Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

02/25/2022 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 198 Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          SB 146-UNIVERSITY: TEXTBOOKS/MATERIALS COST                                                                       
9:28:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   HOLLAND  reconvened   the  meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration of  SENATE BILL NO.  146 "An Act relating  to costs                                                               
of and charges for textbooks  and other course materials required                                                               
for University of Alaska courses;  and providing for an effective                                                               
9:28:58 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS,  District  B, Alaska  State  Legislator,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, stated that legislators are  unable to change the cost of                                                               
textbooks  by  dealing  with the  publishing  industry  directly.                                                               
Instead, SB 146  seeks to provide cost  transparency for students                                                               
so  they  will  know  the  cost  of  materials  before  selecting                                                               
courses. He provided the sponsor statement as follows:                                                                          
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     For  decades a  major roadblock  to the  acquisition of                                                                    
     higher  education  in  this  country  has  been  costs.                                                                    
     Students  in Alaska  and throughout  the United  States                                                                    
     often   find   themselves   in   difficult   situations                                                                    
     attempting  to  balance  the various  costs  of  higher                                                                    
     education such  a tuition, room  and board,  and course                                                                    
     materials. For many students cost  of material can be a                                                                    
     deciding factor  in the decision  to take a  course due                                                                    
     to the  sometimes-exorbitant prices of  required course                                                                    
     materials. Students often  find themselves as consumers                                                                    
     subject  to a  captive  market that  has experienced  a                                                                    
     colossal  growth   in  price  over  the   last  several                                                                    
     decades. The  costly and unique nature  of the textbook                                                                    
     and  course material  market has  led to  many students                                                                    
     being  forced to  "shop around"  and attempt  to engage                                                                    
     the market as informed consumers.                                                                                          
     The  Textbook Cost  Transparency Act  provides students                                                                    
     with vital information about  their textbook and course                                                                    
     materials  while  they  are  registering  for  classes,                                                                    
     allowing them to make  informed choices and financially                                                                    
     plan.  The  goal  of this  legislation  is  to  provide                                                                    
     students  with as  much information  regarding cost  as                                                                    
     early  as possible  in  the  registration process  with                                                                    
     clearly   defined  definitions   integrated  into   the                                                                    
     University  of Alaska's  shared  online course  catalog                                                                    
     (UAOnline). By  allowing students to see  which classes                                                                    
     come at "zero-cost" or "low-cost"  they will be able to                                                                    
     make more informed finical decisions more easily.                                                                          
     While  faculty will  remain the  paramount deciders  of                                                                    
     class materials, we believe  that by providing students                                                                    
     this  information we  will be  building towards  a more                                                                    
     equitable  and  cost-effective  University  System  for                                                                    
     students at the class level.                                                                                               
9:31:04 AM                                                                                                                    
DAWSON   MANN,  Staff,   Senator  Robert   Myers,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, read the sectional  analysis for SB
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     Section 1:  Page 1, Lines 4-6  This section establishes                                                                    
     that  this  act may  be  known  as the  "Textbook  Cost                                                                    
     Transparency Act".                                                                                                         
     Section 2: Page 1, Lines  7-14, Page 2, Lines 1-16 This                                                                    
     section  outlines the  information that  the University                                                                    
     of  Alaska  must  provide  in  the  University  systems                                                                    
     online course schedule relating  to class materials and                                                                    
     automatic  fees   required  for  the   materials.  This                                                                    
     section  provides   statute  definitions   for  "course                                                                    
     materials",   "online   course  schedule",   "zero-cost                                                                    
     resources", and "low-cost resources".                                                                                      
     This section also directs  that the universities online                                                                    
     course  schedule  must   include  search  functions  to                                                                    
     identify   courses   with  only   zero-cost   materials                                                                    
     Section 3: Page 2, Line  17 This section establishes an                                                                    
     effective date for the bill of July 1st, 2023.                                                                             
9:32:10 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS stated that as  a former history professor at the                                                               
University of  Alaska, he had experienced  frustration with minor                                                               
textbook  changes,  such as  chapter  numbering,  that have  left                                                               
students unable  to use a  sibling's textbook. He stated  he does                                                               
