order  to  ensure compliance  with  federal                                                                   
     law.   But  we  understand that  the  federal office  of                                                                   
     special   education   programs  suggested   a   revision                                                                   
     regarding  Alaska's unique correspondence  school.   The                                                                   
     side-by-side  dated February  9 ...  said this  proposed                                                                   
     change clarifies this statewide  correspondence programs                                                                   
     are  responsible.   The Governor's  letter to  President                                                                   
     Pearce states that "correspondence  schools will have to                                                                   
     be creative in providing special  education and may have                                                                   
     to contract with the home school."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Unfortunately,  the change in  the legislation  goes far                                                                   
     beyond statewide  correspondence programs.   This change                                                                   
     is  a  shift  from  an  obligation  to  deliver  special                                                                   
     education and related services  based on residence to an                                                                   
     obligation based  on enrollment.  This will  likely lead                                                                   
     away  from  community-based  inclusive  with  the  least                                                                   
     restrictive  special   education.    For   example,  our                                                                   
     children in state boarding schools  would be affected by                                                                   
     this  change.    We  currently   have  complaints  about                                                                   
     special  education  issues  at  both  the  Alaska  State                                                                   
     School for  the Deaf and Mt.  Edgecumbe.  We  expect the                                                                   
     proposed  change will increase  those types of  problems                                                                   
     and  possibly  increase  the  budget  of  state-operated                                                                   
     schools.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Our written  testimony raises  several other  unresolved                                                                   
     questions    regarding   other    district    placement.                                                                   
     Disciplinary   exclusions  of   disabled  students   and                                                                   
     services  in youth  detention facilities,  we provide  a                                                                   
     revised   form  of   AS  14.31.186   that  retains   the                                                                   
     residency-based allocation of  fiscal and administrative                                                                   
     responsibility   while  attempting   to  address   those                                                                   
     issues,   as  well  as   boarding  and  private   school                                                                   
     enrollment.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     In  Section   5,  the  federal  law   changes  encourage                                                                   
     alternate dispute resolution  and require that the state                                                                   
     make   mediation   available.       To   be   effective,                                                                   
     nonadversarial  remedies, such  as mediation, need  time                                                                   
     to  accomplish   their  objectives.    We   believe  the                                                                   
     proposed  six-month statute  of limitations is  contrary                                                                   
     to federal law and that the  most analogous period could                                                                   
     be  applied  should  be  two years.    This  statute  of                                                                   
     limitations  should apply  to all  parties.   We have  a                                                                   
     committee substitute  ... that  provides for a  one year                                                                   
     of  statute   [of  limitations]  and  is   certainly  an                                                                   
     improvement, and we thank you for that.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     In  Section 6,  applicable federal  regulation  requires                                                                   
     states to  maintain a list of qualifications  of hearing                                                                   
     officers.   We  simply propose  these qualifications  be                                                                   
     sent to  parents and believe  this would foster  dispute                                                                   
     resolution.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     In Section  12, this  section contains  the repeal  of a                                                                   
     number of  Alaska's special  education laws, several  of                                                                   
     which are not  clearly in conflict with federal  law and                                                                   
     are important civil rights for  Alaska's most vulnerable                                                                   
     children.   We encourage  you to  retain, at a  minimum,                                                                   
     such  important  state's  rights as  the  obligation  to                                                                   
     identify children needing special  education and related                                                                   
     services,  also known as  "childfind," that's  currently                                                                   
     AS 14.30.274;  the right to a free and  public education                                                                   
     in  the  least restrictive  environment,  that's  at  AS                                                                   
     14.30.276; minimum  state criteria  for an IEP as  in AS                                                                   
     14.30.278;  and  state  law   definitions  that  special                                                                   
     education  and  related  services that  we  believe  are                                                                   
     consistent with federal law.   Those two are found at AS                                                                   
     14.30.350(9) and (11).                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     It  would   be  inconsistent  for  this  body   to  seek                                                                   
     meaningful education  reform and to simultaneously  curb                                                                   
     these important  civil rights in  state law.   Thank you                                                                   
     for  your consideration  of  our comments,  and we  look                                                                   
     forward to continued dialog  on this legislation.  It is                                                                   
     of   great   importance  to   Alaska's   students   with                                                                   
     disabilities and their families.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked Mr.  Essley  what  the  mission is  of  the                                                              
Disability Law Center.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. ESSLEY  answered the  Disability Law Center  has a  variety of                                                              
