Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/11/2011 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 11, 2011                                                                                         
                           1:33 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                              
Senator Hollis French, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Bill Wielechowski, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Senator Joe Paskvan                                                                                                             
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 9                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to compulsory school attendance; and relating                                                                  
to the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor."                                                                    
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 2                                                                                              
Proposing amendments to the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State                                                                   
Legislature relating to the presiding officer pro tempore.                                                                      
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB   9                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RAISE COMP. SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AGE/TRUANCY                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DAVIS                                                                                                    
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       EDC, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
02/14/11       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/14/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/14/11       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
02/21/11       (S)       EDC RPT  3DP                                                                                           
02/21/11       (S)       DP: THOMAS, MEYER, STEVENS                                                                             
02/21/11       (S)       EDC AT 8:00 AM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/21/11       (S)       Moved SB 9 Out of Committee                                                                            
02/21/11       (S)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/11/11       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
BILL: SCR  2                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: UNIFORM RULES: PRESIDING OFFICER PRO TEM                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DAVIS                                                                                                    
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
02/10/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/10/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/10/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/15/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/15/11       (S)       Moved CSSCR  2(STA) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/15/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/16/11       (S)       STA RPT CS 1DP 1DNP 3NR    SAME TITLE                                                                  
02/16/11       (S)       DP: PASKVAN                                                                                            
02/16/11       (S)       DNP: GIESSEL                                                                                           
02/16/11       (S)       NR: WIELECHOWSKI, MEYER, KOOKESH                                                                       
03/11/11       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
TOM OBERMEYER, Staff to Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 9 for sponsor, Senator Davis.                                                                
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 9.                                                                                          
JOHN ALCANTRA                                                                                                                   
Government Relations Director                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 9.                                                                             
JENNIFER TAYLOR, representing herself                                                                                           
Southeast Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SB 9.                                                                          
JOHN STEINER                                                                                                                    
Anchorage School Board                                                                                                          
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 9.                                                                             
MARTHA FLEMMING                                                                                                                 
School Counselor                                                                                                                
Seward, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 9.                                                                             
LES MORSE                                                                                                                       
Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                             
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified that he was available to answer                                                                 
questions regarding SB 9.                                                                                                       
ELIZABETH NUDELMAN, Director                                                                                                    
School Finance and Facilities                                                                                                   
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 9.                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:33:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLIS   FRENCH  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at  1:33  p.m.  Senators  Paskvan,                                                               
Wielechowski, Coghill,  and French  were present  at the  call to                                                               
        SB   9-RAISE COMP. SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AGE/TRUANCY                                                                    
1:33:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 9.                                                                               
1:34:10 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM OBERMEYER, staff to Senator Bettye Davis, sponsor of SB 9,                                                                  
introduced the bill on behalf of the sponsor, speaking to the                                                                   
following sponsor statement:                                                                                                    
     This   bill  changes   the  Alaska   compulsory  school                                                                    
     attendance ages from 7-16 to  6-18. At the same time it                                                                    
     necessarily    amends   the    criminal   statute    of                                                                    
     contributing  to the  delinquency of  a minor  from the                                                                    
     maximum age  16 to 18.  The legislative intent  of this                                                                    
     bill  is  to  require  all  students  to  start  school                                                                    
     earlier when  their brains  are growing  and developing                                                                    
     at a dramatic  rate from birth to age 7  and to stay in                                                                    
     school  long  enough  to  graduate.  This  bill  allows                                                                    
     earlier  identification   of  children   with  learning                                                                    
     disabilities   and  more   time   to  take   successful                                                                    