not want to  give textbook manufacturers the  advantage but asked                                                               
if there were any drawbacks to SB 146.                                                                                          
9:33:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS replied  that  a couple  of  organizations at  the                                                               
university  helped  craft  definitions  for  SB  146.  There  was                                                               
flexibility  in  determining  the   best  way  to  implement  the                                                               
concept.  He  stated  that  invited  testimony  could  share  any                                                               
drawbacks  they  see  in  SB  146, but  no  drawbacks  have  been                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS sought verification that  the intent of SB 146 is                                                               
not  to  interfere with  faculty  textbook  selection or  that  a                                                               
textbook could be used for a course university-wide.                                                                            
SENATOR MYERS  responded that it is  not the intent of  SB 146 to                                                               
tell  the faculty  which  textbooks  to use.  It  only asks  that                                                               
information be released so students  can make informed choices in                                                               
course selection.                                                                                                               
SENATOR  STEVENS  expressed  concern   that  SB  146  could  have                                                               
unintended consequences that might disadvantage students.                                                                       
9:33:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked how many states have a bill like SB 146.                                                                   
SENATOR  MYERS   stated  SB  146   was  modeled   after  Maryland                                                               
legislation passed in  2020. Washington, Oregon, and  a few other                                                               
states have similar  legislation. He deferred to Mr.  Mann for an                                                               
exact  number and  stated that  textbook costs  have been  rising                                                               
across the country.                                                                                                             
MR. MANN  replied that  Maryland, Oregon,  and Texas  had similar                                                               
legislation  and   other  states   like  Louisiana   had  related                                                               
statutes.  The   definition  of   low-cost  material   came  from                                                               
Louisiana after conversing with university representatives.                                                                     
9:35:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  stated he  was aware that  Maryland had  passed a                                                               
similar  bill.  Senator  Cheryl   Kagan,  a  Maryland  colleague,                                                               
identified  that it  was Senator  Rosapepe's bill.  He stated  he                                                               
reached  out to  Maryland for  its  equivalent of  a fiscal  note                                                               
after seeing  that the fiscal note  for SB 146 was  an outrageous                                                               
ongoing $822,900.  He stated he  was shocked that  the university                                                               
had produced  a fiscal note showing  an ongoing cost of  nearly a                                                               
million dollars  following implementation  just to  tell students                                                               
the  value of  a  textbook. He  read  Maryland's fiscal  summary,                                                               
"Once the  online scheduling applications have  been updated, USM                                                               
[University of  Maryland] institutions  can make  the information                                                               
regarding course materials available  using existing resources as                                                               
explained  below.  Revenues  are   not  materially  affected,  as                                                               
effectively  a  zero   fiscal  note  after  the   first  year  of                                                               
implementation."  He asked  if the  sponsor  or university  could                                                               
speak to the fiscal note.                                                                                                       
9:36:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS responded  that  he received  the  fiscal note  on                                                               
Monday.  The  university did  not  give  specifics but  expressed                                                               
interest in addressing the committee.                                                                                           
SENATOR BEGICH  stated he would  like to hear how  the university                                                               
justified an  ongoing expense of  nearly $1 million  when another                                                               
state has implemented a similar law with no ongoing cost.                                                                       
9:37:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  stated she was  shocked by the narrative  for the                                                               
fiscal  note and  found it  concerning.  It allows  one hour  per                                                               
course for  faculty or staff  to enter the  textbook information,                                                               
and  there are  13,671 courses  offered. She  opined that  having                                                               
been an  instructor, entering the  data should take  five minutes                                                               
or less.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR BEGICH  added that  the University  of Maryland  has over                                                               
40,000 students,  which is larger  than the University  of Alaska                                                               
and offers as many, if not more, courses.                                                                                       
9:38:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND opened invited testimony on SB 146.                                                                               
9:38:54 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
9:39:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND   reconvened  the  meeting  and   resumed  invited                                                               
testimony on SB 146.                                                                                                            
9:39:48 AM                                                                                                                    
SARA PERMAN,  State Government  Relations Manager,  University of                                                               
Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska, stated  that the university's priority                                                               
is  to  educate  Alaskans  and   expand  the  Alaskan  workforce.                                                               
Education must  be as  accessible and  affordable as  possible to                                                               
accomplish this. Having costs available  upfront for students has                                                               
