Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/20/2001 09:22 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                 
                          April 20, 2001                                                                                      
                             9:22 A.M.                                                                                        
SFC-01 # 80, Side A                                                                                                             
SFC 01 # 80, Side B                                                                                                             
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
Co-Chair Pete Kelly convened  the meeting at approximately 9:22 A.M.                                                            
Senator Dave Donley, Co-Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Pete Kelly, Co-Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Jerry Ward, Vice Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Loren Leman                                                                                                             
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Senator Gary Wilken                                                                                                             
Senator Alan Austerman                                                                                                          
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donald Olson                                                                                                            
Also Attending:                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGH FATE;  KRISTOPHER KNAUSS,  Staff, Senator  Pete                                                            
Kelly; BRUCE JOHNSON,  Deputy Commissioner of Education,  Department                                                            
of Education  & Early  Development;  WENDY REDMAN,  Vice  President,                                                            
Statewide Programs,  University of  Alaska, Vice-President;  CHARLES                                                            
MASON,  CEO,   North  Star  School   District;  CATHERINE   REARDON,                                                            
Director,   Division  of  Occupational   Licensing,  Department   of                                                            
Community and Economic Development.                                                                                             
Attending via Teleconference:                                                                                                 
Dr. Robinson                                                                                                                    
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
SB  86-TEACHER EMPLOYMENT &  SUBJECT EXPERTISE                                                                                  
A committee substitute was reported from Committee.                                                                             
SB 145-REGIONAL & VILLAGE PUB.SAFETY OFFICERS                                                                                   
A committee substitute was reported from Committee.                                                                             
HB  81-DENTISTS/DENTAL HYGIENISTS & ASSISTANTS                                                                                  
The bill was discussed and held in Committee.                                                                                   
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 145(JUD)                                                                                            
     "An  Act  relating  to  regional  and  village   public  safety                                                            
     officers;  relating  to the  expansion  of the  village  public                                                            
     safety  officer program to include  the provision of  probation                                                            
     and  parole supervision  services; and  relating to  retirement                                                            
     benefits for village public safety officers."                                                                              
Senator Green  moved to report work draft for SB 145,  #22,LS0584\X,                                                            
Cramer, 4/18/01,  out of Committee  with individual recommendations                                                             
and with the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                         
There being no objection,  CS SB 145 (FIN) MOVED from Committee with                                                            
a new  zero note  by Department  of Administration,  and note  #1 by                                                            
Department of Public Safety and #2 by Department of Corrections.                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 86(HES)                                                                                             
     "An Act relating to employment of teachers who have subject-                                                               
      matter expertise; and providing for an effective date."                                                                   
Co-Chair  Kelly  explained   that  changes  had  been  made  in  the                                                            
committee  substitute from  the Senate Health  Education and  Social                                                            
Services Committee version of the legislation.                                                                                  
Senator Green  moved to adopt the work draft, #22-LS0539\S,  Cramer,                                                            
4/19/01,  as the  version  before  the Committee.    There being  no                                                            
objection, it was ADOPTED as a working draft.                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Kelly  explained  that  Alaska  is facing  a  shortage  of                                                            
competent teachers that  can provide quality education for youth. SB
86  would  expand  the application  pool  by  including  those  with                                                            
subject  matter  experience  and  expertise  to  obtain  a  teaching                                                            
Under  the  legislation,  local  school  districts  would  have  the                                                            
authority to  hire persons holding  at least a baccalaureate  degree                                                            
from an accredited  institution.  Applicants must  major or minor in                                                            
the  area they  wish to  teach and  have at  least  five years  work                                                            
experience in their subject matter.                                                                                             
Co-Chair Kelly  continued, SB 86 would implement a  limited teaching                                                            
certificate  for  those subject  matter  teachers.   Subject  matter                                                            
teachers are authorized  to teach in a classroom pending they enroll                                                            
in a  post-baccalaureate  teaching  program.   Once  the program  is                                                            
completed,  subject matter  educators  are qualified  for a  regular                                                            
teaching  certificate.   The bill  would implement  safeguards  that                                                            
require subject matter  teachers to submit fingerprints and pay fees                                                            
for a criminal  history background check so that the  Department can                                                            
deem applicants suitable for employment.                                                                                        
KRISTOPHER  KNAUSS,  Staff,  Senator Pete  Kelly,  interjected  that                                                            
version "S" would require  that the curriculum be completed within a                                                            
two-year span.                                                                                                                  
Co-Chair Kelly explained  the difference between the "S" version and                                                            
the HESS version.   The "S" version would require  the courses first                                                            
and then  that person would  be able to teach.   He hoped  that this                                                            
could bring new  blood into the system.  He added  that the proposed                                                            
version would bring flexibility into the structure.                                                                             
BRUCE  JOHNSON,  Deputy Commissioner  of  Education,  Department  of                                                            
Education &  Early Development, commented  that the Department  does                                                            
support the  committee substitute.   He agreed that the legislation                                                             
does "think  outside the envelope"  as a means to get teachers  into                                                            
the classroom.  A limitation  exists in that the teachers would only                                                            
be able to teach subjects  in their field, a provision which will be                                                            
WENDY  REDMAN, Vice  President,  Statewide Programs,  University  of                                                            
Alaska,  Vice-President, commented  that the  legislation will  work                                                            
well  for  the University   with the  addition  of  a  couple  small                                                            
Amendment #1: #22-LS0539\S.2, Cramer, 4/19/01 [Copy on File].                                                                   
Senator Olson moved to adopt                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Kelly OBJECTED for discussion purposes.                                                                                
Senator  Olson  explained  that  Amendment   #1  would  address  the                                                            
significant  shortfall   of  teachers  in  the  districts  which  he                                                            
CHARLES  MASON,  CEO,  North  Star School  District,  spoke  to  the                                                            
amendment.    Rural  Alaska  has  always  had  a  shortage  of  good                                                            
teachers.  Each  year, it is difficult to fill all  open slots.  The                                                            
State  needs  to  do  all  that it  can  to  increase  the  pool  of                                                            
applicants  who can  address  the current  shortage.   Amendment  #1                                                            
would provide for retired teachers to return.                                                                                   
Senator  Green stated  that  she did  not  object to  that  concept,                                                            
however,  she  did  not  want  to  see  it  limited  it  to  certain                                                            
districts.   She emphasized  that this is  a statewide problem,  not                                                            
just  rural.  Senator  Green  noted that  she would  not support  an                                                            
"advantage",  suggesting  that district  wars would  result.     She                                                            
noted  a friendly  amendment  to a  concept recommended  by  Senator                                                            
Co-Chair Kelly explained  that Amendment #1 resulted from discussion                                                            
with  Senator  Olson.   He  feared  that the  larger  districts,  if                                                            
offered  the opportunity  to  rehire retired  people,  would do  it,                                                            
which would not bring new  people into the system.  He believed that                                                            
the amendment would address  needs in rural Alaska where the problem                                                            
is more acute.                                                                                                                  
Senator Green  respectfully disagreed  and noted that she  could not                                                            
support the  concept of the  amendment.   She reiterated that  there                                                            
have been many requests in the urban districts.                                                                                 
Co-Chair  Kelly stressed  that the  shortage in  the rural areas  is                                                            
much more acute.                                                                                                                
Senator Wilken commented  that he supported SB 86 as it was written.                                                            
With  the amendment,  the Committee  begins  to add  variables.   He                                                            
thought that  the amendment should  be the subject of its  own bill.                                                            
Co-Chair  Kelly pointed  out  that Senator  Leman does  have a  bill                                                            
currently resting in Senator Green's Committee.                                                                                 
Senator Olson  addressed comments by Senator Green,  reiterating the                                                            
intensity  of the need in  rural Alaska.   The retired teachers  are                                                            
the only ones "semi-available".                                                                                                 
Senator  Austerman aligned  his comments  with Senator  Wilken.   He                                                            
asked if the Committee would see the "other" bill this year.                                                                    
Senator Green  noted that  bill was scheduled  for this afternoon's                                                             
meeting; she assumed it would be moved out of Committee.                                                                        
Senator  Leman  explained  that Senator  Olson  had  approached  him                                                            
regarding  this concern.   He  agreed with  Senator  Green that  the                                                            
problem is not just a rural issue.                                                                                              
Co-Chair Kelly  concurred that the  issue is "hot".  He agreed  that                                                            
the  question  is  which  vehicle  should be  used  to  address  the                                                            
Senator Olson  respectfully withdrew  Amendment #1.  There  being no                                                            
objection, it was WITHDRAWN.                                                                                                    
Senator  Green offered  a motion  to report  CS SB  86 (FIN) out  of                                                            
Committee with individual  recommendations and with the accompanying                                                            
fiscal note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                      
CS  SB  86   (FIN)  MOVED  out  of   Committee  with  a   "do  pass"                                                            
recommendation and with  fiscal note #1 by Department of Education &                                                            
Early Development.                                                                                                              
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 81(FIN)                                                                                              
     "An Act extending  the termination date of the  Board of Dental                                                            
     Examiners;  relating  to  the  Board of  Dental  Examiners  and                                                            
     regulation  of  the  practice  of dentistry;  and  relating  to                                                            
     dental hygienists and dental assistants."                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGH FATE,  sponsor,  introduced HB  81.  He  stated                                                            
that until Title 8 of the  Alaska Statutes (AS), the Board of Dental                                                            
Examiners would  terminate on June  30, 2001.  A report released  by                                                            
the Legislative  Budget and Audit  Committee (LBA) recommended  that                                                            
the Legislature  extend  the Board's  date to June  30, 2005,  which                                                            
is  the  focus of  HB  81.   He  claimed  that  the  regulation  and                                                            
licensing  of qualified dentists  and hygienists  would benefit  the                                                            
public's safety and welfare.                                                                                                    
Representative  Fate  added  that HB  81  also addresses  issues  of                                                            
concern  to the  Dental Board  of Examiners  and  the Alaska  Dental                                                            
Society.  HB  81 attempts to clear  up some duplicate and  confusing                                                            
language, reduces  paperwork, expands  the definition of  dentistry,                                                            
addresses   dental   testing   and   equivalency    options,   Board                                                            
appointments  and increases  the allowable  civil fine penalty  that                                                            
the Board can impose.                                                                                                           
CATHERINE  REARDON, Director,  Division of  Occupational  Licensing,                                                            
Department  of Community  and Economic  Development,  addressed  the                                                            
statute changes.   She added that  there are items in the  bill that                                                            
were requested by the Dental Society.                                                                                           
Representative  Fate offered to go through the statute  changes.  He                                                            
detailed the changes in version B of the bill.  [Copy on File].                                                                 
In response  to Co-Chair Kelly, Representative  Fate explained  that                                                            
the State  of Alaska had  signed onto the  Central Licensing  Agency                                                            
regional examining  board.  Throughout the United  States, there are                                                            
regional examining  boards and each  of those boards have  different                                                            
Senator Wilken asked if  the legislation would affect the ability of                                                            
smaller communities  from hiring traveling  dentists on a  part-time                                                            
Representative  Fate did  not believe  that the  bill would  address                                                            
that concern.  There are  public health circumstances requiring them                                                            
to have  a license  to practice.   There are  areas that they  could                                                            
practice, however,  it would not be possible without  a waiver for a                                                            
private practitioner.                                                                                                           
Ms. Reardon  added that the process  of obtaining an Alaska  license                                                            
as a dentist is  complete and extensive and that this  bill does not                                                            
address that.   The only  people who are  exempt from the  licensure                                                            
are those that  work for the U.S.  Public Health Service  as federal                                                            
dentists.  She added that  the addition of the Central Regional test                                                            
to the  Western Regional  test would increase  the pool of  dentists                                                            
who can  move into  Alaska without  having to  retake their  boards.                                                            
That will make Alaska a more receptive State.                                                                                   
Representative  Fate  noted that  there  have been  retired  dentist                                                            
returning to  the State to work part-time.   The more dentists  that                                                            
are  licensed in  the State,  the  more likely  that  there will  be                                                            
dentists working on a part time basis.                                                                                          
Senator Wilken  referenced Page 3, Line 22 and 27,  asked what would                                                            
stop an agency from hiring part-time service.                                                                                   
Representative Fate responded  that if the person was a new licensed                                                            
dentist, nothing would stop them from working.                                                                                  
Ms. Reardon  explained  that the bill  would not  make it easier  or                                                            
more difficult  for  people in that  situation.   There are  several                                                            
other  requirements   besides  passing  the  test.    One  of  those                                                            
requirements  is  engaged in  continuous  active  clinical  practice                                                            
averaging  at least  20 hours  a week  for  each of  the five  years                                                            
immediately preceding the application.                                                                                          
Senator Wilken  believed that there  appears to be a very  real need                                                            
for temporary  dentists in the more  remote areas.  He asked  if the                                                            
bill could be held over for further consideration.                                                                              
Senator Olson commented  on the dental needs of the low-income rural                                                            
families.   He stressed the need for  qualified dentists  being sent                                                            
to the village areas.                                                                                                           
Senator  Green  noted  the number  of  doctors  and  dentists  doing                                                            
mission work all  over the world, while Alaska still  is not able to                                                            
get our own needs meet.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair Donley  voiced his appreciation to Representative  Fate for                                                            
sponsoring  the bill.  He  noted his concern  with the fiscal  note.                                                            
He thought  he had  requested that  the agencies  not use  numerical                                                            
abbreviations for other  fund sources and instead list everything in                                                            
layman terms.                                                                                                                   
Ms. Reardon  clarified that  message had not  gotten through  to the                                                            
Department.  She indicated that she could change the language.                                                                  
Senator Leman referenced Section 4.                                                                                             
SFC 01 # 80, Side B 10:12 AM                                                                                                    
Senator Leman commented  that the condition for dental hygienists is                                                            
worse than it is for dentists.                                                                                                  
Representative Fate acknowledged that to be true.                                                                               
Senator Austerman asked  if Representative Fate would favor changing                                                            
"shall" to "may".                                                                                                               
Representative  Fate  replied  that he  had  no objections  to  that                                                            
Senator  Leman  moved  to  adopt Amendment   #1, Page  2,  Line  16,                                                            
deleting "shall" and inserting  "may".  There being no objection, it                                                            
was ADOPTED.                                                                                                                    
Senator  Leman  moved  to  adopt Amendment   #2, Page  6,  Line  24,                                                            
deleting  "relating"  and  inserting  "related".    There  being  no                                                            
objection, it was ADOPTED.                                                                                                      
DR. ROBINSON,  [Testified  via  Teleconference],  offered to  answer                                                            
questions of the Committee.   He commented that the doctors have the                                                            
same concerns  regarding health care  providers and patient  access.                                                            
The  doctors  have been  working  two  years  with the  Division  of                                                            
Medical Assistance and have made progress.  The intent of the bill                                                              
is to make more acceptable standards so that a person that has                                                                  
taken the proper exams could apply for a license and get one.                                                                   
Co-Chair Kelly stated that HB 81 would be HELD in Committee for                                                                 
further consideration.                                                                                                          
Co-Chair Pete Kelly adjourned the meeting at 10:30 A.M.                                                                         

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