     corrective action. This bill  will not preclude parents                                                                    
     from  homeschooling  children,   or  using  charter  or                                                                    
     alternative  schools,  or  any   other  of  the  twelve                                                                    
     enumerated exceptions to  compulsory education under AS                                                                    
     14.30.010(b),  including  completion  of  grade  12  or                                                                    
     graduation from a secondary school before age 18.                                                                          
     The  Alaska compulsory  school age  statute  is out  of                                                                    
     date  with modern  educational  practice and  thinking.                                                                    
     The  law has  not changed  since territorial  days when                                                                    
     few  children  attended  school  beyond  8th  grade  or                                                                    
     bothered  to  graduate,  because   most  jobs  did  not                                                                    
     require  much   education.  The  majority   of  Alaskan                                                                    
     students today  are already  in school  by age  six and                                                                    
     many  by   the  minimum   age  five.  Head   Start  and                                                                    
     prekindergarten  programs  are growing  in  popularity.                                                                    
     The  state  already   funds  a  pilot  pre-kindergarten                                                                    
     program  and SB  6 this  year proposes  funding such  a                                                                    
     program statewide.                                                                                                         
     The 1852  Massachusetts became the first  state to pass                                                                    
     compulsory  school attendance  laws,  and  by 1918  all                                                                    
     states  required  children  to  receive  an  education.                                                                    
     Today every  state and  territory requires  children to                                                                    
     enroll in  public or private  education or to  be home-                                                                    
     schooled. Thirty-two  states require students  to begin                                                                    
     their education by  age 6 or 5 and to  remain in school                                                                    
     until  16 or  older.  Twenty-four  states and  American                                                                    
     Samoa  set  the minimum  at  age  5. All  children  are                                                                    
     required to  continue their  education into  their high                                                                    
     school   years,   with   twenty  states   setting   the                                                                    
     compulsory  cutoff age  at 18;  eleven at  age 17;  and                                                                    
     nineteen  states   including  Alaska  and   the  Virgin                                                                    
     Islands at age 16.                                                                                                         
     By  increasing the  school attendance  age to  18, this                                                                    
     bill  should  discourage  earlier dropouts  and  reduce                                                                    
     juvenile  crime,  teen  pregnancy  and  other  at  risk                                                                    
     behaviors. Studies  have found that students  without a                                                                    
     diploma earn  less than  75% of  those with  a diploma;                                                                    
     they are  more likely to  live in poverty, go  to jail,                                                                    
     and have health problems.                                                                                                  
     The  Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development                                                                    
     reported  8,245 students  or  67.7%  graduated in  2010                                                                    
     while 3,186 dropped out. The  graduation rate of Alaska                                                                    
     Native students  was 55.4%,  a group  which experienced                                                                    
     twice  the dropout  rate of  all students.  These rates                                                                    
     remain well  below the  national average.  The National                                                                    
     Education  Association's first  priority two  years ago                                                                    
     in its  "12-Point Action Plan  for Reducing  the School                                                                    
     Dropout Rate"  was to  "mandate high  school graduation                                                                    
     or  equivalency as  compulsory for  everyone below  the                                                                    
     age of 21." It reported:                                                                                                   
     "Just as  we established  compulsory attendance  to the                                                                    
     age of 16  or 17 in the beginning of  the 20th century,                                                                    
     it is  appropriate and critical  to eradicate  the idea                                                                    
     of  'dropping  out'  before  achieving  a  diploma.  To                                                                    
     compete in  the 21st century,  all of our  citizens, at                                                                    
     minimum, need a high school education."                                                                                    
1:39:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS,  sponsor of SB 9, said each  time this bill                                                               
is  introduced  and  heard  it picks  up  more  support.  Parents                                                               
initially worried that  students who didn't want to  be in school                                                               
would  disrupt  the  learning   atmosphere,  but  procedures  are                                                               
already  in place  to address  those  concerns. Furthermore,  the                                                               
bill doesn't  preclude parents from choosing  alternative schools                                                               
and it doesn't require students to  remain in school until age 18                                                               
if they  already have the credits  to graduate. This is  just one                                                               
more tool  to encourage  students to get  a high  school diploma.                                                               
The bill has good support from educators.                                                                                       
CHAIR FRENCH  said his questions  were answered in  the education                                                               
committee,  but what  struck him  was  that under  current law  a                                                               
child may walk  away from school with no consequences  on the day                                                               
that  he  or  she  turns   16.  That's  a  terrible  message  for                                                               
