Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

02/12/2015 03:30 PM EDUCATION

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03:31:30 PM Start
03:32:02 PM SB31
05:10:47 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 31 SEXUAL ABUSE/ASSAULT PREVENTION PROGRAMS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
         SB 31-SEXUAL ABUSE/ASSAULT PREVENTION PROGRAMS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:32:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced  the consideration of SB 31.  He said it                                                               
was the first hearing  of the bill and he would  hold the bill in                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:32:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BERTA  GARDNER, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor  of SB
31,  introduced her  staff, T.J.  Presley, noting  he has  worked                                                               
extensively on  the bill. She  mentioned David  Holthouse's story                                                               
which  the committee  will hear  today. She  said the  bill is  a                                                               
relatively simple  effort to try  to give children in  school the                                                               
tools to  understand when touch is  bad or good and  when secrets                                                               
are bad  or good. The  proposal also ensures that  educators will                                                               
know how to  teach the curriculum, as well as  recognize signs of                                                               
distress.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:34:07 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  PRESLEY,  Staff,  Senator  Berta  Gardner,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, presented  SB 31 on  behalf of the sponsor.  He said                                                               
the  legislation was  introduced by  Representative Tarr  in 2014                                                               
and received  substantial support.  The Senate  voted unanimously                                                               
to pass Erin's Law in 2014.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He described  Erin's Law, founded  by Erin Merryn, a  survivor of                                                               
childhood  sexual abuse,  and its  efforts in  all fifty  states.                                                               
Currently, 19 states  have adopted Erin's Law and  18 others have                                                               
introduced,  or will  introduce, the  law this  year. Erin's  Law                                                               
mandates school districts  to develop a policy  to train teachers                                                               
to  detect  signs of  sexual  assault  and provide  training  for                                                               
children to  know what actions  they can take when  abuse occurs.                                                               
The  material  must  be  age appropriate  and  can  be  developed                                                               
locally.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
He noted  a legislative research  report and statistics  from the                                                               
Office  of Children  Services in  members' packets.  He said  the                                                               
tools in the  law give children, parents, and  teachers what they                                                               
need to  respond to a  traumatic experience like  sexual assault.                                                               
The law  empowers children to  identify and report  offenders and                                                               
requires mandatory reporting by teachers.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He  related  since  the  bill   was  introduced  last  year,  the                                                               
Fairbanks  North Star  Borough  School  District has  voluntarily                                                               
started its  own version of  Erin's Law. In members'  packets are                                                               
numerous letters  of support from organizations  and individuals.                                                               
The sponsor was  overwhelmed by the amount of  public support for                                                               
this bill. The  sponsor has invited David Holthouse  to share his                                                               
story of abuse with the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:37:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  referred  to  Fairbanks and  asked  why  school                                                               
districts have to wait to be told to include this curriculum.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PRESLEY said  the school  district could  probably speak  to                                                               
that question.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS said he and  Senator Dunleavy should suggest that                                                               
the Mat-Su School District do the same as Fairbanks did.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER  commented that  schools  are  reluctant to  add                                                               
another  mandate,  even  though  they support  the  concept.  She                                                               
opined  that it  is among  the  very most  important issues.  She                                                               
wished the  opportunity for children  to learn what they  need to                                                               
know to protect themselves will happen.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGGINS expected  districts  have  made their  decisions                                                               
because it is  an unfunded mandate and they have  no time, but he                                                               
stressed the importance of the  information. He concluded that he                                                               
did not have a solution.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:40:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS   realized  that  mandatory  reporting   is  not                                                               
required, but mandatory training is.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PRESLEY noted  that mandatory  reporting already  exists and                                                               
the bill would complement that requirement.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  said teachers  must report  if they  even suspect                                                               
sexual abuse. He asked about the fiscal note.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. PRESLEY said the bill has a zero fiscal note.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DUNLEAVY  predicted that there  will be a  fiscal impact                                                               
to districts and that there would be testimony as such.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:41:07 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:42:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY requested that Mr. Holthouse testify.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DAVID HOLTHOUSE,  representing himself,  testified in  support of                                                               
SB 31. He shared a personal  story about abuse as a child, saying                                                               
he did not have the tools to deal  with a rape when he was seven.                                                               
He said  the perpetrator told him  that he had done  a bad thing,                                                               
his dad would spank  him if he told, and if he  told he would say                                                               
he  was  lying, and  he  would  kill  him  and his  parents.  Mr.                                                               
