Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/31/1994 03:00 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 354 - I.D. REQUIRED TO ENROLL CHILD IN SCHOOL Number 276 REP. CYNTHIA TOOHEY addressed HB 354. She stated that the bill adds a new subsection to AS 14.30.710 that will require a person who initially enrolls a child in school to provide a birth certificate or other proof of identity to the school not more than 30 days after enrollment. The school will notify the missing persons information clearinghouse if a child is enrolled under a name other than what is indicated on at least one of the child's identifying documents. She further explained that law enforcement would be notified and requested to determine whether the child has been reported missing if a person fails to produce proof of identity and any previous school records. The school will use a form that contains written notice informing the person enrolling the child that enrollment under a false name is a criminal offense and that failure to comply is a violation. She asserted that passage of the bill could possibly help in locating exploited and missing children and it would be consistent with at least seven other states that require birth certificates upon enrollment. REP. TOOHEY indicated that there was a committee substitute (CS). She said the original bill as written requires the parents to produce any prior school records, which is not common practice. A school will send records forward to the next school, the records are not given to the parent. She indicated that the CS rectifies that issue. CHAIR BUNDE asked SHEILA PETERSON to come forward to answer questions. SHEILA PETERSON, Special Assistant to Commissioner Covey, Department of Education (DOE), testified in support of HB 354. She stated that the DOE is appreciative of the hard work that the HESS Committee staff has offered to the crafting of the CS. She said the CS provides a mechanism to help the Public Safety Division identify missing children. She indicated that one of the sections in the CS addresses a situation where a child is using two last names, citing that the birth certificate may be in the biological father's name, but the child currently is using the step-father's last name. She said the CS requires that at least one identifying document must have the name the child is currently using. Number 388 REP. TOOHEY made a motion to adopt the CS for HB 354. CHAIR BUNDE, hearing no objections, stated that the CS for HB 354 was so moved. He then asked LIEUTENANT CASANOVAS to testify. Number 490 LIEUTENANT DENNIS CASANOVAS, Commander, Statewide Criminal Investigation Unit, said he would be available for questions. CHAIR BUNDE asked if Lt. Casanovas was in favor of the bill. LT. CASANOVAS maintained that it was very possible that the bill would assist in identifying missing children and reuniting them with their rightful parents. CHAIR BUNDE asked for questions. REP. VEZEY said he failed to see the benefits of the bill as he felt that the children are in a safe environment at school. He thought the legislation would just create a tremendous amount of paperwork. CHAIR BUNDE responded that a child may be very young, kindergarten age, and it is very likely that a parent has kidnapped the child. He also indicated that some children have been abducted as early as three years old and are not inclined to protest. Number 460 REP. TOOHEY asserted that there would not be extra paper work because children need proof of identification and shot records anyway. She said the main thrust of the bill is to detect if there has been a kidnapping. CHAIR BUNDE observed that parents have been known to falsify children's birth records to enable them to enroll their children in all-day kindergarten because it is cheaper than daycare. REP. KOTT asked Ms. Peterson if schools in Alaska have problems obtaining records from schools in other states. MS. PETERSON said to her knowledge there is no problem. She indicated that statutes require a school that is receiving a transfer student to request within 14 days the records of the child from the previous school. She further indicated that if a child transfers to an Alaskan school from an Alaskan school, the transcripts must be submitted within 10 days after receiving the request. Number 522 REP. KOTT asked how the requesting of a birth certificate could assist in ascertaining whether or not a child has been kidnapped. CHAIR BUNDE observed that when the child is first enrolled in school, a birth certificate is needed as identification. Then once that proof of identification has been certified, the record would follow the child to the next school. He further explained that if records are coming from out-of- state, it can take a very long time to receive them and sometimes they are lost. He indicated that there have been cases in Alaska where a noncustodial parent has moved to rural Alaska with the child. MS. PETERSON clarified that if a person enrolls a child as Johnny Smith, and that is not his name or the name that he was enrolled under in the previous school, and the school was unable to obtain the records by request, it would be assumed that the current school would follow up and ascertain as to whether Johnny Smith is really Johnny Smith. She explained that the school would then contact the missing persons clearinghouse. Number 591 CHAIR BUNDE asked if the process would be most useful when the child first enters school and establishes a positive identity. Then the record of positive identity would follow the child. MS. PETERSON said yes. CHAIR BUNDE asked if a child must establish positive identity every time there is a change of schools. MS. PETERSON indicated that a child would need identifying documents or a birth certificate if the child has not previously been enrolled in school. REP. VEZEY said the legislation only applies to people who have not previously been enrolled in public school. CHAIR BUNDE indicated that a youth might register for the first time in high school because they were in a private school previously. He asked for further questions. He closed public testimony and asked for further discussion. REP. G. DAVIS made a motion to pass HB 354 out of committee with individual recommendations and accompany zero fiscal note. CHAIR BUNDE asked for objections. REP. VEZEY objected. CHAIR BUNDE called for the vote. Reps. G. Davis, Kott, Toohey, and Bunde voted Yea and Rep. Vezey voted Nay. Chair Bunde announced that HB 354 was so moved. Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting at 4:07 p.m.