policymakers to send because someone  who leaves school at age 16                                                               
faces  a dark  future  of  bad jobs  and  bad living  conditions.                                                               
That's  just  far   too  young  for  a  child  to   make  such  a                                                               
determination. He noted  that he's received about  a dozen emails                                                               
expressing concern  that this bill would  somehow keep disruptive                                                               
kids  in  school, but  there  are  already mechanisms  to  remove                                                               
disruptive students  from the classroom  and that  doesn't change                                                               
under this bill.                                                                                                                
1:43:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL said  he'd like  to  know what  happened in  the                                                               
truancy  court  case in  northwest  Alaska  and what  enforcement                                                               
might look like if this were to become law.                                                                                     
SENATOR PASKVAN  questioned what  military jobs are  available to                                                               
people who are at the bottom of the recruitment list.                                                                           
SENATOR  DAVIS said  the  Army  and the  Air  Force have  stopped                                                               
accepting young people  who have a GED. A high  school diploma is                                                               
now a requirement  to join the military and this  bill would help                                                               
those 16-year-old  dropouts stay in  school long enough to  get a                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH said  it's important to know that  walking away from                                                               
school at age 16 leaves a person with very few choices.                                                                         
1:45:55 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN ALCANTRA, Government  Relations Director, NEA-Alaska, stated                                                               
that  he   represents  about   13,000  public   school  employees                                                               
statewide. He related  that he had reviewed the 55  years of NEA-                                                               
Alaska  delegate assemblies.  This  is where  the 13,000  members                                                               
elect about  400 delegates  from across  the state  to come  to a                                                               
meeting in  Anchorage and set  policies for any given  year. When                                                               
he  looked for  information about  this type  of legislation,  he                                                               
learned that  it dates back  to 1983.  The good thing  about this                                                               
bill is that  NEA-Alaska can endorse an actual bill  and not just                                                               
the concept,  because it was  introduced early.  This legislation                                                               
is critically important.  The task force drafted  a beginning age                                                               
of five  and ending at age  18 or obtaining a  diploma. Obviously                                                               
the  bill has  a long  way  to go  but  he wants  to state  NEA's                                                               
support. This is backed by almost 13,000 peers statewide.                                                                       
JENNIFER TAYLOR,  representing herself, said she  was speaking on                                                               
behalf  of  parents  and  students.   She  has  a  background  in                                                               
education  and her  concern is  that keeping  students in  school                                                               
when they  don't want to be  there is a catalyst  for disruption.                                                               
She noted  that her  son recently dropped  out because  he didn't                                                               
like the disruption.                                                                                                            
Fiscal allocation  isn't sufficient to administer  this bill, she                                                               
said.  As  a  parent  she  is concerned  about  making  a  parent                                                               
criminally negligent  if they are  unable to keep their  child in                                                               
school. Students often  don't drop out until October  and by then                                                               
correspondence study  isn't available. Also,  many correspondence                                                               
courses  require the  student  to have  a  computer and  Internet                                                               
access, which isn't always possible.  Counselors would need to be                                                               
available daily to  help the students and  currently many schools                                                               
don't have even one counselor.  A counselor is never available to                                                               
correspondence students.                                                                                                        
1:54:22 PM                                                                                                                    
She asked  if the high schools  would have the resources  to take                                                               
students  back once  they  have a  GED.  Alaska offers  disparate                                                               
schooling based on urban and rural residency.                                                                                   
1:55:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH asked where she was from.                                                                                          
MS. TAYLOR responded she is from Southeast.                                                                                     
1:55:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN STEINER,  Anchorage School Board,  said they  have supported                                                               
the age requirement  changes for some time.  He acknowledged that                                                               
schools need to be more relevant  for students but they also need                                                               
to stop sending the message  that it's acceptable to leave school                                                               
at age  16. Career, technical,  and vocational  opportunities are                                                               
being  increased  to keep  students  in  school. He  thinks  that                                                               
because students know  they can leave at age 16,  they think they                                                               
don't have to apply themselves. Some  may stay longer but by then                                                               
they may  have done so  much damage that they'll  have difficulty                                                               
graduating at age  18. It would help if they  knew from the start                                                               
that they were obligated to stay in until graduation or age 18.                                                                 
The  Anchorage School  Board has  been on  record for  many years                                                               
stating that it's  not acceptable to leave school at  age 16. The                                                               
Association of Alaska School Boards  also believes that this bill                                                               
