Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/15/1996 09:10 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         April 15, 1996                                        
                           9:10 a.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Lyda Green, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                            
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 All members present.                                                          
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 HOUSE BILL NO. 30                                                             
 "An Act relating to a dress code for public schools."                         
 HOUSE BILL NO. 93 am                                                          
 "An Act relating to the duty-free mealtime for teachers in certain            
 school facilities."                                                           
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 339(JUD) am                                             
 "An Act relating to children-in-need-of-aid proceedings; relating             
 to the termination of parental rights of incarcerated parents; and            
 providing for an effective date."                                             
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 480(HES)                                                
 "An Act relating to physician assistants." was not referred to the            
 Senate Health, Education & Social Services Committee at this time.            
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB 30 - No Senate action to record.                                           
 HB 93 - No Senate action to record.                                           
 HB 339 - No Senate action to record.                                          
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Jonathan Sperber, Staff                                                       
 Representative Bettye Davis                                                   
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Read the sponsor statement.                              
 Paul Berg                                                                     
 8505 Mendenhall Loop Road                                                     
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 30.                                         
 Nancy Buell, Director                                                         
 Division of Teaching and Learning Support                                     
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 W 10th Street, Suite 200                                                  
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1894                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed neutrality on HB 30.                           
 Carl Rose, Executive Director                                                 
 Alaska Association of School Boards                                           
 316 W 11th Street                                                             
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1510                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 30.                                         
 Myrna McGhie, Staff                                                           
 Representative James                                                          
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained HB 93.                                         
 Representative Rokeberg                                                       
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime sponsor of HB 339.                                 
 Peggy Thomas, Foster Parent                                                   
 9208 Long Run Drive                                                           
 Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Urged support of HB 339.                                 
 Diane Worley, Director                                                        
 Division of Family & Youth Services                                           
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 PO Box 110660                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0630                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 339.                                        
 Jan Rutherdale, Assistant Attorney General                                    
 Civil Division                                                                
 Department of Law                                                             
 PO Box 110300                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 339.                                        
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 96-33, SIDE A                                                            
                   HB  30 SCHOOL DRESS CODES                                  
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:10 a.m. and introduced                
 HB 30  as the first order of business before the committee.                   
 JONATHAN SPERBER, Staff to Representative Bettye Davis, read the              
 following sponsor statement:                                                  
 HB 30 would provide an important discretionary tool for school                
 districts to use in improving the health and safety of students and           
 teachers.  The bill is supported by the Association of Alaska                 
 School Boards, the Anchorage School District and the Kodiak Island            
 Borough School District.                                                      
 HB 30 is a response to gang-related behavior.  Gangs in Alaska, as            
 in the lower 48, use clothing to communicate.  In the Kodiak                  
 schools, for example, there have been violent fights involving                
 weapons as a result of who is wearing what colors.  Uniforms go a             
 long way toward providing a neutral coat of arms for children whose           
 clothing might otherwise make them targets.                                   
 The president of the Association of Alaska School Boards has said             
  To address some of the manifestations of these problems,                     
  schools must be given the tools to establish policies which                  
  promote optimum educational environments and protect the                     
  health and safety of kids and teachers.  In our opinion, HB 30               
  does this.                                                                   
 Adopting a school uniform policy would be voluntary under HB 30.              
 Additionally, parents would have the ability to exclude their                 
 children from wearing uniforms.  It has been the experience of                
 school districts in other states, however, that few students have             
 chosen to opt out of these very successful programs.                          
 In Charleston County, S.C., for example, where nearly half the                
 public schools have adopted voluntary uniform policies, educators             
 praise their leveling, egalitarian effect.  The students take pride           
 in their studies, viewing school as a place of work rather than               
 just somewhere to hang out with friends.                                      
 In Long Beach, Cal. school district, which includes 56 elementary             
 and 14 middle schools, adopting a school uniform policy reduced               
 physical fights by 51%, assault and battery cases by 34%, and                 
 suspensions by 32%.  In a recent nationwide survey of 5,500                   
 secondary school principals, 70% said they believe uniforms would             
 reduce violence.                                                              
 HB 30 also requires that a school district, in order to require               
 students to wear uniforms, must first determine that financial                
 resources are available to assist economically disadvantaged                  
 students.  It has been the experience of many parents that                    
 providing three uniforms per year for a child is far less expensive           
 than purchasing fashionable clothing.                                         
 Number 061                                                                    
 PAUL BERG, a 5th grade teacher at Glacier Valley School, informed             
 the committee that he had been a teacher in Alaska for 19 years.              
 He said that America's youth are in trouble.  The U.S. is topping             
 the charts in youth violence, suicide, teenage pregnancy, drug use,           
 and anti-social behavior.  This is an American cultural phenomena             
 which is supported in his investigations.  Mr. Berg informed the              
 committee that he does investigative searches for many                        
 Mr. Berg identified the following assumptions in American education           
 and the rearing of adolescents that appear to be flawed:                      
  *Adolescents should be left alone, so much is happening to                   
   them that adult influence is not necessary.                                 
  *Place little pressure from the adult world on adolescents                   
   because it may damage the children.                                         
  *Do not hold adolescents accountable academically or through                 
   criminal codes.                                                             
 Mr. Berg indicated that the children realize these assumptions.               
 This is facilitating youth dysfunction.  In cultures without the              
 problems or adolescent dysfunction experienced in America, two                
 basic patterns.  The first pattern of these other cultures is to              
 integrate the adolescent into the adult world very quickly.  For              
 example, in the area of Lausanne the adolescent is part of the                
 family and village economy by the time the adolescent is 14 years             
 old.  The adolescent is embraced by the adult society.  Therefore,            
 the trauma of becoming an adult is not experienced to the level as            
 in the U.S.  In more advanced industrial societies that do not                
 experience trauma in becoming an adult, another pattern is                    
 illustrated.  The adult world places much pressure, academic and              
 social, on the adolescent which is the opposite philosophy of that            
 in the U.S.  Frequently, these adolescents are required to wear               
 uniforms.  Uniforms are the extension of the adult world.  Mr. Berg           
 supported HB 30.  Uniforms are needed as a tool.                              
 Number 147                                                                    
 NANCY BUELL, Department of Education, said that the department has            
 no strong point of view.  The State Principals Association is also            
 neutral on this bill and does not foresee any difficulty in                   
 enforcing this.                                                               
 CARL ROSE, Alaska Association of School Boards, supported HB 30.              
 He discussed his visit with a Close-Up group recently in which                
 HB 30 was discussed.  If there is an opportunity to create a                  
 positive environment in schools with dress codes and input from the           
 community, that would positively reflect on the children as well.             
 CHAIRMAN GREEN brought up the issue of backpacks in the Anchorage             
 school district.  She inquired as to the will of the committee.               
 SENATOR SALO moved that HB 30 be reported out of committee with               
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
             HB  93 DUTY-FREE MEALTIME FOR TEACHERS                           
 Number 213                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  HB 93  as the next order of business               
 before the committee.                                                         
 BARBARA COTTING, Staff to Representative James, said that HB 93               
 would remove from statute the strict hours of 11:00 a.m. to 1:00              
 p.m. for duty free mealtime for teachers.  Many districts are in              
 violation of this statute.  Several school districts have requested           
 SENATOR LEMAN asked why the language " and the union representing            
 teachers " was in the bill; are all teachers in Alaska represented           
 by unions?  BARBARA COTTING said that this language was requested             
 throughout the process and the language was added on the floor.               
 Ms. Cotting believed that all teachers in Alaska are represented by           
 a union.                                                                      
 SENATOR LEMAN suggested that the language should read as follows,             
 "between the governing body and the teachers".                                
 SENATOR SALO pointed out that much of statute refers to "the                  
 recognized bargaining agent".  There are 54 school districts in               
 Alaska.  She believed that only one of those districts did not have           
 a union, although that would not preclude that district from having           
 a bargaining agent.  Senator Salo felt it correct to specify either           
 the "union" or "the recognized bargaining agent."                             
 SENATOR LEMAN inquired as to how the bill read before the language            
 was added.  BARBARA COTTING explained that there was a period after           
 "30 minutes" and the language "between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m."              
 was deleted.  The entire underlined section was added on the House            
 CHAIRMAN GREEN believed that this issue was present last session.             
 BARBARA COTTING said that it was part of another bill in the                  
 Number 270                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER said that he was leery of placing this because it              
 will be another item to be negotiated between the districts and the           
 unions.  Senator Miller moved that the underlined language " between         
 such hours as the governing body and the union representing                   
 teachers in a school district may specify " be deleted.                      
 SENATOR SALO objected.  She said that in most of Alaska a 30 minute           
 duty free mealtime did not happen before this statute.  The hours             
 were specified and did create some problems in a few districts.               
 The problem is with principals who have difficulty with scheduling.           
 Teachers can be given a lunch half hour between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00           
 p.m., but if districts were not held to that the possibility to               
 schedule lunch at inappropriate times would be allowed.  A teacher            
 who has not had the chance to have some lunch is not good for the             
 teacher or the students.  The duty free lunch is seldom duty free.            
 Senator Salo preferred adding the language "between 11:00 a.m. and            
 1:00 p.m., except where negotiated to be different."                          
 Upon a roll call vote regarding the adoption of the amendment,                
 Senators Green, Leman and Miller voted "Yea" and Senator Salo voted           
 "Nay".  Senator Ellis was not present at this time.  The amendment            
 was adopted.                                                                  
 SENATOR LEMAN moved to report SCS HB 93(HES) out of committee with            
 individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                 
 SENATOR SALO objected.                                                        
 Upon a roll call vote, Senators Green, Leman and Miller voted "Yea"           
 and Senator Salo voted "Nay".  Senator Ellis was not present at               
 this time.  SCS HB 93(HES) was reported out of committee.                     
        HB 339 TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RTS OF PRISONERS                       
 Number 331                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  HB 339  as the next order of business              
 before the committee.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG, Prime Sponsor, informed the committee that           
 HB 339 had five hearings in the House and was substantially amended           
 on the House floor.  HB 339 allows the courts to consider that a              
 parent is incarcerated when determining whether or not to terminate           
 parental rights.  When the courts determine whether to terminate              
 parental rights, the court must consider that the child is in need            
 of aid as a result of parental conduct as well as considering if              
 the conduct is likely to continue.  The case law in Alaska                    
 indicates that incarceration does not constitute willful                      
 abandonment which is the key to this issue.  Representative                   
 Rokeberg discussed the Nada A. v State case in which Alaska Supreme         
 Court Justice Compton wrote a dissenting opinion requesting that              
 the legislature pursue this issue.  This was reiterated in the case           
 A.M. v State of Alaska last year.  In both cases, the court did not         
 have the authority to consider parental incarceration as a form of            
 willful abandonment.                                                          
 Representative Rokeberg believed that the controversy in the bill             
 was resolved in the House by clarifying in statute that the length            
 of the parent's incarceration, the age of the child, and a                    
 significant amount of time would have to occur before this would be           
 considered.  The procedure to terminate parental rights is a                  
 lengthy, full hearing before the Superior Court in order to protect           
 the rights of everyone involved.  The state courts and departments            
 must consider the Indian Child Welfare Act because it is a federal            
 statute.  In conclusion, Representative Rokeberg urged support                
 HB 339.                                                                       
 Number 392                                                                    
 PEGGY THOMAS, foster parent, informed the committee that she was              
 the foster parent in the A.M. v State of Alaska.  When Ms. Thomas           
 received the two children, Mark was four and Samantha was 18 months           
 old.  The children have been with Ms. Thomas for six years.  The              
 Tlingit mother of the children has relinquished her parental rights           
 and would like the children to be available for adoption.  The                
 children have contact with their mother.  Currently, the father is            
 in prison in Palmer after being convicted of theft and sexual abuse           
 of a minor in the second degree.  The sexual abuse was against Mark           
 and Samantha's half sister.  There is no reconciliation for the               
 mother and father of Mark and Samantha.  She informed the committee           
 that the father is due to be released May 14th.  The children have            
 court ordered phone contact with their father every week.  She                
 emphasized that the children need some permanency.  Ms. Thomas                
 urged the committee to support HB 339.                                        
 SENATOR SALO inquired as to how HB 339 would effect Ms. Thomas'               
 case.  PEGGY THOMAS said that the bill will not effect her case.              
 SENATOR SALO asked how the bill could have effected Ms. Thomas'               
 case.  PEGGY THOMAS believed that the bill would have allowed the             
 judge to terminate the father's rights on the basis of the father's           
 background and the likelihood that the sexual abuse would continue.           
 SENATOR SALO asked Ms. Thomas if she expected the father to want              
 the children back.  PEGGY THOMAS replied yes.  The father must                
 complete some requirements of the Division of Family & Youth                  
 Services (DFYS) before he can have the children back.                         
 Number 432                                                                    
 DIANE WORLEY, Director of the Division of Family & Youth Services,            
 stated that the department supports HB 339.  This bill would not              
 effect all children of incarcerated parents, only a small number of           
 children would be impacted.  If there is a caring, loving parent in           
 charge of the children, then the children would not be in need of             
 aid.  This bill would only effect those cases in which a parent or            
 both parents were incarcerated for an extended amount of time, and            
 no arrangements had been made for the children.  The likelihood of            
 the conduct of the parent would also be a point to consider.  Ms.             
 Worley reiterated that HB 339 does not effect the Indian Child                
 Welfare act.  HB 339 would probably not impact a lot of cases, but            
 would help in cases such as Ms. Thomas'.                                      
 SENATOR LEMAN recalled a case in which two people murdered three              
 people in East Anchorage.  One of the murderers was a 13-year-old             
 girl who was subsequently convicted and incarcerated.  During her             
 incarceration, the 13-year-old became pregnant and delivered a                
 child.  That child was taken from the 13-year-old and raised by her           
 mother.  Senator Leman assumed that in such a case, the court would           
 want to terminate parental rights if possible.  Would HB 339 effect           
 such a case?                                                                  
 DIANE WORLEY explained that in such a case, the 13-year-old's                 
 parental rights may not be terminated if her mother was willing and           
 able to raise the child.  The decision to terminate parental rights           
 in such a case would also depend upon the wishes of the mother of             
 the 13-year-old.  The mother of the 13-year-old could also take               
 legal guardianship of the child.  There are many factors that could           
 be taken into account depending upon the circumstances.                       
 SENATOR MILLER in the same case posed by Senator Leman, what if a             
 third non-related party wanted to adopt the child?  Could HB 339 be           
 used to terminate parental rights or would it just make the process           
 easier?  DIANE WORLEY explained that DFYS first looks for relative            
 placement of a child.  If there are no relatives, then foster care            
 or adoption would be the next possibility.  In the case posed by              
 Senator Leman, if the 13-year-old was going to be incarcerated for            
 the majority of the child's youth then HB 339 could come into play.           
 Number 488                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if the termination of parental rights                    
 establishes long-term foster care or adoption.  Are those the                 
 options?  DIANE WORLEY clarified that the termination of parental             
 rights could result in adoption by a third party or a relative, a             
 guardianship, or a permanent foster adopt placement.                          
 SENATOR SALO inquired as to what would prevent a new hearing                  
 regarding the termination of parental rights in a case such as Ms.            
 Thomas' if the statute changed.  DIANE WORLEY understood that in              
 Ms. Thomas' case the father will be released soon.  If the father             
 is incarcerated again, then HB 339 would apply.  In Ms. Thomas'               
 case, the actions of the father could lead to the indications that            
 he is not a fit parent.                                                       
 SENATOR SALO said that waiting for the father to reoffend would               
 place the children in danger.  DIANE WORLEY agreed, but noted that            
 DFYS will do everything possible to protect the children.  If DFYS            
 feels that placing the children in the father's care would put the            
 children in danger, DFYS would not allow it to occur.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that Ms. Thomas' case is still            
 in litigation regarding such issues.                                          
 SENATOR GREEN understood that DFYS already has the authority to               
 assess whether an incarcerated parent who is released could                   
 adequately care for their children.   DFYS is concerned with                  
 parents who face long-term incarceration.  DIANE WORLEY agreed.               
 Number 522                                                                    
 JAN RUTHERDALE, Assistant Attorney General in the Department of               
 Law, stated that the department supports the passage of HB 339.               
 She informed the committee that she represented the state in Ms.              
 Thomas' case.  The state alleged many grounds, but the court only             
 went on one ground.  The case was reversed on that ground and                 
 remanded.  She pointed out that other grounds remain such as the              
 sexual abuse of the step-sister of the children.  Ms. Rutherdale              
 felt confident that the court would find that the children are in             
 imminent danger of sexual abuse.  This case is a sad comment on the           
 With HB 339, the termination of parental rights in such cases would           
 be easier.  The court would review if the parent would be                     
 incarcerated for a significant portion of the child's minority and            
 has the parent failed to make adequate arrangements for the child.            
 HB 339 would not come into play if permanent arrangements have been           
 made for the child.  Ms. Rutherdale said that HB 339 could apply to           
 someone in jail for a significant amount of time who has not made             
 arrangements for their child when the bill goes into effect.                  
 SENATOR MILLER moved to report CSHB 339(JUD) am with individual               
 recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes out of committee.               
 Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                      
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 was adjourned at 9:55 a.m.                                                    

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