Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/26/1999 01:36 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
    SENATE COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                               
                    April 26, 1999                                                                                              
                      1:36 p.m.                                                                                                 
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
Senator Tim Kelly, Chair                                                                                                        
Senator Jerry Mackie, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Randy Phillips                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
Senator Jerry Ward                                                                                                              
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
SENATE BILL NO. 156                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to municipal incorporation, to reclassification of                                                             
cities, to municipal boundary changes, and to dissolution of                                                                    
     -MOVED SB 156 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 125(CRA)                                                                                                 
"An Act relating to school crisis response planning."                                                                           
     -MOVED CSSB 125(CRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                
SB 156 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                             
SB 125 - See HESS minutes dated 4/19/99.                                                                                        
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
Kevin Waring, Chairperson                                                                                                       
Local Boundary Commission                                                                                                       
333 W 4th Ave., Ste. 220                                                                                                        
Anchorage, AK  99501-2341                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 156                                                                             
Tim Grussendorf                                                                                                                 
Legislative Aide to Senator Hoffman                                                                                             
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified for the sponsor of SB 125                                                                        
Bruce Johnson, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Teaching and Learning Support                                                                                       
Department of Education                                                                                                         
801 W 10th St., Ste. 200                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK  99801-1894                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 125                                                                             
John Angaiak                                                                                                                    
Lower Yukon Kuskokwim School District                                                                                           
PO Box 1233                                                                                                                     
Bethel, AK  99559                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 125                                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-8, SIDE A                                                                                                               
Number 001                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TIM KELLY called the Senate Community & Regional Affairs                                                               
Committee meeting to order at 1:36 p.m.  Present were Senators                                                                  
Phillips, Mackie and Kelly.  Chairman Kelly announced the first                                                                 
order of business scheduled before the committee to be SB 156, a                                                                
measure sponsored by the Senate Community and Regional Affairs                                                                  
Committee at the request of the Local Boundary Commission (LBC).                                                                
        SB 156-MUNICIPAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND BOUNDARIES                                                                         
KEVIN WARING, Chairman of the Local Boundary Commission, made the                                                               
following comments via teleconference.  The LBC and Alaska                                                                      
Municipal League (AML) support SB 156, which amends language put                                                                
into statute in 1985.  SB 156 does not alter LBC's powers, but does                                                             
make two changes.  First, SB 156 makes consistent in Title 29,                                                                  
language pertaining to five types of petitions regarding how the                                                                
LBC may amend and accept, or reject, each type of petition.  After                                                              
researching the legislative history of those sections, Department                                                               
of Community and Regional Affairs' (DCRA) staff determined that no                                                              
purposeful reason existed for the inconsistent language.  Uniform                                                               
language throughout Title 29 will reduce confusion for petitioners.                                                             
Second, SB 156 will endorse, by statute, the LBC's present practice                                                             
of attaching conditions when approving certain types of petitions.                                                              
The LBC believes it is authorized to attach conditions; that                                                                    
viewpoint has been endorsed by the Department of Law.  The practice                                                             
of attaching conditions is often beneficial to petitioners, and it                                                              
is helpful to the LBC in protecting the state's interest.                                                                       
CHAIRMAN WARING illustrated the need to attach conditions with the                                                              
following examples.  The LBC has approved seven dissolution                                                                     
petitions filed by second class cities since 1994.  At the time the                                                             
dissolution was approved, the cities continued to have assets,                                                                  
liabilities and financial obligations to other parties.  The LBC                                                                
conditionally approved the dissolutions subject to proper                                                                       
disposition of public assets and debt clearance.  On occasion, the                                                              
LBC identified a sales or bed tax as a revenue source to finance                                                                
the operations of a to-be incorporated city.  Approval of petitions                                                             
for incorporation was conditioned upon local approval of the taxes                                                              
to ensure that the petitioner would  have adequate revenue sources                                                              
to fund its operations.                                                                                                         
There being no further testimony, SENATOR MACKIE moved SB 156 from                                                              
committee with individual recommendations.  There being no                                                                      
objection, the motion carried.                                                                                                  
                   SB 125-SCHOOL SAFETY PLAN                                                                                    
CHAIRMAN KELLY announced a Senate Community and Regional Affairs                                                                
proposed committee substitute to SB 125 had been prepared.                                                                      
TIM GRUSSENDORF, staff to Senator Hoffman, sponsor of SB 125,                                                                   
stated SB 125 was introduced at the request of the Lower Yukon                                                                  
Kuskokwim School District to address its concerns about crisis                                                                  
response planning.  In February of 1997, gunfire exploded in the                                                                
hallways of the Bethel Regional High School, ending the lives of                                                                
Principal Ron Edwards and student Josh Palacios.  The actions that                                                              
took place immediately following the tragedy still haunt Bethel                                                                 
residents with questions about who was in charge and what should                                                                
have occurred.  The crisis was magnified by the fact that one of                                                                
the victims was the principal, who people were accustomed to                                                                    
looking to for direction.  Senator Hoffman worked with the                                                                      
Department of Education and others to ensure that the bill is user                                                              
friendly and inclusive, and does not place a financial burden on                                                                
schools, however, it became evident early on that the scope of SB
125 was very broad regarding school safety issues.  A committee                                                                 
substitute was prepared to respond to the concerns expressed by the                                                             
Department of Education and other interested parties.                                                                           
MR. GRUSSENDORF discussed the difference between the original bill                                                              