is consistent  with the goal of  decreasing the age of  entry and                                                               
increasing  the age  of exit.  This would,  however, require  the                                                               
schools to respond appropriately.                                                                                               
1:59:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MARTHA FLEMMING,  school counselor, Seward, said  it's disruptive                                                               
having students start  school at age 7 because  early literacy is                                                               
important for graduation rates.  Parents who allow their students                                                               
to leave  school at age  16 give  these students more  power than                                                               
they are ready to  use wisely. While a student may  make a lot of                                                               
money in their  first job as a  16 or 17 year old,  this won't be                                                               
the  case by  the time  they're 20.  Passing this  law will  help                                                               
parents keep  their kids in  school but  it will put  pressure on                                                               
the schools.                                                                                                                    
2:02:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony.  He noted the $14.5 million                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked for  confirmation that  the bill  would be                                                               
heard again.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH confirmed that it would be heard again.                                                                            
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development (DEED), said he was available for questions.                                                                  
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  how  many dropouts  are  age sixteen  and                                                               
2:04:40 PM                                                                                                                    
ELIZABETH  NUDELMAN,  Director,  School Finance  and  Facilities,                                                               
Department of  Education and Early  Development (DEED),  said the                                                               
fiscal  note  took  a  one-year  look  at  the  total  number  of                                                               
dropouts, so the  department would need to  review information to                                                               
answer that question.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  COGHILL  asked  how  many  students  have  been  pursued                                                               
already  for leaving  school under  age 16.  The question  is how                                                               
difficult this will be to implement.                                                                                            
MR.  MORSE  said he  doesn't  know  how  each  of the  53  school                                                               
districts has pursued this, and  DEED doesn't have access to that                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH  said he  would  get  the information  through  the                                                               
Department of Law (DOL).                                                                                                        
2:06:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted an  article in  the bill  packet that                                                               
says a dropout over a  lifetime costs over $118,000 in government                                                               
expenditures. He asked if there is comparable data for Alaska.                                                                  
MR. MORSE answered he wasn't aware of any Alaska-specific data.                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if he  had any  reason to believe  that those                                                               
numbers are incorrect.                                                                                                          
MR. MORSE replied no, but he could not substantiate them either.                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN asked  if there  is scientific  data that  shows                                                               
that decision-making  by 15-16 year  olds is not  mature, because                                                               
they don't have full brain development.                                                                                         
2:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. MORSE responded  he didn't have enough  information to answer                                                               
the question.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if the  intent is to keep 16-year-olds from                                                               
making bad decisions, like dropping out of school.                                                                              
MR. MORSE said he believes that's  the intent of the bill, but he                                                               
can't comment  on the brain  development of 16-year-olds.  He has                                                               
worked with some who make good decisions and some bad.                                                                          
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if the  administration supports  the                                                               
MR. MORSE  replied neither the  administration and nor  DEED have                                                               
taken a position.                                                                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he'd be  interested in knowing what the                                                               
governor and the commissioner think.                                                                                            
MR. MORSE reiterated that they  haven't taken a position but he'd                                                               
take the question back to DEED.                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH emphasized all the members want an answer to that.                                                                 
2:11:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  said it's  a  capacity  question. The  cost  of                                                               
keeping students  in school will require  increased services from                                                               
the school districts.                                                                                                           
MR.  MORSE said  the  fiscal  note reflects  the  cost for  those                                                               
students to pay for needed services.  When a student stays in the                                                               
system,  the foundation  formula will  give that  funding to  the                                                               
2:13:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  calculated and wondered  if there is a  fiscal plan                                                               
that depends  on not  having those children  in school  after age                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted the  testimony that  forcing students                                                               
to stay in school could lead  to disruption and said he'd like to                                                               
know the department's position on that.                                                                                         
MR.  MORSE said  he believes  that there  are disruptive  kids at                                                               
every  grade level.  Potentially there  would be  more disruptive                                                               
students because they're forced to  stay but he believes that the                                                               