federal mandates to advocate for  and protect the rights of mostly                                                              
individuals with  the most severe  disability, defined  in federal                                                              
law  as those  with  developmental  disabilities  and people  with                                                              
mental illness  who are  in some type  of facility, which  usually                                                              
means a state  hospital.  He further answered  that the Disability                                                              
Law Center gets money from the state  and federal governments.  He                                                              
guessed the  budget would  be in  the region  of $1 million  which                                                              
provides  a  centralized  Anchorage   office  and  three  outlying                                                              
offices.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0483                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WALTER  MAJOROS, Executive  Director, Alaska  Mental Health  Board                                                              
(AMHB), Office of the Commissioner,  Department of Health & Social                                                              
Services, came forward  to testify.  He explained  that one of the                                                              
responsibilities  of that board  is to advocate  on the  behalf of                                                              
children  and youth with  serious emotional  disturbances  who are                                                              
eligible to  receive special  education services  in the  state of                                                              
Alaska and elsewhere.   The board shares  statutory responsibility                                                              
with the population with the Governor's  Council on Disabilities &                                                              
Special Education.   The board is generally in support  of HB 301,                                                              
but there are some concerns.  He  explained the board's perception                                                              
of what the problem is concerning  children with serious emotional                                                              
disturbances   (SED).    Historically,   SED  children   have  not                                                              
adequately had their needs addressed  within the special education                                                              
services program throughout  the state.  Many of  the SED children                                                              
are not  being identified  to receive  special education  services                                                              
and that those who are receiving  special education services often                                                              
do not get the  counseling and treatment services  that they need,                                                              
and that should be included as part of their IEPs.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MAJOROS said  the board would like to see  the bill strengthen                                                              
and not  weaken the  rights of  parents and  children so  they can                                                              
receive the  most comprehensive special  education services.   One                                                              
of  the  areas   that  needs  to  be  debated  is   the  issue  of                                                              
responsibility  of  services  should  be  based  on  community  of                                                              
enrollment   versus  residence.      The   six-month  statute   of                                                              
limitations for  the due process  hearings is a problem,  and that                                                              
should be at least one year and preferably  two years to encourage                                                              
parents to  use alternative  routes such as  mediation.   The AMHB                                                              
shares  some  of the  concerns  expressed  by the  Disability  Law                                                              
Center, by  repealing the special  education statutes the  risk of                                                              
losing of  proactive mandates  that currently  exist in  state law                                                              
such as  childfind program,  the idea  of educational services  in                                                              
the  least  restrictive  environment,   relegating  everything  to                                                              
regulations  and repealing  the statutes,  and  the minimum  state                                                              
criteria that exists in state law for IEPs.                                                                                     
Number 0177                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TIM   WEISS,   Board  Member,   PARENTS,   Inc.,   testified   via                                                              
teleconference from  Anchorage.  He is the parent  of a child with                                                              
disabilities.  PARENTS, Inc., is  the only entity authorized under                                                              
IDEA who  is currently  in full compliance  with the  requirements                                                              
stated in IDEA regulations.  PARENTS,  Inc. represents parents and                                                              
children throughout the state.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-35, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0066                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WEISS  said  all  items  in  the  current  laws  are  out  of                                                              
compliance  with   IDEA.     Section  3  correspondence   schools,                                                              
residence versus enrollment is an  issue of merely who pays.  That                                                              
is not a major issue in the eyes  of PARENTS, Inc. except that the                                                              
change  the department  is  proposing does  in  fact provide  more                                                              
choice for  parents over what schools  they want.  Section  5, the                                                              
statute of  limitations, PARENTS, Inc.  concur that six  months is                                                              
not sufficient.   They would prefer  two years; however,  one year                                                              
is sufficient  also.   Section 6,  maintaining  a list of  hearing                                                              
officers, is  already required under  federal law in IDEA  and its                                                              
regulations.   Section 12,  all of those  other sections  that the                                                              
removal of  were objected to  are explicitly mentioned  in federal                                                              
law and regulations.  There is no  need to put back into state law                                                              
because that will limit the state's  ability to go beyond that and                                                              
provide additional protection.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0241                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
FAYE  NIETO testified  via  teleconference  from  Anchorage.   She                                                              
thanked  the  committee  for  bringing  this bill  forward.    She                                                              
appreciates  the  work  of  Steve Essley  at  the  Disability  Law                                                              
Center.   She  is  confused  as to  why  at  this late  date  this                                                              
information is being  brought forward when many people  who sit on                                                              
the  special  education  advisory committee  with  the  Governor's                                                              
