Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

04/09/2014 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 197(EDC) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    HB 197-LITERACY PROGRAM                                                                                 
8:10:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  197, "An  Act requiring  the establishment  of a                                                               
reading  program  in  school districts  for  grades  kindergarten                                                               
through three;  providing for student  retention in  grade three;                                                               
and providing for a report on  the reading program and on student                                                               
8:11:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  moved to adopt the  committee substitute                                                               
(CS) for  HB 197,  labeled 28-LS0515\O,  Mischel, 2/21/14  as the                                                               
working  document.   There  being  no  objection, Version  O  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
8:12:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GABRIELLE   LEDOUX,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
acknowledged her sponsorship of HB  197 and deferred to staff for                                                               
presentation of HB 197, Version O.                                                                                              
8:12:36 AM                                                                                                                    
LISA  VAUGHT,  Staff,  Representative  Gabrielle  LeDoux,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, presented  the  committee  substitute for  HB
197,  Version O,  paraphrasing from  a  prepared document,  which                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     HB  197 requires  local school  districts to  establish                                                                    
     intensive  reading programs  from kindergarten  through                                                                    
     3rd grade with  the specific goal of  ensuring that all                                                                    
     students are reading proficiently by grade three.                                                                          
     Research  has  demonstrated  that during  K  through  3                                                                    
     students  are learning  to read,  after  that they  are                                                                    
     reading to learn.  What  this means is that if students                                                                    
     are not reading proficiently in  grade four and up they                                                                    
     will  fall  farther and  farther  behind  each year  as                                                                    
     their lessons become  ever more reading focused.   If a                                                                    
     student  cannot read  their science  lesson or  history                                                                    
     book  they will  not be  able to  successfully complete                                                                    
     these classes and more importantly  not learn the basic                                                                    
     knowledge  and skills  required for  the 21st  century.                                                                    
     This is  why literacy-based  programs are  so essential                                                                    
     at this stage of education.                                                                                                
     HB 197 requires school  districts to be accountable for                                                                    
     the performance  of their students.   It  achieves this                                                                    
     by  requiring  them  to publish  annual  reports  about                                                                    
     student   progress,  their   policies  and   procedures                                                                    
     regarding  how  students  are promoted  from  grade  to                                                                    
     grade, the  number and percentage of  students promoted                                                                    
     for good cause, and details  of any school board policy                                                                    
     changes regarding promotion.                                                                                               
     HB  197  lays  out a  literacy-based  promotion  policy                                                                    
     specifically  designed  for  students  to  successfully                                                                    
     demonstrate their ability to  read, before entering 4th                                                                    
     grade.    A   literacy-based  promotion  policy  forces                                                                    
     schools  to organize  their  curriculum around  reading                                                                    
     instruction,  so  that  schools  focus  more  time  and                                                                    
     effort    on   reading    and   encouraging    parental                                                                    
     involvement.  HB 197  stresses that schools incorporate                                                                    
     a vast  array of teaching strategies  and interventions                                                                    
     and  utilize  all  the  resources  at  their  disposal,                                                                    
     especially parental involvement.                                                                                           
     HB 197 will identify  students with significant reading                                                                    
     deficiencies early and create  systems to address these                                                                    
     before they  get to  the critical  stage of  3rd grade.                                                                    
     We  want  to avoid  a  child  getting to  third  grade,                                                                    
     taking their  SBA's and are  suddenly discovered  to be                                                                    
     below minimum  standards.  HB 197  forces the teachers,                                                                    
     the parents,  THE ADULTS, to focus  on student literacy                                                                    
     before it  becomes a problem.   It  establishes reading                                                                    
     programs early  on and  reinforces them  throughout the                                                                    
     years so  that by the time  they come to 3rd  grade the                                                                    
     students are prepared.                                                                                                     
     Currently  the  Anchorage  School District  holds  back                                                                    
     only  0.05% of  the  student  population.   Nationally,                                                                    
     Alaska  rates  51st  in low-income  4th  grade  reading                                                                    
     scores,   tied   with    inner-city   Washington,   DC.                                                                    
     According to  the NEA,  in 2012,  Alaska spent  more on                                                                    
     Education  than any  other state  yet still  managed to                                                                    
     rank  near  the bottom.    Nearly  90% of  high  school                                                                    
     dropouts are below proficient in  reading in 3rd grade.                                                                    
     There is  a strong association between  dropping out of                                                                    
