Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/20/1995 09:05 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SHES - 2/20/95                                                                
        SB  83 COMMR OF ED TO SERVE AT GOV'S PLEASURE                        
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  SB 83  as the next order of business               
 before the committee and called the first witness.                            
 Number 412                                                                    
 JAN LEVY, Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Law,                
 stated she was present to answer legal questions regarding SB 83.             
 SENATOR MILLER asked if there is anyone from the administration               
 present to defend SB 83.  Upon realizing that no one was present              
 from the administration, Senator Miller suggested allowing the                
 Board of Education to give a one year contract, rather than a five            
 year contract.  One year contracts would be preferable rather than            
 the provision in SB 83.                                                       
 SENATOR SALO agreed with Senator Miller that the major issue behind           
 SB 83 was the contract issue.  She expressed her belief that the              
 selection process for the Commissioner of DOE has not been a mere             
 political appointee in the past.  She asked Ms. Levy if SB 83 would           
 change the procedure used to select the commissioner.  JAN LEVY               
 stated that SB 83 would not make any changes to the selection                 
 process for the Commissioner's for DOE.                                       
 SENATOR SALO asserted the importance of the commissioner of DOE to            
 be more than a mere political appointee.  She expressed the need to           
 eliminate the possibility of having to pay off a contract.  This              
 change seems to address these concerns.                                       
 Number 451                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER thought that the language "at the pleasure of the              
 Governor" would make the commissioner a political appointee.                  
 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that SB 83 would appear to solve a current              
 problem, however, it brings other questions to her mind.  She asked           
 who was the head of DOE.                                                      
 JAN LEVY clarified that the head of DOE is the Board of Education             
 which is determined by the legislature.  The constitution allows              
 the legislature to create a board as the head of a principal                  
 department, and that is what it has done in this case.  The                   
 constitution also provides that the legislature may, by law, permit           
 a board that is at the head of a department to appoint a principal            
 executive officer.  She noted the one caveat; the person appointed            
 as principal executive officer of the department would be subject             
 to the approval of the governor.                                              
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if the principal executive officer would be              
 the head of the department or the executive officer of the board.             
 JAN LEVY stated that the commissioner would be the principal                  
 executive officer of the department.  The governor appoints the               
 board of education.  So the board and the governor would most                 
 likely have a philosophically cohesive plan.  Although members to             
 the Board of Education are appointed for five-year terms, by                  
 statute members serve at the pleasure of the governor.                        
 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that currently, the commissioner is subject             
 to the instruction of the board.  JAN LEVY believed the board could           
 ask the commissioner to resign, but currently the board can only              
 ask the commissioner to resign with cause.  SB 83 would give the              
 board more leeway in asking a commissioner to resign.                         
 Number 499                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER thought SB 83 would cause the commissioner of DOE to           
 have two bosses: the Board of Education and the governor.  He felt            
 SB 83 would make the commissioner more of a political appointee               
 than the current method.                                                      
 SENATOR SALO thought the intent of SB 83 was to ensure that the               
 commissioner of DOE would not be in an ultra-protected category.              
 Perhaps, one solution would be to specify that the board shall not            
 offer a contract for a term exceeding the term of the sitting                 
 governor.  She recommended holding the bill to explore that option.           
 CHAIRMAN GREEN  agreed and expressed the need to have input from              
 the administration.                                                           
 SENATOR LEMAN concurred with Senator Salo's concern and proposed              
 solution.  He also expressed concern with determining at whose                
 pleasure the commissioner serves.  He suggested that the                      
 commissioner should serve at the pleasure of the board which would            
 leave the question:  Should removal of a commissioner be for cause            
 or at the pleasure of the board?  He was disappointed that there              
 was no one present representing the governor's office.                        
 Number 525                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN said that SB 83 seemed to require multiple changes             
 in statute.  She agreed that SB 83 should be held in committee.               
 She noted that the committee had requested representation from the            
 governor's office.  The committee would request input from the                
 governor's office again.  She noted the agenda of the next meeting.           

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