council had the information in December.   She urged the committee                                                              
to look  at the wonderful practices  that IDEA provides  the state                                                              
and the 20,000 children who receive  services.  She also urged the                                                              
committee to look  at the wealth of information,  as Bruce Johnson                                                              
pointed out, is embodied within IDEA  which provides a description                                                              
of how to operate.  She hoped the  committee moves this quickly so                                                              
corrective action  is not put in  place by the U.S.  Department of                                                              
Education.   She noted that April  14 is when the  U.S. Department                                                              
of Education will review the compliance efforts.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0488                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARC   GROBER,  Attorney,   testified   via  teleconference   from                                                              
Anchorage.  He has been involved  with litigating and representing                                                              
parents of exceptional children for  many years.  He has testified                                                              
about  an   almost  identical   situation   in  1993  before   the                                                              
legislature;  he drafted  SB 315  that was  introduced by  Senator                                                              
Miller in the 18th Legislature.   He has been appointed by the OPA                                                              
[Office of Public  Advocacy] to represent parents  and children in                                                              
this area;  and has been a  DOE [Department of  Education] hearing                                                              
officer for IDEA.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROBER  stated this  a very  complex situation.   He  noted he                                                              
shared  quite  a bit  of  material in  the  past hoping  that  the                                                              
committee could become fluent in  this area where there is so much                                                              
jargon.  He commented  HB 301 is trying to "patch  a toothpick and                                                              
turn it  into an ocean  liner."  The  legislation that  the agency                                                              
has offered is a disaster, and he  believes the committee couldn't                                                              
do worse starting from scratch.   The real question is "why are we                                                              
here?"  There has been some suggestion,  as was suggested in 1993,                                                              
that if something  isn't adopted immediately, money  will be lost.                                                              
He indicated he  has spent time conferring with  the congressional                                                              
delegation,  and he spoke  with Senator  Stevens' staff  today and                                                              
was  advised  that  the  U.S.  Secretary   of  Education  has  not                                                              
indicated  that there  is any intention  yet to  cut off  Alaska's                                                              
funding.    The  federal  government  wants  to  see  Alaska  move                                                              
forward; that doesn't mean Alaska has to adopt poor legislation.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GROBER noted  there  are a  number of  issues  that the  bill                                                              
presents  that a number  of people  have reviewed.   He  went over                                                              
some  issues that  haven't been  discussed:   whether the  initial                                                              
sections of the  bill, deferring essentially ongoing  authority to                                                              
federal  legislation, may  be unconstitutional.    There are  some                                                              
cases  he is  attempting  to  research  that may  illuminate  this                                                              
problem.  He as yet doesn't have  an answer, and that is a concern                                                              
for him.  There  are major issues with the due  process provisions                                                              
that the  bill would allow to  remain in Alaska  statutes inasmuch                                                              
as they  would remain  inconsistent and  noncompliant.   There are                                                              
additional issues  with the whole  concept of the state's  role in                                                              
this venue.   Unfortunately, because  this is a very  legal issue,                                                              
and there are so many non-legally  trained people involved, people                                                              
often get  confused.  He wanted  the committee to  understand that                                                              
the IDEA does  not control the individual actions  of local school                                                              
districts, parents  and students.   The way the IDEA  is fashioned                                                              
is that  is presents  a carrot  if the  state adopts local  policy                                                              
which meets federal  minimums.  It needs to be  understood that if                                                              
the  policy  statement   of  this  bill  is  adopted,   Alaska  is                                                              
essentially  enacting as  the state standard  the lowest  possible                                                              
standard.   Some of  the advocacy groups  will tell the  committee                                                              
that is bad because  it is tying the state to  the lowest possible                                                              
standard.   If Missouri can set out  a standard or policy  that is                                                              
beyond the federal  statutes, then Alaska can be  challenged to do                                                              
likewise.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. GROBER noted  he had submitted additional  testimony today via                                                              
e-mail to  all the committee members.   He urged the  committee to                                                              
pass good  legislation and not pass  bad legislation for  the fear                                                              
of losing money.   He finds it hard to believe  that the Secretary                                                              
of the United  States Department of Education is  going to cut off                                                              
funding to a  state which is trying to enact  legislation enabling                                                              
its agencies  and school districts  to provide appropriate  public                                                              
education to  its students.   He urged  the legislature  to become                                                              
involved in this.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  commented  he  was  interested  in  Mr.  Grober's                                                              
information  that the  Secretary  of the  Department of  Education                                                              
would not cut Alaska off because  he has also been in contact with                                                              
both of  Alaska's Senators,  and they  didn't give  Representative                                                              
Dyson much hope.   He asked Mr. Grober to drop him  a note on that                                                              
