Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/25/2003 11:04 AM House EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  72-BOARD OF REGENTS QUALIFICATIONS                                                                                        
Number 0084                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  only order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 72,  "An Act relating  to the  qualifications and                                                               
appointment of members of the  Board of Regents of the University                                                               
of Alaska; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO introduced  and welcomed  Representative Dan  Ogg as                                                               
the newest member of the committee.                                                                                             
CHAIR GATTO explained  that this bill allows for there  to be two                                                               
student members  of the  Board of  Regents, one  which will  be a                                                               
voting member and  the other a nonvoting  member.  Theoretically,                                                               
the  nonvoting member  would be  in training  the first  year and                                                               
become the voting member the next year.                                                                                         
Number 0211                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVID GUTTENBERG,  Alaska  State Legislature,  as                                                               
sponsor of HB 72, explained the  purpose of the bill and answered                                                               
questions from the members.  He  said this bill is in response to                                                               
a situation  that occurred  last year when  a student  regent was                                                               
not  confirmed by  the legislature.   He  said he  represents the                                                               
university district in Fairbanks, where  the students came to him                                                               
and asked him  to look for a way to  address the frustration they                                                               
experienced with the legislature  for not confirming that student                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  told the committee the  students had a                                                               
bill  drafted  that said  there  would  be two  student  regents.                                                               
There  were problems  with this  legislation  because having  two                                                               
student regents  would mean  that there would  be 12  regents, an                                                               
even number, and  that does not work.  So  in thinking about what                                                               
some of  the questions were,  the concept of having  each student                                                               
regent serve  a two-year term  emerged.   In the past  there have                                                               
been times  when a  student regent resigned  or stepped  down for                                                               
various reasons,  and if  there were  two student  regents, there                                                               
would always be one there.  He  said if there are two regents and                                                               
they  serve alternating  years,  where one  is  appointed in  the                                                               
first  year, a  junior student  regent, then  the next  year that                                                               
regent  would move  up  to the  senior  student regent  position.                                                               
Then a new one comes on  and serves as the junior student regent.                                                               
During the  first year the  regent would not have  voting rights,                                                               
but  would  be  allowed  to  participate.    This  process  would                                                               
accomplish a few  things.  It allows the opportunity  to catch up                                                               
faster without  any pressure,  and allows  more students  to have                                                               
the  opportunity  to  have "student  regent"  on  their  resumes.                                                               
These students are  highly motivated and focused.   While student                                                               
regents serve  for two years,  the rest  of the Board  of Regents                                                               
serves   eight  years.     It   is  a   considerable  difference.                                                               
Representative Guttenberg told the committee  he thinks this is a                                                               
good way  to address  the problem.   It is a  policy call  by the                                                               
legislature to  address the  situation that  has happened  to the                                                               
student regents and give them more opportunities.                                                                               
Number 0453                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO  asked about the  nonvoting student  regent's ability                                                               
to vote in subcommittee meetings.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  responded that  the junior  regent can                                                               
vote  in subcommittees,  and the  senior regent  has full  voting                                                               
privileges.  He commented that  the junior regent participates in                                                               
everything  except votes  by the  full body,  and as  the members                                                               
know, a considerable amount of work  and influence can be done in                                                               
CHAIR GATTO  commented that it  is clear how the  succession from                                                               
junior to senior  regent works, but what happens  if both regents                                                               
leave office at the same time and  there are two new regents.  He                                                               
asked what method determines the senior and the junior regent.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  responded  that  the  bill  says  the                                                               
senior and junior regent would  be determined by date of service.                                                               
So  theoretically if  one was  appointed a  day sooner  or later,                                                               
that would determine the junior or senior status.                                                                               
CHAIR GATTO  said he sees  a small problem:   When there  are two                                                               
regents up  for confirmation, how does  the legislature determine                                                               
who is junior  or senior - by a flip  of a coin or a  vote of the                                                               
Number 0608                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  pointed  out  that  since  these  regents                                                               
positions are for different periods  of time, one a two-year term                                                               
and one a one-year term, that would determine it.                                                                               
Number 0633                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  GATTO  responded  that  is correct,  but  asked  what  the                                                               
selection procedure is  when there are two new  regents coming in                                                               
at the same time.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  said she  thinks  when  two students  are                                                               
elected at  the same time,  one would  be running for  a one-year                                                               
term and another  for a two-year term.  The  person with the one-                                                               
year term would be a senior at the university.                                                                                  
Number 0690                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked if it  is necessary have to  have a                                                               
certain amount of credits to  run for student regents, or whether                                                               
it could be a freshman.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE OGG pointed  to page 2 [lines 14-16]  which says a                                                               
regent  must  "remain enrolled  as  a  full-time student  at  the                                                               
University of  Alaska during  the term for  which the  regent was                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG said theoretically  a freshman could be                                                               
on  the  Board  of  Regents,   but,  if  so,  the  student  would                                                               
definitely be an overachiever.                                                                                                  
CHAIR GATTO  pointed out that  a freshman  could be 35  years old                                                               
with a law  background and could have served  in the legislature.                                                               
He  suggested that  the committee  work  on the  language so  the                                                               
intent of the committee is clear.                                                                                               
Number 0822                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  said there could be  some clarification based                                                               
on  the  election  process,  that  the  candidates  would  select                                                               
whether they  were running  for either  the one-year  position or                                                               
two-year position.  That needs to be clarified in the statutes.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON referred the members to page 2, lines 30-                                                                 
31, where it  talks about this point.  If  a regent resigns, then                                                               
that office  would be  for [the unexpired  term of]  the original                                                               
appointee, whereas the  other person will be running  for a full-                                                               
term  seat.   He said  that  language might  already clarify  the                                                               
question by the committee.                                                                                                      
CHAIR GATTO agreed  that the language does  clarify that question                                                               
in that the election separates the terms of office.                                                                             
Number 0936                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG referred to page 2,  line 22, where there is a                                                               
discussion about subcommittees.  He said  that as a member of the                                                               
Board  of  Regents  for  eight  years, he  does  not  recall  any                                                               
reference  to  subcommittees,  only   committees.    He  said  he                                                               
believes that  language is incorrect,  and it should  be verified                                                               
with the university.                                                                                                            
CHAIR   GATTO  asked   Representative   Ogg  if   he  is   saying                                                               
subcommittees do not exist.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG said  he does  not ever  recall serving  on a                                                               
subcommittee of one of the standing committees.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  responded that  the intent was  to use                                                               
the  term "committee"  rather than  "subcommittee",  and that  he                                                               
would consider a change in the language as a friendly amendment.                                                                
Number 1072                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved to amend HB 72 as follows:                                                                          
     On page 2, line 22                                                                                                         
     delete the word "subcommittees"                                                                                        
     insert the word "committees"                                                                                           
CHAIR GATTO asked if there  were any objections to the amendment.                                                               
There being no objection, the amendment was adopted.                                                                            
Number 1117                                                                                                                     
CHIP  WAGONER testified  in support  of HB  72, provided  a brief                                                               
history on  the student regent  position, and  answered questions                                                               
from the committee.  He told  the committee that although he is a                                                               
registered lobbyist, he  is representing only himself  today.  He                                                               
explained he is  interested in this bill because  of his personal                                                               
experiences when he  attended the University of Alaska.   He said                                                               
when  he  was going  to  the  University,  the Board  of  Regents                                                               
meetings were held  in a room smaller than the  one the committee                                                               
is meeting in  and there would be very few  people in attendance.                                                               
He said  current meetings have  a large attendance.   Mr. Wagoner                                                               
said he  attended because he  was the student body  president and                                                               
served as  a student representative  on the  university assembly.                                                               
He said  that at the time  he felt that the  students needed more                                                               
representation on  the Board  of Regents  because even  though he                                                               
was  there and  was allowed  to  participate, by  not having  the                                                               
right to  vote, he felt as  though he was a  second-class citizen                                                               
and not effective.                                                                                                              
MR.  WAGONER told  the committee  that  with the  support of  the                                                               
student body,  he prepared a position  paper and in 1972  came to                                                               
the legislature, where  he advocated for students to  have a full                                                               
voting  member on  the Board  of Regents.   He  said the  student                                                               
body, both  in Fairbanks and Anchorage,  was united on this.   As                                                               
the bill made  its way through the process, it  became clear that                                                               
a one-year term as a voting  member was not sufficient because it                                                               
takes a  year to learn  about the personalities of  other members                                                               
and learn  the system.  So  the prime sponsor of  the bill, then-                                                               
Senator  Terry Miller,  changed it  to make  it a  two-year term.                                                               
The first year  the bill went through the  legislative process it                                                               
died; the second  year it passed.  Then-Senator  Miller and then-                                                               
Representative  Bradner, both  from  Fairbanks,  pushed the  bill                                                               
through without much  opposition.  The two-year term  as a voting                                                               
member  of  the  regents  really helped  the  students  in  being                                                               
represented.   One  of  the  students became  an  officer of  the                                                               
board; had  the term only  been a  one-year term, that  would not                                                               
have been happened.                                                                                                             
MR.  WAGONER said  he  believes it  is the  vote  that gives  the                                                               
position credibility.   He offered  his belief that  changing the                                                               
representation  to  a junior  and  senior  regent will  hurt  the                                                               
students  more  than help  them.    He  recommended that  if  the                                                               
committee is going to do anything  it should add a second regent,                                                               
as  opposed to  cutting the  power in  half.   He added  that the                                                               
situation that  occurred last year  has only occurred once  in 28                                                               
years.   He said he  thinks the sponsor's  heart is in  the right                                                               
place  in representing  the Fairbanks  community.   He reiterated                                                               
that he believes  doing this is cutting the power  of the student                                                               
regent in  half by giving that  student regent the power  to vote                                                               
only one year as opposed to two years.                                                                                          
Number 1468                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  commented that he has  talked with Mr.                                                               
Wagoner about his concerns regarding  the student regents' having                                                               
respect  and authority  on  the Board  of Regents.    He said  he                                                               
believes  this  bill does  provide  respect  and authority  in  a                                                               
stronger sense.   There is no division of the  vote.  The student                                                               
regent still has the vote for one  year instead of two, but is on                                                               
the Board  of Regents for  two years.   The first year,  allows a                                                               
nonvoting  member to  expand and  get  to know  everyone and  the                                                               
issues.   He  said he  does not  believe having  the vote  in the                                                               
second year will diminish that power  or authority.  He said that                                                               
while he  and Mr. Wagoner agree  on some parts of  the bill, they                                                               
do not agree on others.                                                                                                         
CHAIR GATTO asked what happens  when a nonvoting member, who will                                                               
be the  voting member the  next year,  quits school.   The voting                                                               
member is now gone and the situation  is now back to where it was                                                               
earlier.  He asked whether the  voting member typically is in the                                                               
last year of school.                                                                                                            
Number 1512                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  pointed out that  since the term  of a                                                               
student regent  is for two years,  the latest a student  could be                                                               
elected to the Board of Regents  would be in the student's junior                                                               
year, because  as soon as a  regent is no longer  a student, that                                                               
individual is off the board.                                                                                                    
Number 1512                                                                                                                     
JENNIFER  LESH,   Legislative  Affairs  Director,   Coalition  of                                                               
Student  Leaders, University  of Alaska  Southeast, testified  in                                                               
support of HB 72 and answered  questions from the committee.  She                                                               
said she believes  it is important for students to  always have a                                                               
representative.    Last year  the  student  body went  without  a                                                               
student representative  for five months.   She said  she believes                                                               
having a junior  regent would be valuable, since  it would afford                                                               
a year's  training and experience  before stepping into  the full                                                               
role as a regent.                                                                                                               
Number 1594                                                                                                                     
KACI   HAMILTON,  Student,   University   of  Alaska   Southeast,                                                               
testified in support  of HB 72.  She said  she supports this bill                                                               
because   it  is   important   that   students  have   continuous                                                               
representation  on the  Board  of  Regents.   She  said having  a                                                               
second regent  would allow somewhat of  an apprenticeship system.                                                               
The regent would  be allowed to come in with  a greater knowledge                                                               
of the  Board of Regents and  would be better able  to handle the                                                               
duties  and roles  they will  encounter.   No  one knows  student                                                               
matters better  than students,  so having  that second  regent on                                                               
the board who  is knowledgeable, ready, and knows what  it is all                                                               
about would benefit all students and the Board of Regents.                                                                      
Number 1673                                                                                                                     
SAHAR  GHORBANPOUR,  Student  Ambassador,  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Southeast, testified in  support of HB 72  and answered questions                                                               
from the  committee.   She told  the committee  that she  has not                                                               
talked  to any  students  who see  anything  negative about  this                                                               
bill.  It is an exciting concept  to have two people on the Board                                                               
of Regents  because she views  it as mentorship program  where it                                                               
allows both regents to serve  their entire term more effectively.                                                               
They  have each  other  as  a support  system,  and  there is  an                                                               
opportunity  to learn  the ways  of the  Board of  Regents.   The                                                               
first year of anything, whether for  a legislator or a regent, is                                                               
really a  learning year.   To have  someone else there  to bounce                                                               
ideas  off  of,  the  entire process  and  procedures,  would  be                                                               
valuable.  It would add a lot  of cohesion to the board and would                                                               
create more unity.   This bill also allows more  students to have                                                               
a part of that  process.  She pointed out that  it could mean two                                                               
separate campuses could  be represented at the same  time and add                                                               
to the dynamics of the board.                                                                                                   
MS. GHORBANPOUR said  in response to Chair  Gatto's question that                                                               
she is  a liberal  arts student, with  an emphasis  in psychology                                                               
and biology in the hopes of going on to medical school.                                                                         
Number 1885                                                                                                                     
MS. GHORBANPOUR  responded to  a series  of questions  from Chair                                                               
Gatto by saying that she went  to a Board of Regents meeting last                                                               
year.   She  thought  the  meeting was  productive  and that  the                                                               
regent was very well respected.   She commented that she does not                                                               
believe that would  change if there were a  second student regent                                                               
on the board.   It was a  very successful meeting.   She said she                                                               
would be interested in being a  student regent, and since this is                                                               
only  her  second year,  she  has  time.   She  noted  that as  a                                                               
graduate student she could serve as well.                                                                                       
Number 1923                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GARA commented  that he thought he  had just heard                                                               
a compelling reason  why Chair Gatto, Representative  Ogg, and he                                                               
should not be able to vote either.                                                                                              
Number 1971                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER moved to report  HB 72, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
Number 1985                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG told  the  committee that  he  served on  the                                                               
[Board  of Regents]  committee for  eight years  and served  with                                                               
many  distinguished individuals.    He said  he  served with  two                                                               
student regents who  became officers of the board,  and he agrees                                                               
with Mr.  Wagoner's assessment that  had the student  regent only                                                               
been a voting  member for one year, that possibly  would not have                                                               
happened.   He  also  said he  saw no  inability  of the  student                                                               
regent  he worked  with in  jumping  in and  performing the  full                                                               
duties of  a regent.   The  respect the  other regents  gave [the                                                               
student regents]  was wonderful.   He did not notice  the student                                                               
regents  having any  more difficulty  than  any other  first-year                                                               
regent.    He  does  have concerns  about  voting  in  committees                                                               
because that is where  most of the work is done,  and most of the                                                               
voting that  is done before the  full Board of Regents  is mostly                                                               
pro  forma.    This  bill  would  actually  increase  the  voting                                                               
capacity  of the  student  regents to  two instead  of  one.   He                                                               
suggested  that there  may  need to  be more  work  done on  that                                                               
portion of  the bill or  maybe that part  should be deleted.   He                                                               
said he likes the  fact that at least one of  the regents must be                                                               
a  graduate of  the University  of  Alaska and  pointed out  that                                                               
Governor Murkowski put that in this year.                                                                                       
Number 2145                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO  asked, if Representative  Ogg's concern is  that the                                                               
student  regents  would  have too  much  influence  in  committee                                                               
votes,  whether that  concern could  be addressed  by prohibiting                                                               
two  student regents  from serving  on  the same  committee.   He                                                               
rephrased his question by asking  if Representative Ogg's concern                                                               
is that  having two students  on the  same committee at  the same                                                               
time would be overweighing the committee.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG  said  he  does not  object  to  one  student                                                               
regent's  having  the  ability  to vote.    However,  if  another                                                               
student  regent  is  added  to   committees,  they  will  not  be                                                               
balanced.   He  explained that  a  second student  regent who  is                                                               
allowed  to  vote  changes  the   structure  of  the  committees.                                                               
Currently,  five members  sit on  the standing  committees, which                                                               
are  Academic and  Student Affairs  Committee, Finance  and Audit                                                               
Committee,  and  Facilities &  Land  Management  Committee.   The                                                               
chair of  the Board of Regents  can serve on any  committee he or                                                               
she wishes to,  and comes in and  out of those meetings.   If one                                                               
more regent is  added to the standing committees,  there would be                                                               
six on one and five on another.   Representative Ogg said it is a                                                               
delicate balance.                                                                                                               
Number 2217                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO asked what his solution would be.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG said  he believes  this  bill is  based on  a                                                               
reaction to an anomaly.  He  does not think it would happen again                                                               
and, if so,  it would be very  rare.  To change  the structure of                                                               
the Board of Regents based on an anomaly is going overboard.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER made  a point  of order  that there  is a                                                               
motion on the table.                                                                                                            
Number 2390                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG thanked  the members  for the  opportunity to                                                               
discuss his concerns.                                                                                                           
A  roll  call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Gatto,  Gara,                                                               
Kapsner, Seaton,  and Wilson voted  in favor of reporting  HB 72,                                                               
as  amended, from  committee.   Representative Ogg  voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore,  CSHB  27(EDU)  was reported  out  of the  House                                                               
Special Committee on Education by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                

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