     high  school  and  lower  income,  more  dependence  on                                                                    
     public  assistance  programs and  higher  incarceration                                                                    
     rates.  HB  197 is not about business  as usual, retain                                                                    
     and  repeat, this  is  about  early identification  and                                                                    
     intensive intervention and instruction.                                                                                    
     This is  not a punishment,  retention is not  the goal.                                                                    
     It is  merely one  segment of  a strong  combination of                                                                    
     instruction  and intervention  techniques coupled  with                                                                    
     test-based   promotion    that   makes    the   program                                                                    
     successful.   The  intent  of  HB 197  is  not to  hold                                                                    
     students back but  to give them the  tools necessary to                                                                    
     become a prosperous, productive member of society.                                                                         
8:16:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  observed   that  the  Anchorage  school                                                               
district has  already been  on board with  this concept  for some                                                               
time.   Awareness regarding the  importance of early  literacy is                                                               
not a new  concept, she said, stressing the need  for children to                                                               
arrive at  school ready  to read  at the  same level  for maximum                                                               
benefit throughout the grades.   She said it would be interesting                                                               
to know if  those children who have not learned  to read by third                                                               
grade,   manifesting  as   social  ills   and  incarceration   in                                                               
adulthood,  show  a  connection  to a  lack  of  early  childhood                                                               
education, as well.                                                                                                             
8:17:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS interjected that the data  would be good to have and                                                               
could  possibly  be  obtained  from  the  [Department  of  Public                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  said   that  longitudinal  studies,  as                                                               
compiled  by the  Head Start  agency, indicate  the relevance  of                                                               
early literacy/learning  and the  connection to  societal success                                                               
as an  adult.   She indicated  a lack  of interest  in supporting                                                               
Version O, offering her view that it represents redundancy.                                                                     
8:19:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  pointed  out  the  need  to  employ  many                                                               
approaches, and  said that  Version O  will provide  another tool                                                               
for addressing early childhood education.                                                                                       
8:19:27 AM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  BROWN,  Staff,  Representative Gabrielle  LeDoux,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  on behalf of  the prime sponsor,  pointed out                                                               
that Version O  is a measure to specifically address  the area of                                                               
early reading literacy.                                                                                                         
8:20:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND said  Alaska has a huge  waiting list for                                                               
early  education  programs  and  the  legislature  has  not  been                                                               
financially supportive.   The data indicating  the importance for                                                               
early learning  already exists.   Unfortunately, she  offered her                                                               
belief  that  without  financial   support  for  providing  early                                                               
literacy programs,  children are often in  homes providing little                                                               
exposure to  books.   One program  receiving state  funding, Best                                                               
Beginnings [Alaska],  has compiled data specific  to high quality                                                               
early   childhood  education,   she   offered,   and  said   this                                                               
information  should not  be ignored.   She  asked about  a fiscal                                                               
MS. VAUGHT responded that a fiscal note is being developed.                                                                     
8:23:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  offered  her  belief  that  debating  the                                                               
merits for early  childhood education is not  relevant to Version                                                               
O.   She pointed out  that waning literacy scores  are identified                                                               
with families  at every income  level and social strata,  and are                                                               
not restricted  to low income  households or Head  Start eligible                                                               
8:23:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS opened public testimony on HB 197.                                                                                 
8:24:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CARI  MILLER,  Policy  Director,  Foundation  for  Excellence  in                                                               
Education, state  support for  HB 197 and  said an  effective K-3                                                               
{kindergarten  to   third]  grade  policy  is   important.    The                                                               
fundamental  principles should  include: kindergarten  screening;                                                               
parental notification  when deficits are  identified; development                                                               
of an  individual reading plan  designed in conjunction  with the                                                               
parents;  third  grade  assessment  to  determine  the  need  for                                                               
intervention/retention; possible  exemption for special  needs or                                                               
students  with  ESL  challenges  and  options  for  demonstrating                                                               
proficiency to  allow promotion;  and a retention  component that                                                               
requires  an   additional  year  of  experience,   which  may  be                                                               
satisfied by  attendance at  a summer  reading camp.   Identified                                                               
students  will  be  monitored  frequently  to  ensure  that  each                                                               
individual  is receiving  the  attention  and support  necessary.                                                               
Nine  states have  adopted these  fundamental principles  and the                                                               
data indicates  broad success  with literacy  percentages showing                                                               
significant  increases,  and   attainment  of  benchmark  reading                                                               
