Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/06/1998 09:00 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
      SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                   
                         February 6, 1998                                      
                            9:00 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman                                                  
Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                             
Senator Lyda Green                                                             
Senator Jerry Ward                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                           
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
None                                                                           
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 21                                            
Relating to declaring March 1998 as Sobriety Awareness Month.                  
     MOVED SCR 21 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                             
                                                                               
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 19                                            
Relating to the use of prototype designs in public school                      
construction projects.                                                         
     MOVED CSSCR 199(HES)am OUT OF COMMITTEE                                   
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 241                                                            
"An Act relating to a tax credit program for postsecondary colleges            
or universities; and providing for an effective date."                         
     MOVED SB 241 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                             
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 237                                                            
"An Act extending the termination date of the Council on Domestic              
Violence and Sexual Assault."                                                  
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                   
                                                                               
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
                                                                               
SCR 21 - No previous Senate committee action.                                  
                                                                               
SCR 19 - See HESS minutes dated 1/28/98 and 2/4/98.                            
                                                                               
SB 241 - See HESS minutes dated 2/4/98.                                        
                                                                               
SB 237 - No previous committee action.                                         
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
Elmer Rasmussen                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 241.                                          
                                                                               
Don Dapcevich                                                                  
Executive Director                                                             
Advisory Board on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse                                      
P.O. Box 110608                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SCR 21                                           
                                                                               
Michael Morgan                                                                 
Facilities Manager                                                             
Department of Education                                                        
801 W. 10th Street, Suite 200                                                  
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1894                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SCR 19                                       
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-9, SIDE A                                                              
Number 001                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:07 a.m.   Present were                 
Senators Wilken, Leman, Ward, and Green.  The first order of                   
business was SCR 21.  CHAIRMAN WILKEN noted the committee is                   
awaiting an amendment to SCR 14 which will be heard next Wednesday.            
                                                                               
               SCR 21 - SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH                               
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD, sponsor of SCR 21, explained the measure designates              
the month of March as sobriety awareness month.  The resolution is             
meant to encourage sobriety as a solution and to honor it as a way             
of life.  SCR 21 brings attention to those who choose sobriety as              
a lifestyle, rather than to the diseases of alcoholism and drug                
abuse.  The Alaska Federation of Natives passed a resolution                   
supporting SCR 21 at its meeting the previous evening.                         
                                                                               
MR. DON DAPCEVICH, Executive Director of the Alaska Advisory Board             
on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, testified in support of SCR 21.  He              
thanked Senator Ward for introducing this measure, and pointed out             
so much time is spent concentrating on the negative consequences of            
substance abuse and alcoholism in Alaska, that very little time has            
been focussed on people who choose to live their lives free from               
those negative consequences.  SCR 21 provides the opportunity to               
celebrate people who choose to live healthy, productive lives.  He             
thought SCR 21 might encourage people who have never used or had               
alcohol or substance abuse problems to step forward and talk about             
that choice, especially with youth.                                            
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD thanked Mr. Dapcevich for his work in this field, and             
added sobriety is not something to be honored only during the month            
of March.                                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD moved SCR 21 out of committee with individual                     
recommendations.  There being no discussion or objection, the                  
motion carried.                                                                
                                                                               
                SCR 19 - PROTOTYPE SCHOOL DESIGN                               
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt CSSCR 19(HES), version F, with the                
handwritten phrase on page 2, line 16, as the working document of              
the committee.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                  
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN explained the changes made in version F as follows:            
     - on page 2, line 16, "K-6" was changed to "elementary" to be             
     consistent with other definitions in statute;                             
     -on page 2, line 16, "bond reimbursement and grant review                 
     committee" was added with the intent that DOE and the                     
     committee work together (that intent also applies to the                  
     resolve clause beginning on line 20);                                     
     -on page 2, line 22, the words "designs and" were added for               
     the purpose of clarification.                                             
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN said that although he does not disagree with                     
incorporating the bond reimbursement and grant review committee                
into the process, the reference to that committee on line 16                   
detracts from the concept of DOE consulting with the design                    
professionals and then with the committee.  Senator Leman indicated            
that the phrase is redundant because line 22 says the same thing.              
He suggested removing the reference to the bond reimbursement and              
grant review committee on page 2, line 16.                                     
                                                                               
Number 166                                                                     
                                                                               
MR. MORGAN stated that regardless of whether it is included in both            
places, DOE will consult with the bond reimbursement and grant                 
review committee.                                                              
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN suggested combining the first part of the line 14              
resolve clause with the last part of the resolve clause beginning              
on line 20 to accomplish their goal.  SENATOR LEMAN suggested                  
removing the phrase "the bond reimbursement and grant review                   
committee" on line 16 because it is already on line 22.                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated the statutes ask the bond reimbursement and             
grant review committee to work on prototype schools.  The DOE has              
authority to issue money.  The intent is to blend those two                    
activities.  MR. MORGAN thought the resolve clause beginning on                
line 20 fully captures that intent, particularly when combined with            
the statutory language that lays out the committee's duties.                   
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN moved to delete, from line 16, the handwritten words             
"the bond reimbursement and grant review committee," along with any            
other handwritten punctuation.  There being no objection, the                  
motion carried.                                                                
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked what words were deleted on line 15 after the             
word "Education."  SHEILA PETERSON, committee aide, answered the               
phrase "the bond reimbursement and grant review committee" was                 
deleted.                                                                       
                                                                               
MR. MORGAN expressed concern about the March 1 deadline in the                 
resolution.  CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Mr. Morgan to suggest an                    
acceptable date.  MR. MORGAN suggested April 2 so that a second                
meeting of the bond reimbursement and grant review committee could             
be scheduled in March, if necessary.  MR. MORGAN said if the                   
deadline pertains to the incentives only, and not the prototype                
designs, DOE could have recommendations prepared by mid-March.                 
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved to change the March 1, 1998 date on line 30,               
page 2, to March 15, 1998.  There being no objection, the motion               
carried.                                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN commented on a discussion that occurred in a House             
committee yesterday about the definition of "elementary."  MR.                 
MORGAN explained there is a definition in DOE regulations that                 
pertains to facilities.  Because of the space guidelines,                      
elementary is defined as K-6, secondary is defined as 7-12, and                
there is no definition of middle school.  Middle schools, for space            
and construction purposes, are considered the partial amount of                
whatever grades are in elementary and secondary combined.  He noted            
he did not comment on the fact that the original version of SCR 19             
contained K-6 because it made no difference.  During the House                 
committee discussion yesterday, the range of possibilities was                 
raised.  He has not had a chance to determine how many elementary              
schools are on the list but plans to do so in the next few days.               
Mr. Morgan commented that as this topic is explored, he intends to             
look into what other schools will fit, in addition to elementary               
schools because DOE receives many requests from small communities              
for K-12 schools.                                                              
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Mr. Morgan to provide the committee with a               
copy of the regulation containing the definitions.                             
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN stated the Anchorage School District was interested              
in revising the definitions because the definitions impact funding             
for the various units.                                                         
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN thought what drives the definition is not a statute            
or regulation, but the program that a particular place needs, and              
it could be called almost anything.  MR. MORGAN agreed and said                
that the current definition gives districts maximum flexibility.               
                                                                               
Number 324                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN repeated his apprehension about directing DOE to                 
develop prototype designs, and said he would prefer that DOE be the            
repository of designs, outline specifications and standard details             
that could be used by designers.  He expressed concern that DOE                
will be unable to develop sufficient numbers of designs for the                
different conditions in Alaska.                                                
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN pointed out this is a major undertaking and is not             
something that can be thrown together by March 15, 1998, but if it             
is done correctly, it can benefit all.  Yesterday, during the                  
discussion in the House, there was discussion about the State                  
imposing school designs upon communities.  He emphasized that is               
not the intent of the resolution.  The goal is to provide a school             
that districts will want and embrace, knowing the school will be               
good for the program the district is trying to put forth in its                
individual communities.                                                        
                                                                               
SENATOR WARD moved CSSCR 19(HES), as amended on line 31, from                  
committee with individual recommendations.  There being no                     
objection, the motion carried.                                                 
                                                                               
Number 241                                                                     
                                                                               
            SB 241 - POSTSECONDARY SCHOOL TAX CREDIT                           
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated he reviewed SB 140, relating to tax credits             
for contributions to education, after Senator Ellis commented on               
it, and his recollections were correct.  SB 140 has a $2 million               
fiscal note, and raises concerns about how one would direct money              
to a particular school.  He thought trying to combine SB 241 and SB
140 would slow down Senator Leman's efforts, therefore he planned              
to hold SB 140 at this time.                                                   
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN said he had no problem addressing the other issue as             
it has validity, but agreed with Chairman Wilken's assessment that             
incorporating SB 140 would create a much larger issue than the                 
narrow issue addressed in SB 241.  He noted he would like to see a             
version of both bills pass as they both benefit education and offer            
various choices to students and parents, but he agreed with                    
Chairman Wilken's conclusion.                                                  
                                                                               
SENATOR ELLIS informed committee members Mr. Rasmussen would like              
both bills to pass, because they would benefit his philanthropy                
efforts toward the Alaska Bible College and the University of                  
Alaska.   Senator Ellis hoped the committee would consider                     
expanding this whole concept.  He asked Senator Leman if he gave               
any consideration to a two-tiered system of tax credits when                   
drafting the bill.  SENATOR LEMAN thought the Legislature should               
revisit the tax credit legislation, however he thought current                 
recipients of the program might be concerned.                                  
                                                                               
Number 415                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR ELLIS expressed concern that at some point in the future               
the argument that general fund obligations to the University of                
Alaska, Sheldon Jackson College, and Alaska Pacific University                 
should be reduced will gain credibility and be used as an excuse to            
cut public funds for higher education for both private and public              
institutions, because of the tax advantages granted by the                     
Legislature.                                                                   
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN said he served on the Mapco Alaska Advisory Board              
for a number of years.  That board passed out money Mapco wanted to            
donate in the State.  Mapco Alaska has been a major benefactor of              
the University and has benefited from the tax credits.  Concern                
about the same argument expressed by Senator Ellis surfaced in                 
Fairbanks.  He said it is not his intent to lower general fund                 
obligations to the University just because legislation enhances                
Alaska's educational institutions' ability to get private                      
donations.                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN stated that was not his intent either; his intent was            
to encourage philanthropy.  He emphasized he did not want to get               
into a long discourse on tax credits and changing that structure in            
SB 241, because that will be a lengthy process that should and can             
be done in the future.                                                         
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN moved SB 241 out of committee with individual                    
recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced that next Wednesday, February 11, SCR 14             
will be before the committee and the State Independent Living                  
Council will giving a presentation.  He adjourned the meeting at               
9:38 a.m.                                                                      

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