issue.  Representative Dyson told  Mr. Grober that his staff would                                                              
get him a copy of the CS when it is available.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0985                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARY KLUGHERZ  testified via teleconference  from Ketchikan.   She                                                              
is  a  parent  and  was  former  chair  of  the  Ketchikan  School                                                              
District's Committee on Gifted and  Talented Education.  She noted                                                              
that the  Alaska Legislature  was a pioneer  when it  created this                                                              
initial  legislation   because  the   definition  of   exceptional                                                              
children  included  disabled children as well  as gifted children.                                                              
This  statute addresses  these two  distinct  groups of  students.                                                              
Virtually  every part  of this  statute either  amends or  repeals                                                              
legislation  that covers  both learning  disabled (LD) and  gifted                                                              
and talented (GT) children.  It is  effective to leave LD children                                                              
with  the  protection  of  the federal  law,  but  it  strips  all                                                              
protections  from GT  students.    The GT  students  will have  no                                                              
statutory rights or protections which they have had since 1970.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLUGHERZ  indicated that  the bill repeals  all but  two minor                                                              
statutes related to gifted education  in Alaska.  All that remains                                                              
is  a  definition  and the  authority  for  districts  to  provide                                                              
something by regulations adopted  by the Department of Education &                                                              
Early  Development.   All the  other protections  and due  process                                                              
rights of this population are completely  stripped away.  Whatever                                                              
problem  the state  may  have with  complying  with  IDEA for  the                                                              
learning  disabled children,  there is  no reason  to abandon  the                                                              
gifted children.   Gifted children  represent 5-10 percent  of the                                                              
student population.   As this bill is looked at  over the weekend,                                                              
keep  in  mind,  that  the  original  intent  of  the  legislature                                                              
included  gifted and  talented  children in  the  due process  and                                                              
procedural  rights   that  were  afforded  to   learning  disabled                                                              
children.   The same process  and rights  need to be  provided for                                                              
gifted and talented students.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked  if  Ms.   Klugherz  believes  the  state's                                                              
responsibility  is the same  for gifted  children as for  children                                                              
with profound disabilities.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLUGHERZ  answered yes  it is,  and it was  the intent  of the                                                              
legislature in the original legislation.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1174                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DAVID   MALTMAN,  Executive   Director,   Governor's  Council   on                                                              
Disabilities  & Special  Education,  testified via  teleconference                                                              
from Anchorage.   He explained the duties and  responsibilities of                                                              
the Governor's  Council on Disabilities  & Special Education.   He                                                              
noted that  the bill is an  important civil rights statute.   This                                                              
is a  statement of the rights  and responsibilities  that connects                                                              
families  with government  (schools) and  connects them  in a  way                                                              
that they are  equal partners with the school  in direct education                                                              
of the children.   The civil rights statute being  considered also                                                              
establishes  a  way  for  parents and  schools  to  resolve  their                                                              
differences.  The council believes  this bill is necessary because                                                              
Congress has  changed federal  law, and it  has changed it  to the                                                              
extent that  Alaska's state  law is  inconsistent or conflicts  or                                                              
someway doesn't represent the improvements  that have been made in                                                              
federal law that would be good for  Alaskan families.  The council                                                              
would  like  to see  this  bill  move  along  because it  makes  a                                                              
statement  about the rights  and responsibilities  of parents  and                                                              
schools to educate children with disabilities.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked  Mr. Maltman if he thought the  bill was fine                                                              
the way it is.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. MALTMAN noted the council had  suggested some improvements and                                                              
submitted those  in writing,  which have  also been identified  by                                                              
other groups  who have  previously  testified.   He said that  the                                                              
council is also  concerned about the removal of  gifted education.                                                              
The  council is  not  comfortable with  repealing  the rights  and                                                              
responsibilities  of parents with  gifted students and  would like                                                              
to see some improvements in this area.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked  if it is the policy position  of the council                                                              
that  there  is  a public  and  state  responsibility  for  gifted                                                              
children  that   is  the  same   level  as  those   with  profound                                                              
disabilities.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MALTMAN  said the  council respects  what  the GT people  have                                                              
had.  The GT  students have not had the best of  programs, but the                                                              
GT parents have  had the basis to interact with  schools about the                                                              
education for  their children.   The council  would prefer  a much                                                              
improved  system for  gifted education  where  the state  actually                                                              
identifies  and   perhaps  standardizes  eligibility,   curriculum                                                              
perhaps, and ways to identify these children.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked  Mr. Maltman if he considered  being gifted a                                                              