achievements.   Florida  has been  using this  technique for  ten                                                               
years, she finished.                                                                                                            
8:34:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  requested the  supporting data  that was                                                               
mentioned and  asked about further  history regarding the  use of                                                               
the program.                                                                                                                    
MS. MILLER  responded that  Florida has  been using  this program                                                               
for just over a decade and other states for three years or less.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND requested a cost analysis.                                                                              
MS.  MILLER  indicated that  Florida  has  repurposed funding  to                                                               
cover the costs.   The drop-out prevention  funding was earmarked                                                               
for   summer   reading   camps.      Additionally,   professional                                                               
development monies  were redirected  to support the  K-3 literacy                                                               
program.  She offered to provide further financial information.                                                                 
8:38:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said many  Alaskan school districts already                                                               
practice a  number of these  fundamentals, but not  the retention                                                               
aspect,  and asked  whether the  elimination of  social promotion                                                               
alone might create a fiscal burden.                                                                                             
MS.  MILLER  agreed  that  having   a  child  in  school  for  an                                                               
additional year does  add cost.  However, she  explained, to fund                                                               
one  additional   school  year  is  cost   effective  considering                                                               
societal costs  to support  a student who  develops into  a drop-                                                               
out;  often  requiring  welfare,  food stamps  and  other  social                                                               
8:42:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  noted  the   number  of  the  mentioned                                                               
fundamentals that  would include  a cost  factor, such  as summer                                                               
reading  camps or  extending the  school day,  week, or  year for                                                               
identified students.   She  agreed that  retaining a  child could                                                               
add  cost to  a school  district,  and suggested  the same  money                                                               
could  be as  useful if  directed towards  highly effective  pre-                                                               
school programs.   Further, she asked what the ten  year cost has                                                               
been  for  operating  the summer  reading  camps,  small  reading                                                               
groups, and day/week/year extension programs.                                                                                   
MS.  MILLER   offered  to  provide  further   information.    She                                                               
acknowledged that these aspects  of the fundamental program carry                                                               
a  cost and  indicated  how Florida  handled  the redirection  of                                                               
funding to meet the need;  repurposing of the drop-out prevention                                                               
funds has been the primary source.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND noted  that with the fourth  year of flat                                                               
or reduced  school funding  in Alaska, many  of the  schools have                                                               
closed  summer   programs,  which   were  intended   as  drop-out                                                               
prevention measures.                                                                                                            
8:44:58 AM                                                                                                                    
BOB  GRIFFIN,  Volunteer,  Alaska   Policy  Forum,  testified  in                                                               
support of HB 197, paraphrasing  from a prepared statement, which                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     As a longtime advocate  for improving public education,                                                                    
     HB 197 is the number  one priority for legislation that                                                                    
     I'm supporting  in Juneau this  year.   Early childhood                                                                    
     literacy is  at crisis proportions  in Alaska.   In the                                                                    
     2013 NAEP  test scores  for low-income kids  we dropped                                                                    
     to 51st  (behind low-income  kids in  DC) in  4th grade                                                                    
     reading.   Our  upper and  middle income  kids are  not                                                                    
     doing much  better.   In 2013 they  dropped to  49th in                                                                    
     NAEP testing when we were 44th just 10 years ago.                                                                          
     I have  attended dozens  of K-12  education conferences                                                                    
     all  over the  US and  I have  not come  across a  more                                                                    
     effective  method of  improving  student outcomes  than                                                                    
     legislation  setting  the  standards  for  minimum  3rd                                                                    
     grade literacy.                                                                                                            
     Large quantities  of research  indicate that  when kids                                                                    
     do not  attain basic literacy by  age 9 or 10  they are                                                                    
     unlikely  to  catch-up  later.    Social  promotion  of                                                                    
     illiterate  students  at  the  critical  transition  of                                                                    
     using reading skills  to learn is not  doing any favors                                                                    
     to those children.                                                                                                         
     Nearly identical legislation is  already in effect in a                                                                    
     dozen  states  and  it  has  been  producing  fantastic                                                                    
     results.     Florida,  was  the   first  to   try  this                                                                    
     legislation back  in 2002.   In  the 2003  NAEP testing                                                                    
     Florida was 28th  in low-income 4th grade  reading.  By                                                                    
     2013 they were 1st.                                                                                                        
     According  to   2013  NAEP  test  scores,   low  income                                                                    
     Hispanic  4th  graders  in Florida  read  at  a  higher                                                                    
