Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/12/1993 02:23 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER introduced  SB 180  (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION DEBT                 
 30  (SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE FUND) as the next order                
 of business.                                                                  
 BOB POE, staff to Senator Drue Pearce, Co-chair of the Senate                 
 Finance Committee, said the three pieces of legislation                       
 comprise a complete package of an approach to deal with the                   
 problems of school construction, school repair and school                     
 maintenance in the state.                                                     
 SB 180 reestablishes reimbursement of school construction debt                
 and provides for an effective date.  It accomplishes some key                 
 things in terms of reimbursement of debt that have not been                   
 seen in the past.  It changes the portion that the state would                
 pay of any debt to 70 percent.  Also, it establishes a debt                   
 limit for how much debt a community could incur.  Further, it                 
 places a sunset on the bill of March 31, 1997.                                
 SB 181 relates to grants for school construction, and there                   
 are some key changes to the way school construction projects                  
 are identified right now.  It sets a grant review committee,                  
 and the committee is designed to make sure that people                        
 knowledgeable about construction and facility management are                  
 involved in reviewing school construction projects to assure                  
 that they are a cost-effective reasonable solution to the                     
 problem that the school project is trying to address.  It also                
 advises the committee that they shall evaluate each grant                     
 request based on five factors.  The bill further provides that                
 there shall be four basic types of school designs to assure                   
 that the school infrastructure that is built through state                    
 dollars around the state is uniform in its quality, that it                   
 guarantees an equivalent kind of facility for any student in                  
 the state.                                                                    
 Number 198                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN directed attention to a letter he received from                 
 an Anchorage engineer suggesting an amendment to Section 4,                   
 which relates to the four basic school designs, that he                       
 believes goes directly to the point of the intent of the                      
 legislation, but is less onerous than the existing wording.                   
 Number 212                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER referred to page 3, line 2 of SB 181, which                   
 speaks to the factors that the grant review committee must                    
 evaluate.  He said the last time a list like that was put in                  
 statute it was interpreted to mean that all of number one                     
 would have to be satisfied before they commenced with number                  
 two.  He said he does not think that was the sponsor's intent,                
 and suggested that it should be reworded.  BOB POE agreed that                
 was not the sponsor's intent.                                                 
 Number 230                                                                    
 DUANE GUILEY, Department of Education, stated that the                        
 department has reviewed the two bills and has worked together                 
 with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities in                  
 developing the fiscal note and analyzing the legislation.  The                
 department has some concerns about the bills in that some                     
 specific portions are not clear to them as to what the intent                 
 Mr. Guiley said in establishing the cap in SB 180 on how much                 
 debt a community can incur, the department reads the cap as                   
 to apply to other nonreimbursed debt.  He referred to language                
 on page 4, line 5, which sets the limit based upon population                 
 size, and he pointed out that some of the smallest communities                
 in the state are, in fact, the wealthiest communities in the                  
 state in relation to ability to pay, and they have the lowest                 
 limit of debt in this language.                                               
 In Section 3 of SB 180, which requires the department to                      
 evaluate the projects, the department has some concern as to                  
 whether or not that evaluation would be concurrent with the                   
 existing process evaluation, or if this would establish a                     
 separate evaluation.                                                          
 Turning to SB 181 and the establishing of a grant review                      
 committee, Mr. Guiley said the department has concern as to                   
 whether or not they can find members of this background in the                
 state that do not, in fact, have a conflict of interest in                    
 that they are not participating contractors for school                        
 districts that would be scheduled to be applying for projects,                
 as well as whether or not the individuals would serve on the                  
 committee at no compensation.  Addressing the prototypical                    
 type of school design required in the legislation, the                        
 department looked at grant projects that have been recently                   
 awarded by the state and the architectural fees associated                    
 with those projects, as well as the need for schools of                       
 varying sizes at all three levels, and they arrived at a                      
 fiscal note in excess of $30 million.                                         
 Number 267                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER questioned the architectural fees if what is                  
 being called for in the bill is generic projects rather than                  
 custom projects.  DUANE GUILEY answered that it is the                        
 department's understanding that these would be more or less                   
 generic projects within the different regions of the state,                   
 but also, within those different regions, there would be                      
 facilities of varying sizes.  SENATOR LEMAN commented that                    
 there are some things that can't be done generically and they                 
 have to be unique for where that building is located.  He said                
 there is going to be a certain amount of design that is going                 
 to have to be custom for any specific site.                                   

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