value because  it eliminates surprises. The  university has taken                                                               
several  measures   to  make  cost  transparency   accessible  to                                                               
students by creating a list  of textbooks and course materials so                                                               
they can know the cost before taking a course.                                                                                  
UAA  has a  zero-cost  textbook program  (ZCT).  It can  purchase                                                               
books,  and  students  can  access  the  materials  free  through                                                               
licensing with  the Alaska  Consortium Library.  The university's                                                               
online bookstore lists the materials  needed for a course and the                                                               
cost. This  summer, zero textbook  courses will be marked  in the                                                               
scheduling platform and the registration  course catalog. UAF has                                                               
material costs, course fees, and  registration fees listed on its                                                               
online  bookstore for  students to  view before  registering. The                                                               
online course  catalog has  a search option  for no-cost  or low-                                                               
cost courses.  UAS's open initiative  brought forward  by faculty                                                               
and students in  2016 says they would  like textbook transparency                                                               
and lower costs. In 2021 almost 30 percent of courses used no-                                                                  
cost materials.  A no-cost  marker to  flag no-cost  materials is                                                               
being developed for online registration.                                                                                        
9:43:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PERMAN stated that regarding  the fiscal note, the university                                                               
flagged areas of  SB 146 that it found concerning.  There are two                                                               
portions  of  pricing,  upfront   capital  cost  and  an  ongoing                                                               
component. The  initial component  of $397,500  is to  update the                                                               
university's information  technology system so it  can align with                                                               
SB 146.  The system  is from  the early 90s.  It is  an extensive                                                               
background system that is old  and tough to navigate. Many online                                                               
components  cannot  be  utilized   because  the  system  contains                                                               
student registration,  financial fees, employee costs,  and other                                                               
private information. A  capital request for $20  million has been                                                               
made to help  upgrade the system because presently  it is onerous                                                               
to  update. Obtaining  the capacity  to store  course information                                                               
and material lists requires the  Office of Information Technology                                                               
to  design,   develop,  test,  and  implement   the  capabilities                                                               
described  in   the  legislation.  This  includes   building  new                                                               
integrations  with  multiple  third-party  software  vendors  and                                                               
refactoring  the   course  catalog  to   support  differentiation                                                               
between  materials for  the same  course catalog.  The university                                                               
has  13,671 courses.  Instructors can  choose the  materials they                                                               
want even  when a class  is duplicative. Entering all  the pieces                                                               
into the  system will require  third-party software  and internal                                                               
staff hours.                                                                                                                    
9:45:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  PERMAN said  the  estimate for  3   party contractors  would                                                               
charge $200  per hour for  1500 hours. Internal staff  to rebuild                                                               
the  system would  be $65  per hour  at 1500  hours. This  is how                                                               
$397,500   was  determined   for  the   front-end  work   of  the                                                               
university's banner system.                                                                                                     
9:45:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PERMAN  said that  in addressing  the ongoing  cost component                                                               
the  university recognized  that some  professors would  know the                                                               
course  materials  needed,  the  costs,  and  how  to  enter  the                                                               
information quickly.  However, some  courses, like those  high in                                                               
software components,  would be more difficult  for instructors to                                                               
track down. So, while it  may take some instructors five minutes,                                                               
others  may take  more  than  an hour.  Therefore,  one hour  per                                                               
course at  $60 per hour was  used to reach $822,900,  including a                                                               
$2,600  component from  information  technology  to maintain  the                                                               
more extensive banner system.                                                                                                   
MS.  PERMAN  relayed that  during  yesterday's  board of  regents                                                               
meeting,  the  coalition of  student  leaders  was encouraged  by                                                               
efforts to  provide cost transparency in  course materials across                                                               
all university systems.  It is an effort the board  of regents is                                                               
very  interested  in  and  would   like  to  see  continued.  The                                                               
university also  wants it but  does not  want to take  money away                                                               
from education programs to cover administrative costs.                                                                          
9:47:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH stated  the university is already  going through a                                                               
process to make costs more transparent.  It can be done under the                                                               
current budget without  a fiscal note for SB 146.  He opined that                                                               
the fiscal note  implies the university does not  support SB 146.                                                               
He suggested  the vice  chancellor speak about  this and  why the                                                               
university  might not  support SB  146. He  mentioned Ms.  Perman                                                               
describing a  process designed to  keep the cost  of transparency                                                               
ongoing. He  asked whether this  cost was  in the budget  and, if                                                               
so,  to identify  it. He  supports the  university's $20  million                                                               
request to  upgrade its computer  system and asked why  funds for                                                               
cost transparency could  not be included in  that capital request                                                               
since it  is not yet funded  or implemented. He stated  he is not                                                               
satisfied that the  fiscal note is fair. Whether  in the minority                                                               
or  the  majority, legislators  rely  on  departments to  provide                                                               
accurate  fiscal notes.  It  is critical.  He  gave an  anecdotal                                                               
example of finding $4 million  in inflated Medicaid Reform fiscal                                                               
notes. He  stated that  the description of  what the  fiscal note                                                               
entails was substantial, but the numbers were unsatisfactory.                                                                   
9:50:48 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
9:51:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND reconvened the meeting.                                                                                           
9:51:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL CIRI, Vice Chancellor for  Administration and Director of                                                               
Information Technology,  University of Alaska  Southeast, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, stated  he is essentially  the chief financial  and chief                                                               
information officer at the University  of Alaska Southeast (UAS).                                                               
He said he  takes primary responsibility for the  fiscal note and                                                               
would  be transparent  in disclosing  the degree  to which  costs                                                               
were  known when  creating it.  He declared  his support  for the                                                               
goals in SB  146. He has led  a team on course  scheduling at UAS                                                               
for 20 years with a specific  goal to make course costs accurate,                                                               
itemized, and  available at the  time of registration.  He stated                                                               
his  belief  that  this  goal is  shared  across  the  university                                                               
system,  and he  is  passionate  about it.  However,  it is  more                                                               
difficult to achieve than it seems.                                                                                             
9:53:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. CIRI said he began  his career in information technology (IT)                                                               
and considers  it a  responsibility to be  clear about  costs and                                                               
risks.  IT  projects  tend  to become  far  more  expensive  than                                                               
necessary, and cost overruns are  typical. Therefore, he tries to                                                               
ascertain how  costs might  escalate. He said  he would  like the                                                               
goals of cost transparency to  be accomplished within the student                                                               
modernization project.  However, no funding for  that project has                                                               
been  received, and  the effective  date  of SB  146 begins  long                                                               
before  the student  modernization  project  would be  completed.                                                               
Therefore, the fiscal  note for SB 146 assumed there  would be no                                                               
funding  from  the  modernization  project. He  agreed  that  the                                                               
modernization  of UAS's  Student  Information  (SI) System  would                                                               
help  solve cost  transparency obstacles  and  other issues  that                                                               
students  face.  UAS's  information  system  does  not  have  the                                                               
ability to store the data  needed to achieve cost transparency. A                                                               
contract with the current vendor  would be necessary to learn how                                                               
to  modify  the system  to  store  the data.  Federal  regulation                                                               
requires  that textbook  costs be  visible to  students. This  is                                                               
achieved   through  the   bookstore  systems   at  the   time  of                                                               
registration.  There  is  currently   no  way  to  integrate  the                                                               
workload  entered  into the  bookstore  systems  with the  course                                                               
schedule found in the SI system.                                                                                                
9:56:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. CIRI  stated he  takes responsibility  for the  one-hour cost                                                               
estimate for  faculty to enter  the textbook and  materials data.                                                               
The estimate was not just for  faculty time but included the cost                                                               
for the help  desk and staff to resolve  technical and compliance                                                               
issues  that faculty  encounter. The  methodology for  moving the                                                               
needle  on  textbook  cost  transparency   has  been  to  educate                                                               
faculty.  SB 146  would create  a need  for staff  to engage  and                                                               
ensure  new   and  adjunct   faculty  fulfill   their  compliance                                                               
obligations. He reiterated that  one hour represented faculty and                                                               
other  staff  involvement. He  further  noted  that there  is  no                                                               
system in place  for textbook cost transparency,  so the workload                                                               
for faculty members is unknown.                                                                                                 
9:58:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. CIRI  stated he has worked  for the university for  40 years,                                                               
and  reducing  student  costs  is  very  important,  but  he  has                                                               
concerns  about unintended  consequences  from SB  146. He  asked                                                               
whether the university  would be considered out  of compliance if                                                               
course materials changed  between the time a  schedule was posted                                                               
and  a course  began. He  asked whether  SB 146  would discourage                                                               
faculty  from practicing  continuous  improvement. Faculty  would                                                               
need to post resource decisions  eight months before the start of                                                               
a semester.  For example, in  the fall semester,  resources would                                                               
need to be  posted by the end of the  preceding fall semester. He                                                               
asked for clarification  on how adjunct faculty  would be handled                                                               
when brought  in to teach a  class after the course  schedule has                                                               
been posted, but  a decision on the materials for  the course has                                                               
not  been decided.  He  affirmed that  as  a director,  complying                                                               
would  be a  goal. However,  a push  for strict  compliance could                                                               
create barriers for faculty trying  to find low-cost alternatives                                                               
to  the  original textbooks  they  picked  before a  schedule  is                                                               
posted. He  stated his  preference is for  faculty to  make their                                                               
own choices.                                                                                                                    
10:00:11 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  he did  not  want his  comments to  sound                                                               
nefarious.  However, the  university  could have  done better  in                                                               
reaching out to  the sponsor with ideas to improve  SB 146 rather                                                               
than  dropping a  fiscal note  bomb that  committee members  find                                                               
unacceptable.  He  stated  that   course  catalogs  are  reviewed                                                               
annually and  suggested that  each textbook  in the  system could                                                               
have  a  unique  identifier.  Since  prices  change,  the  course                                                               
catalog could provide  an approximate price, while a  link to the                                                               
course  materials could  provide  the actual  cost. He  suggested                                                               
that the university  speak with the sponsor and  determine how to                                                               
make  cost  transparency  happen.   He  stated  his  belief  that                                                               
universities should  not be dragged into  the nefarious practices                                                               
of  publishing  companies.  SB  146  will  force  instructors  to                                                               
consider the  textbook's value relative  to its cost  and benefit                                                               
to the  students. He opined  that the  effective date for  SB 146                                                               
could  be  adjusted  until other  options  became  available.  He                                                               
provided  three  reasons  why the  university  would  present  an                                                               
inaccurate fiscal  note to  the committee: it  does not  like the                                                               
bill, wants to justify its  capital budget request, or intends to                                                               
offset budget reductions. He opined  that SB 146 does not deserve                                                               
to be  negatively impacted  for any of  those reasons.  He stated                                                               
that committee members  are tired of seeing fiscal  notes used as                                                               
a game.                                                                                                                         
10:04:07 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. CIRI stated that working with  the sponsor of SB 146 would be                                                               
a welcomed  opportunity. He is  on the steering committee  for SI                                                               
modernization and is  passionate about obtaining it.  Some of the                                                               
suggestions are  the types of  ideas being contemplated.  He said                                                               
the  intent of  the  fiscal note  was as  he  presented and  none                                                               
other. While  there are  thousands of  faculty members,  those he                                                               
has talked  with deeply care  about textbook costs.  The progress                                                               
and efforts  that were  heard have been  led by  faculty directly                                                               
involved  in reducing  textbook costs.  He assured  the committee                                                               
that  he  is  committed  to  working  on  ways  to  achieve  cost                                                               
transparency. He  stated his  concern is with  SB 146  itself. He                                                               
recognizes that  the role of  the faculty needs to  be respected.                                                               
The gap  in cost information is  already being made visible  by a                                                               
faculty member  through the bookstore  system. Finding  ways that                                                               
accomplish  the goal  of reducing  textbook costs  and increasing                                                               
transparency  will  benefit  the university,  students,  and  the                                                               
10:05:59 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BEGICH  stated that he  sees the  need to upgrade  a 1995                                                               
computer system. He asked if  the upgrade would eliminate most of                                                               
the costs in the fiscal note.                                                                                                   
10:06:37 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  CIRI responded  that, as  an IT  director, he  is passionate                                                               
about automation, and it is  offensive that the university cannot                                                               
integrate systems. Anytime information  is entered more than once                                                               
state  money is  wasted, which  drives  up the  cost of  tuition.                                                               
Textbook  information  should only  be  entered  once per  course                                                               
section. That  entry should  feed into the  bookstore and  the SI                                                               
systems. It should  be visible in the course schedule  and on the                                                               
course websites published  to students. He said that  if a system                                                               
like this  were in place, his  main concern with SB  146 would be                                                               
compliance. It would  need to be clear  whether refining textbook                                                               
lists  would be  allowed once  a course  schedule was  posted and                                                               
registration began.                                                                                                             
10:07:59 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH  replied  that   he  appreciated  the  compliance                                                               
concern  and  suggested  the sponsor  could  address  it  through                                                               
nuanced language  or perhaps in  a way managed by  another state.                                                               
He said he  would like to meet with the  university to review the                                                               
$20 million capital  budget request for a new system  and be part                                                               
of helping to achieve it.                                                                                                       
10:08:35 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND opened public testimony.                                                                                          
10:09:04 AM                                                                                                                   
JEFFRY CREWS, representing self, Anchorage,  Alaska, said he is a                                                               
US Coast  Guard veteran  who returned to  school after  a 20-year                                                               
hiatus. The cost of textbooks has  gone up about 300 percent. His                                                               
veteran  affairs  book  stipend  provides  approximately  $350  a                                                               
semester, but  it is not  always enough. He  has paid $75  for an                                                               
online textbook that  he does not get  to keep. He is  on a fixed                                                               
salary as a retired veteran.  Unexpected expenses take money away                                                               
from rent and food. Twelve credit  hours a month are required for                                                               
a GI  bill housing stipend. He  would need to find  extra work to                                                               
afford  to attend  UAA without  it. UAA  has a  lot of  financial                                                               
objections to  SB 146 becoming  law. The university says  that it                                                               
is too expensive  to upgrade the system, and it  is already being                                                               
transparent. The military  uses the same tactic to kill  a new or                                                               
unpopular  regulation. Exceptional  people drive  the ideas  that                                                               
get  pushed forward.  The ideas  fall by  the wayside  once those                                                               
people are  gone. Course  marking will  be done  for a  while and                                                               
then  be replaced  or streamlined  if left  to universities.  The                                                               
people hurt  by this are  the students. SB 146  asks universities                                                               
to mark  the cost for  a class so  students can decide  if taking                                                               
the  class  fits  their  budget.   For  example,  when  taking  a                                                               
psychology class, he  signed up for a course that  required a $50                                                               
textbook. He  later learned  that a  different class  offered the                                                               
same course  using a  free online textbook.  He opined  that this                                                               
difference could impact a student's  ability to stay in school or                                                               
pass a  test. He knows of  students who felt they  had everything                                                               
needed for a course when  they purchased an electronic version of                                                               
a textbook but later learned  they needed a physical textbook for                                                               
quizzes and the  homework system. The university  may incur costs                                                               
to implement  SB 146, but  the costs  will be recouped  by having                                                               
additional students want to sign up for classes they can afford.                                                                
10:14:02 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND closed public testimony on SB 146..                                                                               
10:14:11 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  STEVENS   stated  he   knows  textbooks   are  extremely                                                               
expensive and the  cost can discourage students,  so finding ways                                                               
to lower costs  should be sought. However, he would  like to hear                                                               
the  opinion of  the  faculty  regarding SB  146.  He stated  his                                                               
belief that  faculty are concerned  about textbook costs  and the                                                               
impact   on   students.   He  has   concerns   about   unintended                                                               
consequences.  Strict compliance  means  restrictive lines  could                                                               
deny   or  discourage   professors  from   choosing  cutting-edge                                                               
material.  The   student  must  be  the   person  benefiting.  He                                                               
questioned whether  students would be denied  the most up-to-date                                                               
information by selecting only the free material.                                                                                
10:15:32 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES stated  that the compliance issue  could be easily                                                               
resolved by  having a  publication date with  a note  to students                                                               
that the  cost is subject  to change  and they should  check with                                                               
the bookstore for current pricing.  She said she would be willing                                                               
to work with the sponsor and  the university on language to amend                                                               
SB 146.  She agreed that  the discussion has been  excellent, and                                                               
there are issues to be worked  out. One problem could be resolved                                                               
by  moving the  effective date  of  SB 146  since the  university                                                               
requires a new SI system.                                                                                                       
10:16:56 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. PERMAN stated she appreciated  the concerns that were brought                                                               
up.  She  agreed   to  work  with  the   sponsor  earnestly.  The                                                               
university   values   textbook   cost   transparency   and   will                                                               
incorporate  feedback from  the committee.  She stated  she would                                                               
work with Senator Begich on the capital budget system request.                                                                  
10:17:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 146 in committee.