     comprehension  level  than   the  average  Alaskan  4th                                                                    
     It's interesting  to note that according  to the latest                                                                    
     NEA publication,  "Rankings and Estimates,"  Alaska was                                                                    
     1st in per capita K-12  funding in 2010 and Florida was                                                                    
     Our kids are bright;                                                                                                       
     Our teachers are dedicated;                                                                                                
     Our parents are loving;                                                                                                    
     There's no reason we can't do better.                                                                                      
8:48:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS asked how first and second grade students                                                                          
demonstrating literacy challenges are being addressed.                                                                          
MR. GRIFFIN answered that with known accountability at the third                                                                
grade level, the earlier grades appear to focus effort on                                                                       
getting students more prepared for third grade.                                                                                 
8:50:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS asked how early literacy is currently addressed in                                                                 
Alaska, and what should be occurring.                                                                                           
8:50:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SUSAN   MCCAULEY,  Director,   Teaching  and   Learning  Support,                                                               
Department of  Education and Early  Development (EED),  said that                                                               
the state has an established policy.   Alaska took a step further                                                               
last   year   in   requiring   early   literacy   screening   for                                                               
kindergarten-second grade.  Third grade  assessments have been in                                                               
place  and  the need  for  early  literacy  is understood.    She                                                               
directed  attention  to  page  5,   lines  13-25,  requiring  the                                                               
department to  monitor and  audit on specified  time lines.   She                                                               
said the department will be  looking at these two requirements to                                                               
determine the best means to respond/comply.                                                                                     
8:53:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS asked whether the department supports Version O.                                                                   
MS.  MCCAULEY said  the  department considers  that  the bill  is                                                               
consistent with what is understood to be helpful for students.                                                                  
8:54:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS  considered  the  rural areas  that  may  not  have                                                               
sufficient  staff available  and  asked how  the department  will                                                               
address these situations.                                                                                                       
MS. MCCAULEY pointed out the bill  does not require or permit the                                                               
department  to  trump local  district  literacy  decisions.   The                                                               
department will  be monitoring districts  but it will need  to be                                                               
made  clear what  elements are  to be  monitored.   Certainly EED                                                               
will  provide districts  the  necessary professional  development                                                               
opportunities and make recommendations as necessary.                                                                            
8:57:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked whether  data, from the regulations                                                               
adopted  in [2013]  establishing early  literacy screening,  have                                                               
been compiled.                                                                                                                  
MS.  MCCAULEY answered  no.   She explained  that the  regulation                                                               
requiring  the  screening  assessments,  to  be  conducted  at  a                                                               
minimum  of  once  a  year,   had  the  first  assessment  window                                                               
beginning  April 1  [2014].   The  department  will receive  this                                                               
initial  literacy  data  as  part  of  [each  district's]  annual                                                               
submission in July [2014].                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND noted that  the Anchorage School District                                                               
begins kindergarten  classes on a  one week delay from  the other                                                               
grades.      She   reported   that  the   delay   is   to   allow                                                               
parent/teacher/child the  opportunity for  1:1 meetings/readiness                                                               
assessments,  and asked  if early  literacy  screening occurs  at                                                               
that time.                                                                                                                      
MS. MCCAULEY  responded that  the [Alaska  Developmental Profile]                                                               
is required  for students  throughout the  state.   She explained                                                               
that it  is a broad  readiness assessment, not specific  to early                                                               
literacy.   However,  she added,  the new  screening requirements                                                               
include  specifications   addressing  literacy,   which  includes                                                               
letter recognition and sounds.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  queried whether the  screenings indicate                                                               
if a child  has experienced any type of  preschool program, which                                                               
may give them a level of readiness.                                                                                             
MS. MCCAULEY offered to provide further information.                                                                            
9:00:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS   inquired  about  the  specifics   of  the  [2013]                                                               
MS. MCCAULEY answered that it  is specific to, and explicitly, an                                                               
early literacy screening assessment.                                                                                            
CHAIR  GATTIS   stated  her  understanding   that  a   child  may                                                               
demonstrate  proficiency of  letters  and  sounds, but  inquiries                                                               
pertaining to  the source of  early learning are  not necessarily                                                               
MS. MCCAULEY answered she is correct.                                                                                           
9:00:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  suggested the  value and  importance for                                                               
including pre-school information in the screening.                                                                              
MS.  MCCAULEY  agreed.    Although the  district  isn't  able  to                                                               
confirm the action,  it is possible that  districts are including                                                               
pre-school experience as part of the developmental profile.                                                                     
9:02:10 AM                                                                                                                    
POSIE   BOGGS,    Volunteer,   Alaska    International   Dyslexia                                                               
Association, stated support  for HB 197 and  stated many features                                                               
of this measure are excellent.   However, retention might need to                                                               
be considered for  first grade and expressed  concern for teacher                                                               
training.   Teacher  reading instruction  competency tests  exist                                                               
and this is an  area that should not be overlooked,  she said.  A                                                               
literacy  rich  pre-kindergarten  home is  helpful,  but  parents                                                               
cannot  be  expected  to  understand   how  to  identify  reading                                                               
problems.   Teacher  training programs  need  to include  science                                                               
based  literacy   teaching  techniques  for  best   results,  she                                                               
9:07:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND pointed  out  that pre-school  is not  a                                                               
component of the  bill, although, she offered her  belief that it                                                               
is still a  valid line of questioning, and  indicated interest in                                                               
receiving  further information  regarding the  teacher competency                                                               
tests.   She  asked about  the current  state of  identifying and                                                               
teaching dyslexic students in today's public schools.                                                                           
MS.  BOGGS  responded  how  research  indicates  the  ability  to                                                               
identify dyslexia  as early as late  pre-school and kindergarten,                                                               
and remediation  can begin  in the early  stages.   However, this                                                               
has not been  translated via the higher  education department for                                                               
training  teachers.    The  research   is  solid  that  intensive                                                               
remediation is  successful, when  dyslexia is  identified "early,                                                               
early,  early."    She  reported  that  in  individual  education                                                               
program (IEP) meetings, the professionals  refrain from using the                                                               
term  dyslexia, and  offered her  belief that  this represents  a                                                               
denial of science; representing a core problem in the system.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND concurred.   She recalled that addressing                                                               
dyslexia   was    a   problem   from   1994-2003,    during   the                                                               
Representative's   tenure  on   the  local   school  board,   and                                                               
apparently  it  hasn't  been  resolved.    She  asked  about  the                                                               
percentage of early learners that are identified as dyslexic.                                                                   
MS.  BOGGS said  in the  nation at  large a  ratio of  1:5 or  15                                                               
percent of children  will have some level of  dyslexia, and "it's                                                               
going to  drive the bus."   The  problem of dyslexia  is fixable,                                                               
but the teacher's knowledge needs to  be upgraded.  In five years                                                               
this could be  accomplished, she said, and shared  her vision for                                                               
repurposing professional development funds to this end.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND surmised that,  given the dyslexia issue,                                                               
retaining  literacy  challenged  students in  third  grade  would                                                               
prove helpful.                                                                                                                  
MS. BOGGS suggested  retention for a dyslexic child  in the third                                                               
grade  is   too  late,   and  reiterated   the  need   for  early                                                               
identification/intervention,   and   opined   for   first   grade                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  agreed, and  asked  for  copies of  the                                                               
research regarding dyslexia.                                                                                                    
MS. BOGGS added that the support  a dyslexic child requires is no                                                               
different  than  what  is  necessary  for  all  children  -  only                                                               
9:15:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS closed public testimony on HB 197.                                                                                 
9:15:10 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease at 9:15 a.m.                                                                                      
9:15:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  moved to  report the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for HB  197,  Version  O, labeled  28-LS0515\O,                                                               
Mischel,    2/21/14,   out    of   committee    with   individual                                                               
recommendations and the [forthcoming] fiscal note.                                                                              
9:15:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND objected.                                                                                               
9:15:52 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives  LeDoux, Reinbold,                                                               
P.   Wilson,   and  Gattis   voted   in   favor  of   CSHB   197.                                                               
Representative  Drummond  voted  against  it.    Therefore,  CSHB
197(EDC)  was  reported  out  of  the  House  Education  Standing                                                               
Committee by a vote of 4-1.                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 197 Letter of Support Griffin.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 197
HB 197 Letter of Support Sullivan.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 197
HB333 Sponsor Statement 28-LS1466.U.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Informational Document - McDowell Group Infrastructure Needs Study.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Informational Document - CHAMP Partners.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Support Letter - City of Ketchikan Museum Department.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Support Letter - Museums Alaska.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Support Letter - Pratt Museum (Homer).pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Supporting Document - Museums Alaska.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB 197 ver O.pdf HEDC 4/9/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 197