Holthouse pointed out that is  typical predator behavior. He said                                                               
he did  not tell  for 25  years, at significant  cost to  his own                                                               
well-being.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOLTHOUSE stressed  that Erin's Law could  have protected him                                                               
from the assault in the first  place. It would have given him the                                                               
language  to  describe   what  happened  and  who   to  tell.  He                                                               
maintained that  had the schools  acknowledged the  prevalence of                                                               
this  issue,  he would  not  have  felt  so  alone. He  said  the                                                               
loneliness was the worst part of it.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:45:44 PM                                                                                                                    
He recalled a moment in a class  in school when he was 16 and the                                                               
relief he  found when the high  rate of sexual abuse  of children                                                               
in  Alaska  was  acknowledged.  He  said  Erin's  Law  should  be                                                               
mandated because it sends a message to predators and to kids.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:47:14 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF JESSE,  Chief Executive Officer, Alaska  Mental Health Trust                                                               
Authority,  testified  in support  of  SB  31.  He spoke  of  the                                                               
science regarding the  effects of abuse of children.  Some of the                                                               
less-known effects are  an increase in asthma  and heart disease.                                                               
He maintained  that the  real unfunded  mandate is  that children                                                               
aren't taught  how to  protect themselves  and that  teachers are                                                               
not  given  the  tools  and resources  to  help  identify  abused                                                               
children.  He stated  that  the  law is  not  trying  to put  the                                                               
responsibility of ending sexual abuse  on the schools, but rather                                                               
help identify  the problems. He  said he  is amazed that  the two                                                               
bureaucratic system  that need  the most help  to do  their jobs,                                                               
and the  most difficult to help,  are the schools and  the Office                                                               
of  Children's   Services.  Schools  have  access   to  community                                                               
partners that could  assist them to identify these  kids, such as                                                               
domestic   violence  shelters,   child   advocacy  centers,   and                                                               
behavioral health centers. He said  he understands the dilemma of                                                               
why schools  "wait until they  are told." They  do have a  lot on                                                               
their plate. He  concluded that the schools need  to help educate                                                               
kids about how to protect  themselves and give teachers the tools                                                               
and resources  to help identify  abused kids, and avoid  the real                                                               
unfunded mandate  of children who will  not do well in  school or                                                               
in life and cost a lot more in the long run.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:50:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked  how teachers would be  trained to identify                                                               
abused children. He wondered if it is a long-term process.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JESSE  replied that  it is not  rocket science;  it's looking                                                               
for behavioral  changes like  discipline problems  and sexualized                                                               
behavior. The  law would provide  resources for teachers  to use.                                                               
He asked,  "How would I  feel if I  was a  teacher and I  did not                                                               
have this information and I found  out later that there were kids                                                               
in my classes that were being  sexually abused? If I had just had                                                               
some basic  information, I  might have been  able to  change that                                                               
kid's life."  He pointed  out that  abused kids  are in  a family                                                               
situation  and   are  not  getting  the   parental  training  and                                                               
information that all kids should get.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:53:43 PM                                                                                                                    
LISA SKILES PARADY, Executive Director,  Alaska Council of School                                                               
Administrators   (ACSA),    and   the    Alaska   Superintendents                                                               
Association,  testified in  opposition to  SB 31  as an  unfunded                                                               
mandate. She thanked  the sponsor and other  legislators who have                                                               
brought forth  child sexual  abuse in  Alaska for  discussion and                                                               
for bringing the bill forward  for consideration. She opined that                                                               
this subject  matter of the safety  of students is of  a critical                                                               
nature. She  noted she  understands the  statistics and  has four                                                               
daughters.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She  stated that  superintendents do  support the  merits of  the                                                               
bill,  but  are  concerned  with  instructional  time  and  cost.                                                               
Districts have ten  days of professional development  per year in                                                               
which  to   fit  mandated  training  as   well  as  instructional                                                               
training. That  box is already  full. She agreed that  this issue                                                               
may  rise to  the top  in importance.  She listed  other mandated                                                               
training  topics.  She said  the  bill  is an  unfunded  mandate:                                                               
Section 2 of the bill is amended  to add a new section that would                                                               
mandate school boards to provide  a K-12 training program and the                                                               
costs for that would reside  with the school district. Though the                                                               
fiscal note is zero, there is not a zero cost to the district.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:57:45 PM                                                                                                                    
She  shared  two  comments by  superintendents  who  support  the                                                               
merits of  the law, but not  the unfunded mandate. She  said that                                                               
adding  an unfunded  mandate during  this  time of  deep cuts  is                                                               
going the wrong  direction. She concluded that  not all districts                                                               
have  access to  resources and  support services.  She emphasized                                                               
that the bill should not go  forth without the resources to do it                                                               
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:59:56 PM                                                                                                                    
TAI  MAZE, Superintendent,  Lake and  Peninsula School  District,                                                               
testified in opposition to SB 31  as an unfunded mandate. He said                                                               
as a parent  and educator he cannot argue with  the intent of the                                                               
law.  He  noted  his  district's budget  deficit  and  overloaded                                                               
schedule.  In  light of  that  situation,  he requested  funding,                                                               
resources, and support in order to implement a quality program.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:02:33 PM                                                                                                                    
JASMINE,  representing herself,  testified in  support of  SB 31.                                                               
She shared a  personal story about the abuse she  and her brother                                                               
suffered  in their  home. She  talked  about the  effects of  the                                                               
abuse and the  counseling she received from AWARE.  She said most                                                               
kids do  not receive help like  she did and the  law will provide                                                               
the education they  need. It will also help  them understand that                                                               
they are  not alone. She  noted that many criminals  are children                                                               
from  abusive homes  who did  not receive  the help  they needed.                                                               
Erin's  Law  will  educate  and  prevent  future  criminals.  She                                                               
concluded that she  wishes she and her brother  had received this                                                               
information when they were younger  because now her brother is in                                                               
a facility  for depression  related to abuse  and she  might have                                                               
been able to help him.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GARDNER thanked Jasmine and  suggested that she did learn                                                               
how to help.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:05:08 PM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN  SHIPLEY,   Superintendent,  Kake  City   School  District,                                                               
testified  in opposition  to SB  31  as an  unfunded mandate.  He                                                               
stated support  for the merits of  the law, but opposed  the cost                                                               
and  time the  district would  have to  bear. He  noted that  the                                                               
district does  not have community  partners readily  available to                                                               
help.  He  suggested  finding  a way  to  implement  the  program                                                               
correctly from the start.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:07:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SARALYN  TABACHNIK,  Executive   Director,  AWARE,  testified  in                                                               
support of SB  31. She stated that "knowledge is  power" and when                                                               
kids  have  knowledge  and  the information  they  need  to  keep                                                               
themselves safer,  they are actually  able to do that.  This bill                                                               
which  states  that  districts provide  age-appropriate  personal                                                               
safety information  to students in grades  K-12 provides critical                                                               
information. It  also gives school  staff and  administrators the                                                               
ability to  recognize the signs of  abuse. She said the  issue is                                                               
too  important  to  not  figure out  solutions  to  the  unfunded                                                               
mandate. She  said she  does not have  the answer.  She concluded                                                               
that some people  have not testified because they  could not live                                                               
with  the isolation  and shame  of their  victimization and  have                                                               
taken  their  lives.  The  bill gives  all  school  children  the                                                               
knowledge  of who,  and  how, to  tell and  is  a prevention  and                                                               
intervention strategy.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:09:41 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHRYN CARPENTER,  Student, Department of Alaska  Native Studies                                                               
and  Rural   Development,  University  of  Alaska   -  Fairbanks,                                                               
testified  in support  of  SB 31.  She said  she  is a  temporary                                                               
assistant  for  needy  families   with  the  Bristol  Bay  Native                                                               
Association and mother  of two young girls. She  spoke in support                                                               
of sharing knowledge  with children about safe  and unsafe touch.                                                               
She stated  that sexual abuse of  children in Alaska is  a silent                                                               
epidemic and  crosses race, culture, social  economic groups, and                                                               
religion.  Alaska  Native  children  have the  highest  rates  of                                                               
abuse. She  shared statistics of  abuse and what might  have been                                                               
prevented if  Erin's Law was in  effect years ago, such  as abuse                                                               
by priests                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She related  that DEED directs  what constitutes an  education in                                                               
Alaska, and all children should  be provided access to Erin's Law                                                               
in schools  because it is the  only place to reach  all children.                                                               
She encouraged  the committee to  consider Erin's Law  because it                                                               
gives children the  tools to tell, so the shame  and guilt of the                                                               
trauma and abuse fades.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT HIRSCHFIELD,  Pediatrician, testified  in support of  SB 31.                                                               
He agreed with  Mr. Jesse's comments about the  effects of abuse.                                                               
He said  abuse puts  children at  significant risk  for long-term                                                               
health problems  like alcoholism, suicide, depression,  and heart                                                               
disease.  He  noted  kids change  when  abuse  happens;  behavior                                                               
problems can be  prevented with intervention. This  law will save                                                               
money to  the state by  preventing issues caused by  behavior and                                                               
health problems.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:15:42 PM                                                                                                                    
TREVOR  STORRS,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Children's  Trust,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  31. He  thanked the sponsor  and all                                                               
who have  worked on the  bill. He  said Erin's Law  transforms an                                                               
unspeakable issue to  one with a voice. He noted  the goal at the                                                               
Alaska Children's  Trust is to  prevent child abuse  and neglect.                                                               
Erin's  Law  is  true  prevention by  empowering  the  community,                                                               
parents, teachers,  and children. It  gives a voice to  the issue                                                               
and establishes a  safe place for the conversation.  The law will                                                               
establish a  norm and will make  all aware, and then  child abuse                                                               
will be  unacceptable. He agreed  the funding is a  challenge. He                                                               
offered  that  Children's Trust  will  act  as  a partner  and  a                                                               
funding agent. He  concluded that not passing this  law will lead                                                               
to more trauma.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:20:29 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK MAYER,  Superintendent, Wrangell Public  School District,                                                               
testified  in opposition  to SB  31  as an  unfunded mandate.  He                                                               
thanked  the  sponsor  for  bringing the  issue  of  child  abuse                                                               
forward.  He  opined  that  student   safety  is  number  one  in                                                               
educators' eyes and  the content of the law is  critical. He said                                                               
his district's  schools are four-star and  five-star schools with                                                               
a premium  on instruction  time and  limited in-service  days. He                                                               
argued  that  there  is  no  time or  money  for  adding  another                                                               
mandated  program.   He  noted   there  are   community  programs                                                               
available in  Wrangell. He  questioned the  scope of  the program                                                               
and what he could leave out in order to add it.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:23:14 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBIN  SMITH, representing  herself, testified  in support  of SB
31.  She stated  that children  with  a prior  history of  sexual                                                               
victimization  are  extremely  likely   to  be  re-victimized  or                                                               
sexually trafficked.  She appreciated  the previous  testimony of                                                               
several  victims   of  abuse.  She  shared   characteristics  and                                                               
statistics of  abused children. She  said Alaska has a  very high                                                               
rate of abuse of children that  produces high costs to the state.                                                               
She described the violation and  disruption to normal development                                                               
of children.  She concluded that  Governor Walker is in  favor of                                                               
the legislation  and it  would prevent  many future  problems and                                                               
costs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WASSILIISIA  BENNIS,  Chief  Administrator,  Bristol  Bay  Native                                                               
Association (BBNA),  testified in  support of  SB 31.  She shared                                                               
her personal  story of sexual  abuse. She said she  believes that                                                               
emotional and  physical abuse has  long-term effects. SB  31 will                                                               
help provide education and training  to stop this abuse. She said                                                               
she believes in empowering adults  and students to speak up about                                                               
child sexual abuse  to give Alaskans the tools  to prevent sexual                                                               
abuse  and   break  the  silence.   She  share   BBNA's  wellness                                                               
principles. She requested support for Erin's Law.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:29:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MARILYN  CASTEEL,  Executive   Director,  SAFE  Women's  Shelter,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  31. She said,  "We are voice  of the                                                               
many  students  in  Bristol  Bay  that will  become  one  of  our                                                               
statistics  as a  victim of  child sexual  abuse this  year." She                                                               
shared statistics and  stressed the need to give  every child his                                                               
or  her voice.  All  children  need to  be  educated about  child                                                               
sexual abuse.  The bill  allows teachers  and staff  to recognize                                                               
signs of  abuse and  know the proper  protocols to  keep students                                                               
safe.  She   described  her  experience  with   seeing  abuse  in                                                               
Dillingham and the problems of silence.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:32:41 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIN MERRYN, Founder, Erin's Law,  testified in support of SB 31.                                                               
She told  her story of  sexual abuse.  She said what  stopped the                                                               
abuse  is when  the  abuser  moved, but  then  there was  another                                                               
abuser. She  said the abuser is  often someone who a  child knows                                                               
and trusts. The  perpetrators both said to stay  silent. She said                                                               
the abuse finally  ended when her sister became a  victim and she                                                               
spoke  up. She  shared her  journey  on a  destructive path.  She                                                               
stated that she is now using  her voice to give children a voice.                                                               
She believes  that if  someone had intervened  when she  was six,                                                               
she could have been spared years of abuse.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. MERRYN  said she is  giving children  a voice about  abuse so                                                               
they can speak up and tell.  She began the mission five years ago                                                               
in  Illinois. Erin's  Law is  now mandated  in Illinois  to occur                                                               
once a year.  All pre-K to grade 12 students  are taught personal                                                               
body safety and all staff  are trained on sexual abuse prevention                                                               
and warning signs of abuse  and how to handle reporting properly.                                                               
She said she  has made it her mission to  have Erin's Law enacted                                                               
in all fifty states. She said she  was in Alaska in 2014, but the                                                               
law did  not pass. Currently, 20  states have passed the  law and                                                               
it is pending in 21 others.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She related that schools say the  biggest hurdle is lack of time.                                                               
She  stressed that  takes only  an hour  or two  out of  a school                                                               
year. Kids  that do  not have a  voice take up  more time  in the                                                               
classroom with  unacceptable behavior. She noted  that funding is                                                               
the other  issue that often  gets brought up. She  countered that                                                               
there are  programs that costs  nothing or very little.  A school                                                               
could  hire outside  staff  to come  into  the schools.  Salaried                                                               
teachers in the  schools who are already  teaching children could                                                               
teach  the  curriculum.   There  is  researched-based  curriculum                                                               
throughout  the nation.  She cautioned  not to  put a  cost on  a                                                               
child's life.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:41:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MERRYN  shared a story  of when a police  department reported                                                               
on a child's  experience after being educated by  Erin's Law. She                                                               
gave  another example  of a  child  who disclosed  abuse after  a                                                               
school  assembly. She  gave examples  of the  flexibility schools                                                               
use to deliver  the program. She concluded that  she hopes Alaska                                                               
will pass the bill.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:44:10 PM                                                                                                                    
JACK   WALSH,  Superintendent,   Craig   City  School   District,                                                               
testified in  support of  SB 31. He  commented on  the compelling                                                               
testimony today and  thanked the sponsor for  the legislation. He                                                               
agreed that protecting  children should be a  priority in Alaska.                                                               
He shared  his experience in this  issue over the last  28 years.                                                               
He  spoke  of  the  training  that can  serve  the  students  and                                                               
families.  He opined  that  every  school is  in  support of  the                                                               
effort, but some  have issues with expense and  time. He recalled                                                               
the challenges  he found in  rural Alaska. He concluded  that the                                                               
concerns are significant,  but requested that schools  not put up                                                               
road blocks and instead partner  with agencies to find solutions.                                                               
He  noted issues  with  a zero  fiscal note  saying  it does  not                                                               
reflect the impact the bill will have on a district.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:49:15 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRA  BURNS, representing  herself, testified  in support  of SB
31. She  said she is a  victim of sex trafficking  in Alaska. She                                                               
related that  early abuses  in her life  were not  recognized and                                                               
resulted  in behavior  problems. She  shared a  story of  another                                                               
girl who had  a similar experience. She thought  Erin's Law would                                                               
have prevented  a lot of trauma  for herself and the  other girl,                                                               
but it would  also have saved the state hundreds  of thousands of                                                               
dollars in  court costs,  foster care  costs, victims  of violent                                                               
crime  compensation funds,  and prison  costs. She  encourage the                                                               
legislature to  prioritize and invest  in the safety  of Alaska's                                                               
children.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:52:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (DEED), answered questions related to SB 31.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY asked for DEED's position on the bill.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said the department supports the bill.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY requested a response  regarding the cost and time-                                                               
factor for districts.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  said  the   testimony  speaks  for  itself:                                                               
districts  are  being  honest  about   the  challenges  the  bill                                                               
presents;  proponents expressed  the cost  of not  supporting the                                                               
bill. He  said the  department is not  satisfied with  the status                                                               
quo -  there is an epidemic  of child abuse in  Alaska. He viewed                                                               
both sides as valid, but maintained  that standing up for kids is                                                               
the way to go.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY asked  about mandatory  reporting  and any  other                                                               
regulations pertaining to child abuse.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  explained  that   AS  47.17.022  speaks  to                                                               
mandated reporting of child abuse  and neglect. All educators are                                                               
mandatory reporters.  He said AS  18.66.310 speaks  to continuing                                                               
education  for public  employees  on domestic  violence and  does                                                               
require  additional training  for  mandated  reporters. Also,  AS                                                               
14.33.60  speaks  to  a  curriculum  that  recommends  districts'                                                               
health  education programs  include personal  safety in  the K-12                                                               
curriculum.  He  said  there  are  similarities  to  Erin's  Law,                                                               
however,  health education  recommends and  does not  mandate the                                                               
curriculum.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:55:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER  asked  if  Erin's  Law  could  fall  under  the                                                               
personal safety statute.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY thought  there were  a lot  of similarities,                                                               
but said  Erin's Law  speaks to specifics  that probably  are not                                                               
addressed in the  health curriculum. He suggested  that there may                                                               
be curriculum  that Erin's  Law could be  added to  or additional                                                               
curriculum might be required.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY asked if he  has had discussions with other states                                                               
that have adopted the law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said no.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY asked  if he  has looked  at any  curriculum that                                                               
would pertain to Erin's Law.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said no.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY  said it  sounds  like  the curriculum  could  be                                                               
expensive or cheap. He noted  state law stipulates that districts                                                               
adopt curriculum. He  asked Senator Gardner if she  has looked at                                                               
any curriculum.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   GARDNER  said   she  has   not  looked   into  existing                                                               
curriculum, but understands that the  idea is that districts have                                                               
flexibility to choose what is  appropriate for them. The heart of                                                               
the  issue is  "good touch/bad  touch, good  secrets/bad secrets,                                                               
and  that you  can tell  and you  can be  safe." Ensuring  safety                                                               
means that school staff know who to contact.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:58:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY   commented  that   current  law   provides  that                                                               
suspicion of abuse is reported, not investigated.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
He asked if any districts  besides Fairbanks have a curriculum in                                                               
place.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said he is not aware of any.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY asked  if Commissioner Hanley ranks  this issue as                                                               
a high priority.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  replied, in light  of the context  of Alaska                                                               
and the protection of children, it is a high priority.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY asked  if DEED would consider beginning  a list of                                                               
mandatory  regulations to  see if  any  could be  pulled off  the                                                               
plate in order to add Erin's Law.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said that would  be a straightforward task to                                                               
do.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:00:56 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVE  HERBERT, Superintendent,  St. Mary's  School, testified  in                                                               
opposition to  SB 1 as an  unfunded mandate. He said  he supports                                                               
the content of the bill,  however, school districts are too maxed                                                               
out  with  providing  time  and   training  for  more  laws.  The                                                               
committee  should   consider  the  financial  burden   on  school                                                               
districts  and  the  time  factor. He  noted  staff  are  already                                                               
mandated  to  report  all  kinds of  child  abuse.  He  suggested                                                               
eliminating a lesser regulation.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:05:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  agreed that  there are merits  in the  concept of                                                               
Erin's  Law.  He   requested  that  DEED  get   examples  of  the                                                               
curriculum used in other states.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He closed public testimony and held SB 31 in committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS thanked the testifiers.  He argued for punishment                                                               
of  perpetrators and  talked about  the high  recidivism rate  of                                                               
sexual predators.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:08:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER thanked  Chair Dunleavy  for the  suggestions to                                                               
the commissioner. She  said she knew schools  were busy, however,                                                               
she emphasized  that there  are thousands  of children  in Alaska                                                               
who  are  suffering  and  that  knowledge  gives  the  state  the                                                               
responsibility to act. The legislature  has the power to act. She                                                               
concluded that  there may be  more than one  way to do  the right                                                               
thing. She  said, "The right thing  is to protect our  kids." She                                                               
pointed  out that  a  number of  the  perpetrators were  victims,                                                               
also, and are still victims.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  thanked all the  testifiers for speaking  about a                                                               
very difficult  topic. He said he  hoped to work out  the details                                                               
of the bill. SB 31 was held in committee.                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB31 Version A.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Fiscal Note.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Sectional Analysis.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Legislative Research.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Warning Signs and Prevention Tools.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Erin's Law Map.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Fiscal Notes from Select States.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 FDNM-Governor Walker State of the State.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 - What is in Erin's Law.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Erin Merryn Sexual Abuse Survivor.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Letters of Support.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Letter of Support Update.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31
SB31 Opinion Piece.pdf SEDC 2/12/2015 3:30:00 PM
SB 31