school is  obligated to deal  with those students.  Some students                                                               
at age 17 are  able to find other options. Whether  or not it's a                                                               
good or bad decision to leave school, he can't comment on.                                                                      
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what  analysis the department has done                                                               
on this bill, since it represents a major shift in policy.                                                                      
MR.  MORSE said  the analysis  has centered  on the  fiscal note.                                                               
Different  districts will  be affected  differently depending  on                                                               
how they  address truancy. He  has worked  in the both  the Lower                                                               
Yukon and Juneau school districts,  and is aware that enforcement                                                               
of the current law is different in each district.                                                                               
2:17:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH   said  since  some   states  have   increased  the                                                               
compulsory age, there is probably  research about the effects. It                                                               
would be interesting to see  what happens when the attendance law                                                               
is changed.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR COGHILL  said in the  fiscal note he didn't  see anything                                                               
that reflected the lower age change, from seven to six.                                                                         
MS. NUDELMAN said  they didn't account for the  lower age because                                                               
most six-year-olds do enter either kindergarten or first grade.                                                                 
2:19:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH referred to page 2,  where the current law says that                                                               
every child between age seven and 16 must attend school.                                                                        
SENATOR COGHILL noted that since  the districts will enforce this                                                               
law, he is seriously interested  in how the enforcement will play                                                               
MR. MORSE said they have  discussed enforcement with districts in                                                               
Western Alaska.  A good  many have  pursued enforcement  and they                                                               
have  been successful  but  it takes  a  lot of  work  to get  it                                                               
through the system. Lower Kuskokwim  has seen success. The Juneau                                                               
School District  worked to create  a local ordinance  around this                                                               
issue, and  there is now  an official  who can issue  tickets for                                                               
truancy. However, it is handled differently in different areas.                                                                 
2:22:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if the administration  sees a benefit                                                               
to the bill.                                                                                                                    
MR.  MORSE  said  the  administration   believes  it's  good  for                                                               
students to be in school regardless of age.                                                                                     
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if that would extend to pre-K.                                                                       
MR. MORSE said he's speaking to  the ages that DEED has authority                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if DEED supports the  lower age limit                                                               
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
MR.  MORSE responded  the district  has not  taken a  position on                                                               
this bill.                                                                                                                      
2:23:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PASKVAN asked  if  SB 9  promotes  Alaska becoming  more                                                               
MR. MORSE  said he couldn't  speak to  whether it would  make the                                                               
state more competitive.                                                                                                         
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked how competitive any  of us would be  if we                                                               
dropped out at age 16.                                                                                                          
MR.  MORSE  replied the  issue  is  who  is responsible  for  the                                                               
decision.  This   law  is  a  way   to  get  at  that,   and  the                                                               
administration  hasn't  made  a  decision.  However,  staying  in                                                               
school is always a good thing.                                                                                                  
2:25:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN asked  if the current dropout rate for  16 or 17-                                                               
year-olds is acceptable.                                                                                                        
MR.  MORSE  responded he'd  like  to  see everyone  graduate  but                                                               
that's separate from this legislation                                                                                           
SENATOR  PASKVAN noted  they need  to be  in school  in order  to                                                               
MR. MORSE said he agreed.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if the  administration believes  the                                                               
state should abolish all age requirements for education.                                                                        
MR. MORSE answered  he doesn't believe that; he's  only said they                                                               
have not taken a position on SB 9.                                                                                              
2:26:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  noted that there  are reasons for the  laws that                                                               
allow a  student to emancipate at  age 16. It appears  that under                                                               
the school age  rule, the student would be  responsible for their                                                               
criminal behavior.                                                                                                              
SENATOR PASKVAN asked the number of emancipations that occur.                                                                   
CHAIR FRENCH said we need a DOL person to answer that.                                                                          
2:27:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  read from  a  document  from the  National                                                               
Council  of State  Educators which  says  evidence suggests  that                                                               
raising  the  maximum compulsory  school  age  above 16  curtails                                                               
dropout rates  and produces other  positive results. He  asked if                                                               
the the administration agreed or disagreed with that statement.                                                                 