and the proposed committee substitute.  Language on page 1, lines                                                               
7 through 13, of the committee substitute divides the committee                                                                 
membership into two components: those who shall serve and those who                                                             
may serve.  Those who shall serve include the principal, one                                                                    
certified staff member, one classified staff member, and one                                                                    
parent.  Those who may serve include school board members, advisory                                                             
board members, school counselors, law enforcement representatives,                                                              
and a student in grade 10 or above attending that school.  The next                                                             
change occurs on page 2, lines 7 and 8.  The word "faculty" was                                                                 
added because faculty members are also present in the school                                                                    
building.  The third change occurs on page 2, line 9.  Subsection                                                               
(5) was removed because the contents of that subsection fall under                                                              
the requirement of the components of the school specific plan.  The                                                             
fourth, on page 2, lines 17 through 23, requires that the crisis                                                                
response plan be reviewed annually and updated as appropriate.                                                                  
Specific language requiring the plan to be updated every three                                                                  
years was removed.  The last change, on page 2, line 24, removes a                                                              
specific time requirement for annual training.  Opinions on the                                                                 
appropriate level of training for inservice and school crisis                                                                   
response vary.  Some suggest initial staff training can be                                                                      
completed in two days, with less time being necessary in subsequent                                                             
Number 185                                                                                                                      
SENATOR MACKIE asked what position was taken on SB 125 by the                                                                   
Department of Education, the Alaska School Board Association, and                                                               
school boards and districts throughout the state.                                                                               
MR. GRUSSENDORF informed committee members no one has opposed the                                                               
bill, and some schools have already complied with the requirements                                                              
set out in SB 125.                                                                                                              
SENATOR MACKIE said he is concerned that enactment of SB 125 will                                                               
place an unfunded mandate on school districts.                                                                                  
MR. GRUSSENDORF pointed out the bill has a zero fiscal note.  He                                                                
stated he believes most schools will develop crisis response teams                                                              
whether legislation passes or not.                                                                                              
Number 215                                                                                                                      
MR. BRUCE JOHNSON, Director of the Division of Teaching and                                                                     
Learning within the Department of Education (DOE), made the                                                                     
following statements.  DOE supports SB 125 as it believes that all                                                              
Alaskan students should be provided with protection that can come                                                               
from pro-active planning in each school community, therefore a                                                                  
requirement that directs all schools to develop a crisis plan in                                                                
conjunction with key community leaders is a good idea.  DOE worked                                                              
with Senator Hoffman's staff and believes the proposed committee                                                                
substitute recognizes the diversity that exists in Alaska.  It                                                                  
appropriately provides the latitude to afford each school community                                                             
the task of identifying appropriate members to serve on the                                                                     
planning team consistent with the services available in that                                                                    
community.  DOE also appreciates that the contents sections of the                                                              
plan are sufficiently broad to allow community and school                                                                       
flexibility while ensuring specific safety for students in that                                                                 
community.  Regarding the unfunded mandate concern expressed by                                                                 
Senator Mackie, MR. JOHNSON said DOE believes the process a                                                                     
community will go through to develop a plan will be in the best                                                                 
interest of the children in the State of Alaska.                                                                                
Number 240                                                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS questioned, of the 56 school districts around the                                                              
state, how many have a plan in place.                                                                                           
MR. JOHNSON replied 47 school districts are either in the talking                                                               
or implementation stages of conflict resolution programs.                                                                       
SENATOR MACKIE asked Mr. Johnson, as a former school superintendent                                                             
in Alaska, whether he believes school districts could create a plan                                                             
with relative ease, and what effect such a plan will have on the                                                                
number of inservice training days.                                                                                              
MR. JOHNSON said he thinks it will vary from community to                                                                       
community.  In Kodiak, the borough mayor took responsibility to                                                                 
ensure that a plan was devised and printed for each individual                                                                  
community on Kodiak Island.  At Mount Edgecumbe, where he spent the                                                             
past three years, the remnants of a plan are being formalized and                                                               
staff are being trained.  SB 125 will detract from other training                                                               
activities that school districts would like to engage in, however                                                               
new staff can be trained during orientation, and retraining can be                                                              
done during a staff meeting rather than during an inservice day.                                                                
Number 281                                                                                                                      
SENATOR MACKIE assumed most school districts have a policy on, and                                                              
require training for, responses to bomb threats and fire alarms.                                                                
He questioned whether SB 125 will deviate from that response                                                                    
training or whether it can easily be added to an existing plan.                                                                 
MR. JOHNSON stated he believes crisis response could be another                                                                 
component added to existing plans that focus on natural disaster                                                                
response. He added most school districts already have plans to deal                                                             
with threats of explosives in schools but many schools have not                                                                 
established a plan to address the presence of a gunman in the                                                                   
Number 303                                                                                                                      
JOHN ANGAIAK, representing the Alaska Association of School Boards,                                                             
and a member of the Lower Yukon Kuskokwim School District, stressed                                                             
that the 135,000 students currently attending Alaska schools need                                                               
to feel comfortable in their learning environment.  He asked                                                                    
committee members to put SB 125 on the fast track and to pass the                                                               
There being no further testimony on SB 125, SENATOR MACKIE moved to                                                             
adopt the proposed CSSB 125(CRA)in lieu of the original bill.                                                                   
There being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                   
SENATOR PHILLIPS moved CSSB 125(CRA) out of committee with                                                                      
individual recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion                                                               
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
CHAIRMAN KELLY adjourned the meeting at 1:55 p.m.                                                                               

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