Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1995 09:05 AM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.