Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/18/1996 08:08 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 546 - G.O. BONDS: SCHOOLS & UNIV.                                        
 The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs            
 Committee was HB 546.                                                         
 CHAIR JAMES announced she did not have any new information                    
 regarding HB 546.  She wanted to share and to hear from the                   
 committee members one more time before putting this issue "to bed"            
 how to establish an equitable distribution of the funds.  She                 
 explained rural schools were owned by the state, and urban schools            
 were owned by the school district.  Therefore, there was the                  
 possibility to divide the program into two different programs to              
 service the entire state.  The general obligation bonds would apply           
 only to the state owned facilities, while the facilities owned by             
 the school districts would establish their own bonds with a 70                
 percent contribution from the state, for example.                             
 CHAIR JAMES further explained the bill was dead.  It was not a                
 priority amongst the majority leadership.  Consequently, today was            
 the last hearing on this bill.  She was prepared to deal with it              
 again next year, however.                                                     
 Number 0398                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER congratulated Chair James for taking on           
 the issue.  However, given the remaining time left in the session,            
 he agreed it would not move forward in the legislative process.  He           
 said the committee had discussed the issue thoroughly.  He would be           
 interested in reviewing it further during the interim.                        
 Number 0448                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said she was interested in reviewing it further during            
 the interim also.  She particularly wanted to review the priority             
 application process.  The current system was flawed.  It was based            
 on legislative priority and not need.                                         
 Number 0485                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested a task force approach combining the           
 efforts of the House State Affairs Committee and the House Health,            
 Education and Social Services Committee.                                      
 CHAIR JAMES agreed that was a good idea.                                      
 Number 0516                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON said she did not want to see the bill           
 die.  The idea was long over due.  She agreed with the concept of             
 an interim task force.  She suggested including members on the task           
 force from the private industry and school boards as well.                    
 Number 0575                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said this was a very important issue to her.  She                 
 suggested dedicating the tobacco tax to a fund for school                     
 construction and rehabilitation.  She cited the tax would bring in            
 about $40 million to $50 million a year.                                      
 Number 0637                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said it was a great thought.  He was not sure           
 if the tobacco tax could be dedicated, however.                               
 Number 0646                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES replied the Legislative Legal Department said it would            
 not be a problem.  There was not an Attorney General opinion,                 
 however.  There was evidence from the Alaska State Constitutional             
 Convention that the tax could not be changed or the use of the fund           
 could not be changed.  The tax could be increased or decreased,               
 Number 0706                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if it was a tobacco tax that originally           
 funded school construction and rehabilitation?                                
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "yes."  Currently, 5 cents of the tobacco tax            
 went to a dedicated fund.                                                     
 Number 0753                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS said he hoped that children would not                
 smoke more to get a better school.                                            
 Number 0770                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated this was a very important issue that needed            
 to be addressed somehow.                                                      
 Number 0786                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN invited the interim committee to look at             
 the hub centers, such as Dillingham, Bethel or Nome.                          
 CHAIR JAMES said she would discuss his suggestion with the Speaker            
 of the House, Gail Phillips, to determine if that was possible.               
 Number 0827                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN said he would also like to be a part of an           
 interim committee to address this issue further.                              
 Number 0844                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN said he would also like to be a part of             
 an interim committee to address this issue further.                           
 CHAIR JAMES said it was exciting to see all the committee members             
 supportive of this issue.                                                     

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