MR. MORSE responded that would  require reviewing the research to                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH noted Mr. Morse  must have sensed that the committee                                                               
wants direction from the administration.                                                                                        
2:29:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DAVIS pointed  out  that it's  impossible  for the  DEED                                                               
staff  to provide  some of  the information  the committee  asked                                                               
for. The bill simply seeks  to increase the compulsory attendance                                                               
age to  18. Age six  is a compromise  for the starting  age; many                                                               
educators would prefer age five.                                                                                                
Once the bill  is law and students and parents  know they have to                                                               
stay until  they graduate,  many will graduate  prior to  age 18.                                                               
This  is not  a magic  bullet, but  it helps  by keeping  kids in                                                               
school later. Parents  still have a right to pull  their kids out                                                               
of school but  SB 9 says the  parent has to do  this. Current law                                                               
gives this  authority to  a student when  he/she reaches  age 16.                                                               
She doesn't understand  why the administration refuses  to take a                                                               
position on the bill.                                                                                                           
She said  we're hurting our kids  the way things are.  The Juneau                                                               
School  District is  the  only  one that  has  employed a  truant                                                               
officer; it's a local decision. This  bill is one tool to cut the                                                               
dropout rate.                                                                                                                   
2:36:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced he would hold SB 9 in committee.                                                                         
        SCR  2-UNIFORM RULES: PRESIDING OFFICER PRO TEM                                                                     
2:36:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH announced  the consideration  of  SCR 2,  proposing                                                               
amendments to the  Uniform Rules of the  Alaska State Legislature                                                               
relating to  the presiding  officer pro  tempore.   [CSSCR 2(STA)                                                               
was before the committee.]                                                                                                      
SENATOR BETTYE  DAVIS, sponsor of  SCR 2, informed  the committee                                                               
that Mr. Obermeyer would introduce the bill.                                                                                    
TOM OBERMEYER,  staff to  Senator Davis, sponsor  of SCR  2, said                                                               
the committee  substitute (CS)  amends language  in Section  4 on                                                               
page 2.  The original bill  unintentionally placed  the presiding                                                               
officer pro tempore before the  majority leader in the absence of                                                               
the regular  presiding officer.  The CS  establishes that  in the                                                               
absence of  both the regular  presiding officer and  the majority                                                               
leader, the  presiding officer pro tempore  elected under Uniform                                                               
Rule 1(b) shall preside over sessions of the house.                                                                             
The result  of the amendment to  Section 4 is that  the presiding                                                               
officer pro tempore elected at the  start of the first session of                                                               
a  Legislature,  in  addition  to the  duties  of  the  presiding                                                               
officer pro tempore set out in  Rule 1(b), will continue for both                                                               
sessions  to serve  as a  backup in  the absence  of the  regular                                                               
presiding officer and majority leader.                                                                                          
MR.  OBERMEYER said  the  sponsor  statement clearly  establishes                                                               
that  the amendment  to  Uniform  Rule 1  changes  the titles  of                                                               
temporary presiding  officers to  presiding officers  pro tempore                                                               
and permanent  presiding officers to regular  presiding officers.                                                               
These changes  to the  Uniform Rules  essentially create  a third                                                               
permanent  position  in  the   leadership  without  changing  the                                                               
leadership structure, he said.                                                                                                  
2:39:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  summarized that the  bill makes two  basic changes:                                                               
1)  It   replaces  the  temporary  presiding   officer  with  the                                                               
president pro  tempore and  2) it  creates a  permanent president                                                               
pro tempore.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVIS agreed;  it removes the temporary  aspect and makes                                                               
the   president  pro   tempore  a   permanent  position   in  the                                                               
leadership. She stated that the  committee packets should contain                                                               
information on  the number  of states that  have this.  She added                                                               
that this  new position would  make it  easier for women  to move                                                               
into the  leadership, but  it doesn't take  any duties  away from                                                               
the current leadership positions.                                                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH  noted that  Doug Gardiner  was available  to answer                                                               
2:43:10 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  observed  that the  majority  leader  currently                                                               
fills that position.                                                                                                            
SENATOR DAVIS agreed and added  that the majority leader is still                                                               
second  on  the list.  This  bill  just  adds a  third  permanent                                                               
leadership position.  She offered to provide  information on what                                                               
other states  have done with  this position  if it wasn't  in the                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH  said his  packet  was  very thorough.  Finding  no                                                               
further  questions,  he   announced  he  would  hold   SCR  2  in                                                               
2:44:39 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair French adjourned the meeting at 2:44 p.m.                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects