Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106
02/28/2020 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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HB 181-PUBLIC SCHOOLS: MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION 8:04:56 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 181 "An Act relating to mental health education." 8:05:52 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY moved to adopt Amendment 1, labeled 31- LS1146\A.1, Caouette, 2/18/20, which read as follows: Page 1, line 7, following "organizations": Insert "and regional tribal health organizations" 8:06:01 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND objected for the purposes of discussion of the proposed amendment. 8:06:07 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY explained that the previous version of HB 181 provided for collaboration with only one regional tribal health organization - Southcentral Foundation - and this amendment allows for participation and consultation by any regional tribal health organization authorized under the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. 8:07:33 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND removed her objection to the proposed amendment. 8:07:39 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX objected in order to ask whether the proposed amendment affects tribal sovereignty. 8:08:14 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY answered in detail that the proposed amendment has no effect on the legal status of any entity and would serve to broaden the available consultants who are already doing work in the field of mental health. 8:08:51 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked whether this amendment should be broadened to include other state agencies who deal with the effects of mental health issues such as the Department of Corrections or other law enforcement agencies. 8:09:34 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND answered that HB 181 would be instructive to DEED and the Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development to develop standards for mental health curriculum and allowed that there exist downstream impacts of mental health education. She expressed her hope that the implementation of HB 181 would prevent individuals from contacting law enforcement due to mental health issues. 8:10:08 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked whether law enforcement agencies would be alerted to the passage of HB 181 and consulted for input on the development of standards. 8:10:35 AM ALYSA WOODEN, Program Coordinator, Division of Behavioral Health, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), noted that DEED would be the appropriate entity to answer; however, DHSS is a partner in consultation regarding mental health with DEED. 8:11:38 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX removed his objection to the proposed amendment. 8:12:19 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND stated that, seeing no further objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. 8:12:24 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY moved to adopt Amendment 2, labeled 31- LS1146\A.2 Caouette 2/24/20 which read as follows: Page 2, following line 18: Insert a new bill section to read: "* Sec. 4. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read: TRANSITION. The state Board of Education and Early Development shall develop the mental health guidelines required by AS 14.30.360(b), as amended by sec. 3 of this Act, within two years after the effective date of this Act." 8:12:36 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND objected for the purposes of discussion of the proposed amendment. 8:12:41 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY explained that the proposed amendment takes into consideration that the standards for voluntary educational programs are out of date and would codify a deadline of two years after the effective date for DEED to accomplish the development of guidelines set out in HB 181. She also explained that the proposed amendment should reduce the financial considerations for a contractor named in the associated fiscal note. 8:13:43 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND removed her objection to the proposed amendment. There being no further objection, Amendment 2 was adopted. 8:14:02 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON related conversations that she has had with teachers regarding HB 181, who have alerted her to their concern of an increased workload on already overburdened teachers. She added that other concerns reported to her by teachers is that they lack training in mental health and that implementation of HB 181 will come at the expense of other educational programs. 8:15:17 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX echoed Representative Johnson's experience of being contacted by teachers who expressed concern over implementation of HB 181 due to increased workload. 8:15:47 AM CO-CHAIR STORY expressed concern that the effects of HB 181, if passed, would result in an unfunded mandate, though she acknowledged that mental health is already burdensome on students, teachers, and schools. She expressed concern also that DEED would be burdened to assist districts in the development of mental health curricula; however, she opined that the extent of existing mental health issues among students is already akin to an unfunded mandate. 8:17:25 AM CO-CHAIR STORY asked whether the fiscal note HB181-EED-SSA-2-14- 20 would allocate resources to DEED, or if the funds would be used to hire much-needed counselors. 8:17:57 AM REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN answered that the fiscal note is not associated with hiring counselors in any schools and is directed to hire one contractor to assist in development of the standards and stakeholder engagement, including travel costs. He stated that, as prime sponsor, the fiscal note was unexpected and gave him pause to consider whether a consultant and travel expenses were genuinely necessary for the implementation of the proposed legislation. 8:19:26 AM CO-CHAIR STORY followed up by further expressing her concern that counselors would be required to aid in the implementation of the guidelines and, while she had considered adding an amendment to include incremental funding to provide counselors, she elected to not in the interest of keeping HB 181 on track for passage. She stated her support for updating health standards and to include mental health as a part of the health curriculum. 8:20:42 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY stated her support of the proposed legislation especially considering the framework for health standards was last updated in excess of 20 years prior. She reiterated her concern regarding the validity of a wholesale update to the standards as required in order to implement HB 181. She requested that the committee to keep in mind that the health education standards remain voluntary as proposed in HB 181. She recalled prior public testimony from students which she suggested demonstrated a widespread need for students to advocate for themselves and their peers and stated her belief that HB 181 would be an appropriate vehicle to address some of the serious mental health issues students in Alaska face. She encouraged the passage of HB 181. 8:23:05 AM REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked what the ramifications would be should HB 181 be held in committee until the next meeting. 8:23:22 AM CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND expressed her intention to move the bill out of the House Education Standing Committee, and following that, HB 181 would be taken into consideration by the House Finance Committee, where it would undergo additional scrutiny. She commented that are challenges when considering multiple bills currently proposed by the legislature that will affect funding of education in Alaska. CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked Representative Claman if HB 181 passed as amended whether DEED would have two years to submit standards to districts for their voluntary implementation. 8:24:30 AM REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN stated that DEED and its board would have up to two years to complete the development of the standards and could - at its own discretion - complete the work sooner. 8:25:00 AM CO-CHAIR STORY moved to report HB 181 as amended out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. 8:25:22 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON objected, restating her earlier reservation of increased burdens for teachers and districts. 8:26:11 AM A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Zulkosky, Hopkins, Story, and Drummond voted in favor of moving HB 181 as amended out of committee. Representatives Prax and Johnson voted against it. Therefore, CSHB 181(EDC) was reported out of the House Education Standing Committee by a vote of 4-2.