disability.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MALTMAN answered no.  He believes  that all parents would like                                                              
to  regard  their children  as  special  in  many  ways.   The  GT                                                              
students have  unique talents,  and it is  worthy of the  state to                                                              
invest in their education.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  closed the hearing on  HB 301.  [HB 301  was heard                                                              
and held.]                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB 300 - MEDICAL SUPPORT ORDERS FOR CHILDREN                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1564                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next  order of business as House Bill                                                              
No. 300, "An Act relating to the  establishment and enforcement of                                                              
medical  support  orders  for  children;   and  providing  for  an                                                              
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA   MIKLOS,   Director,  Central   Office,   Child   Support                                                              
Enforcement Division  (CSED), Department of Revenue,  came forward                                                              
to testify.  She  said one of the major questions  a number of the                                                              
committee  had asked was  if this  bill passes,  what can  be done                                                              
about  existing   cases  even  though  parents   didn't  want  the                                                              
financial and medical  orders tied together.  She  noted that CSED                                                              
came up  with a  plan.   The CSED can  run a  list of those  cases                                                              
using the computer,  then it can notify the parents  that they may                                                              
apply to  CSED to have the  financial support obligation  vacated.                                                              
Then CSED  would review  the case to  make sure that  both parents                                                              
had due  process, and  if they both  agreed the financial  support                                                              
order should be vacated, it would be vacated.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON asked  Ms.  Miklos when  the  financial order  was                                                              
initiated, did both parents have to give permission.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS answered no.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked then  why  do  both  parents have  to  give                                                              
permission to undo it.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  said whenever an order  is vacated, the CSED  wants to                                                              
make sure that  both parents are  in agreement in the action.   If                                                              
one of  the parents  wants the financial  support order  enforced,                                                              
the CSED is obligated to do that.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON asked  if Ms. Miklos was saying even  if one of the                                                              
parents wants to  continue to have the order in  enforcement, that                                                              
should  have never  been there  in the  first place,  the CSED  is                                                              
going to continue it.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  answered yes,  and the  CSED would  be required  to do                                                              
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON said he must be missing something.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  explained the  CSED is required  to establish  a child                                                              
support order when someone goes on  public assistance or Medicaid.                                                              
The  order  is  established.   Both  parents  are  not  always  in                                                              
agreement  that they  have  that  order.   The  CSED continues  to                                                              
enforce that order until the parents withdraw from services.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked for an explanation of the orders.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MIKLOS  answered   that  are  court  orders   and  there  are                                                              
administrative  orders that come  from CSED  which hold  not quite                                                              
equal  weight  to the  court  order.    In  cases of  divorce  and                                                              
dissolution,  there is  a court  order  because there  has been  a                                                              
legal process.  In cases of public  assistance and Medicaid, there                                                              
hasn't necessarily  been that  legal process  so CSED develops  an                                                              
order.  If  there is already a  court order, the CSED  does not do                                                              
an order.  In  terms of correcting the problem, this  bill is only                                                              
talking about the orders done by CSED.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1920                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS said the most important  thing to her is that this bill                                                              
will prevent  problems in the future.   This bill helps  CSED take                                                              
care of some problems  that shouldn't be there.   The CSED is glad                                                              
to go back and correct the problems from the past.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked Ms.  Miklos  what  the  process is  for  an                                                              
administrative order.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1946                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  said first of all  paternity is established,  then the                                                              
people would be notified that CSED,  because of public assistance,                                                              
is getting  ready to prepare an order.   The CSED asks  for income                                                              
information  on  the noncustodial  parent.    There is  always  an                                                              
opportunity for  the people to  ask for an administrative  review,                                                              
an internal review  within the agency.  If the  people don't agree                                                              
with the decisions made by CSED,  they can go to a hearing officer                                                              
in the Department of Revenue.  If  the people don't agree with the                                                              
hearing officer,  then they still may  go to court, and  the court                                                              
may  overturn the  CSED  order.   That  process  happens in  every                                                              
single action the CSED takes.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON asked Ms.  Miklos if  HB 300  passes and  the CSED                                                              
wanted to  go in and vacate  the financial support order,  and the                                                              
custodial parents says,  "I've changed my mind, I  want you to put                                                              
it in force," would that be retroactive or prospective.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MIKLOS said  it  would  go from  the  date they  applied  for                                                              
Medicaid.   The custodial parent  would be able to  change his/her                                                              
mind.  That is  the whole point of this bill  that obligations and                                                              
debt are mounting up.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON asked  Ms. Miklos  if the  noncustodial parent  is                                                              
then liable for all those things  covered in the "phony" financial                                                              
support order.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS answered yes, and that  is one of the major reasons for                                                              
this bill.  It  is a valid support order; the  CSED is required by                                                              
state  law to  tie the  financial  support order  and the  medical                                                              
support order together when someone  opens a Medicaid case.  It is                                                              
a real order,  and the obligations continue to mount  up.  Another                                                              
issue is  when both parents agree  they don't want  this financial                                                              
support, but the  custodial parent goes on public  assistance, the                                                              
CSED will go  back and collect the  arrears.  That is  exactly why                                                              
this bill is needed;  the CSED doesn't want to be  in the position                                                              
of doing this when that was never the intent in the first place.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2116                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS commented  that this bill has no enemies,  and everyone                                                              
benefits from it.  It is a debt that  is accumulating, and at some                                                              
point the CSED may have to go back and enforce it.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  asked  if  a  child  has  Denali  KidCare                                                              
insurance or  Indian Health Insurance  is that a  requirement that                                                              
will be put on the parent who should be paying.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS said that in terms of  Indian Health Insurance, that is                                                              
one of the reasons the CSED does  not have to do a medical support                                                              
order.   If there is already  reasonable health care  coverage for                                                              
the child, the medical support order  doesn't have to be enforced.                                                              
It is not  the paying parent that  has to pay for  anything having                                                              
to do with  Indian Health Service  (IHS)  It is the  paying parent                                                              
who would  be responsible  if there  were no   available,  and the                                                              
paying parent had reasonable health insurance available.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  asked   if  Denali   KidCare  could   be                                                              
considered reasonable health insurance.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2214                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  stated that  Denali KidCare  is not  considered.   The                                                              
CSED is doing  this so there will  be less public money  that goes                                                              
into the  case, so  Denali KidCare  is not  counted as  reasonable                                                              
health coverage.   Instead  of having  Denali KidCare or  Medicaid                                                              
cover the  full cost of  health care, the  CSED is trying  to find                                                              
someone out  there who has private  money or private  insurance to                                                              
help balance out that cost.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  suggested  defining  the health  care  as                                                              
"private" health care in the bill.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  clarified that the CSED  can go after money;  there is                                                              
nothing  in state  or federal  law  that prohibits  the CSED  from                                                              
doing  that.   It doesn't  necessarily  need to  be a  legislative                                                              
change.  The CSED has not done that very much.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said it seems  like the CSED is  trying to                                                              
get the public-pay health care mandated  for people by giving this                                                              
proving ground  that it can't find  these people out  here without                                                              
health insurance  or it seems like  the proof goes to  the easiest                                                              
available insurance  rather than what the  parent's responsibility                                                              
really is.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2315                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  explained that for someone  who is on  Medicaid only--                                                              
not  on  public  assistance--the   medical  support  assists  with                                                              
Medicaid.  That would help reduce  the obligation or the liability                                                              
if someone had  medical support.  The financial part  of the order                                                              
goes to the  custodial parent.   This isn't true if  the custodial                                                              
parent  is  on  public  assistance.     If  he/she  is  on  public                                                              
assistance,  then the CSED  collects everything  on behalf  of the                                                              
state so  the CSED is  not in any way  trying to reduce  the money                                                              
that  is coming  into  the state.   A  custodial  parent who  said                                                              
he/she doesn't want this, but the  CSED is still trying to collect                                                              
the  medical insurance  which will  help medical  assistance.   In                                                              
fact, the CSED  has worked with the parents even  more closely and                                                              
thinks  it will  be able  to increase  those collections.   It  is                                                              
true, separate from all this legislation,  the CSED has not really                                                              
aggressively gone  after the private  money; that could  be done--                                                              
nothing prohibits  that.  There is  no intent in  this legislation                                                              
to gear down the efforts.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-35, SIDE B                                                                                                              
Number 2360                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MIKLOS  said the  reasons  the  CSED  hasn't gone  after  the                                                              
private pay is it doesn't have information  that there is a lot of                                                              
money out  there.  Many people  who are on public  assistance, the                                                              
father  or the obligee  or the  paying parent,  also doesn't  have                                                              
very much money  so there just isn't  a lot of money.   "I suppose                                                              
if we found out  that the paying parent is incredibly  wealthy but                                                              
didn't  have   insurance,  we  could   go  after   that  financial                                                              
obligation for the medical insurance."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  asked  if   the  obligee   doesn't  have                                                              
insurance and  the custodial  parent is  on public assistance  and                                                              
getting Medicaid and/or Denali KidCare,  what is the mechanism for                                                              
charging. How do  you go back to the obligee for  that?  Does that                                                              
change the Medicaid or CHIP [Children's  Health Insurance Program]                                                              
Denali  KidCare  qualifications?    Is this  Medicaid  CHIP  money                                                              
assessed  back  to  the  obligee  and  then  does  it  change  the                                                              
qualifications  for  the  person  on assistance  because  of  this                                                              
order.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  said that has not been  done, but there is  nothing in                                                              
law that  prohibits the  CSED from doing  that.   It is more  of a                                                              
resource issue.   She  suggested that  Diane Wendlandt  could talk                                                              
about the mechanism.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  asked if  the amount the  state can go  after from                                                              
the  obligor is  limited  by the  amount  of the  medical  support                                                              
order.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS answered  no, the medical support order  does not speak                                                              
to an amount right now so it wouldn't be limited.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON  asked if  the requirement  in the medical  support                                                              
order is  for insurance,  the maximum of  Denali KidCare  would be                                                              
about $150  per year, so  would that be  what CSED would  go after                                                              
the obligor for.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  explained no,  right now the  CSED is going  after the                                                              
coverage, not after the money.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  said he  was  uncomfortable  with the  words  "to                                                              
require basic care  coverage for the child" and he  wanted to know                                                              
why  it wouldn't  require basic  health care  for the  child.   It                                                              
seems to  him the use  of the word  coverage precludes  the direct                                                              
pay.   Somewhere  else  it said  an  employee  or group  insurance                                                              
program which seemed to him to unduly  limit either the direct pay                                                              
or a private insurance program.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2221                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DIANE  WENDLANDT,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Collections  and                                                              
Support, Civil Division (Anchorage),  Department of Law, testified                                                              
via teleconference  from Anchorage.  She referred  to the original                                                              
question  that has  to do  with the  difference between  requiring                                                              
someone to provide  insurance as opposed to making  cash payments.                                                              
Right now  the focus of  CSED is to  assure that there  is private                                                              
insurance for  the children, but that  is not the only  thing that                                                              
CSED can  or does  do.   Already in  Civil Rule  90.3 and  in most                                                              
court  orders  now,  there  is  a   provision  requiring  parents,                                                              
generally  the  noncustodial  parent,  to  pay a  portion  of  any                                                              
unreimbursed health  care costs.  If there is  no insurance, there                                                              
is a requirement in the order that  the parent pays basically cash                                                              
whenever a child has medical expenses.   That really addresses the                                                              
issue of  the cash.  As the  law stands currently,  normally those                                                              
expenses  are  split  between  the  parents  50-50.    Instead  of                                                              
ordering insurance,  a payment could  be ordered but  the approach                                                              
of  Civil Rule  90.3  has  been to  focus  on either  getting  the                                                              
insurance or  to require  parents to pay  once those  expenses are                                                              
incurred,  rather  than  trying  to  say  that  expenses  will  be                                                              
averaged per year, and this amount  per year will be set on.  That                                                              
is not the approach that has been taken.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  DYSON  asked Ms.  Wendlandt  why  in the  amendments  it                                                              
couldn't continue to say insurance,  private, public, employer, or                                                              
direct payment.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. WENDLANDT said  she didn't see any reason why  it couldn't say                                                              
that; it  has not been  included in this  bill because there  is a                                                              
different  purpose.    This  bill is  trying  to  solve  different                                                              
problems.   The  CSED  is focusing  on  an existing  problem;  the                                                              
question of direct payments hasn't  come up in the problem because                                                              
it  has been  addressed in  Civil  Rule 90.3.   That  goes to  the                                                              
questions of  having child  support issues  split between  a court                                                              
rule and statute.  It has not been  a problem given the provisions                                                              
in   Civil   Rule   90.3  which   are   incorporated   into   most                                                              
administrative orders.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1935                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  if there  would be  a problem  with                                                              
inserting "private" when insurance  is talked about throughout the                                                              
bill.  He suggested that on page  1, line 5, "private" be added so                                                              
it read  "private health  care coverage"  and that coverage  could                                                              
then be anything from a cash payment  to an insurance policy.  The                                                              
reason he says "private" is to clear up the confusion he had.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS said the "private" would  include personal insurance as                                                              
well as insurance  through the employer.  She  asked Ms. Wendlandt                                                              
if she  sees any problems  with adding  the word "private"  in the                                                              
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1864                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. WENDLANDT answered  no she does not.  That issue  has not come                                                              
up in litigation.   It has never been a problem  explaining to the                                                              
court that yes, in fact, the requirements  for private health care                                                              
insurance and that programs like  Medicaid or Denali KidCare would                                                              
not  be  considered  other  insurance  to  exempt  a  parent  from                                                              
providing some  sort of private health  care coverage.   As far as                                                              
she knows,  the question  of whether this  is limited  to employer                                                              
has never  come up.   She doesn't think  there would be  any legal                                                              
problem adding "private health care."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS noted it wouldn't affect  the court rule at all because                                                              
the one amendment considered which  would clarify this was a court                                                              
rule change.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 5:40 p.m. to 5:41 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1818                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  noted this would only  go into effect after  they have                                                              
already  considered whether  the  child had  adequate health  care                                                              
through  the   or other  insurance  coverage which  would then  be                                                              
CHAMPUS [Civilian  Health and  Medical Program Uniformed  Service]                                                              
so then  if the  parents don't  have that  coverage then  the CSED                                                              
would be looking for some kind of private coverage.                                                                             
MS.  WENDLANDT  agreed  that  is  correct.   If  it  is  initially                                                              
determined that  there is   or CHAMPUS  or something  similar, she                                                              
doesn't believe the CSED takes the  next step of issuing a medical                                                              
support order.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said it seemed  to him that  "we're saying                                                              
Indian  Health  Services  would  be the  first  payer;  and  other                                                              
insurance  would  be  the  other payer  unless  there  was  Denali                                                              
KidCare who always  says Indian Health Services is  the last payer                                                              
of resort.   And then CHAMPUS  and then the medical  support order                                                              
would then  go to the parent.   That parent would  not necessarily                                                              
be on  any kind  of assistance  at that  point, the medical  order                                                              
would go forward.   If it could be satisfied by  the state then is                                                              
there an  assessment on the obligor  because of that.   If private                                                              
health care is going to be required  as part of the support order,                                                              
but we're always going to cave in  at public pay first, is that an                                                              
assessment that goes forward?"                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS said that Denali KidCare  and Medicare are not included                                                              
in the same category as  and CHAMPUS.   It is true that if someone                                                              
is covered  by   or CHAMPUS, the  CSED may not  even do  a medical                                                              
support order.  If they're not, then  the CSED looks for a medical                                                              
support from private health care.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1708                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said  he   understands  that  the  health                                                              
insurance carried by an employer  or some private health insurance                                                              
generally would  be considered  adequate as  would the  ability to                                                              
pay.  He  asked if the public  pay is considered adequate  and has                                                              
"adequate" been challenged by an irate parent.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MIKLOS  said the  whole purpose  of this bill  is for  CSED to                                                              
reimburse Medicaid so  that Medicaid is not in  any way considered                                                              
the initial  "adequate."   It is only  the other public  ones like                                                              
CHAMPUS.   She doesn't  know if  there have  been any  challenges.                                                              
One concern in terms of  has been  it is actually available to the                                                              
child as opposed to someone who is  eligible for  and lives in New                                                              
York, it may not do him/her any good.   The CSED does look at that                                                              
to determine if it is adequate.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WENDLANDT  answered that  she  believes "adequate"  has  been                                                              
challenged - not necessarily CSED's  definition but in the context                                                              
of a  court action.   She  believes there  have been  a couple  of                                                              
cases where  one parent  has argued that   was not  adequate, and,                                                              
therefore, one parent  or the other should be  required to provide                                                              
private insurance, either  because  was not available  in the area                                                              
or  because   did not  provide the  special services  to meet  the                                                              
special needs  of the  child, and  private insurance would  better                                                              
meet the needs  of the child.   She is not aware of  any ruling by                                                              
CSED on  that, but she  believes courts have  ruled on that.   She                                                              
knows  of one  case  where the  court  agreed  with the  custodial                                                              
parent that for special needs of  the child,  was not adequate and                                                              
required the  obligor to provide  insurance because  insurance was                                                              
available to the obligor.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1574                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN DYSON suggested there may  be some amendments forthcoming                                                              
and he would  try to bring this  bill back up next week.   [HB 300                                                              
was heard and held.]                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1502                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further business  before the committee,  the House                                                              
Health,  Education  and  Social  Services  Committee  meeting  was                                                              
adjourned at 5:48 p.m.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects