Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/06/1998 09:00 AM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.