Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/14/1993 09:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                 SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                         April 14, 1993                                        
                            9:10 a.m.                                          
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
  Senator Loren Leman, Chairman                                                
  Senator Mike Miller, Vice Chairman                                           
  Senator Robin Taylor                                                         
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
  Senator Jim Duncan                                                           
  Senator Johnny Ellis                                                         
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 235(FIN)                                               
  "An Act relating  to educational  programs and services  for                 
  children  with disabilities  and other  exceptional children                 
  and  to  persons  with  a  handicap;  and  providing  for an                 
  effective date."                                                             
  SENATE BILL NO. 186                                                          
  "An Act relating to state agency publications."                              
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
  HB 235 - No previous action to record.                                       
  SB 186 - No previous action to record.                                       
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
  Myra Howe, State Director of Special                                         
  Department of Education                                                      
  801 W. 10th St., Suite 200                                                   
  Juneau, AK 99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on HB 235                           
  Dennis Wetherell                                                             
  P.O. Box 876862                                                              
  Wasilla, AK  99687                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Voiced concerns with HB 235                             
  Mark Grober                                                                  
  Nenana, AK                                                                   
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Voiced concerns with HB 235                             
  Brian Davis, Staff to Senator Steve Frank                                    
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on SB 186                           
  Rhonda Weiss, Legal Counsel                                                  
  Ms. C.J. Jenzano                                                             
  U.S. Department of Education                                                 
  Washington, D.C.                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on HB 235                           
  Willie Anderson                                                              
  105 Municipal Way                                                            
  Juneau, AK 99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports original version of HB 235                     
  Janice Levy                                                                  
  Department of Law                                                            
  P.O. Box 110300                                                              
  Juneau, AK 99811-0300                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on HB 235                           
  Jack Phelps, President                                                       
  Alaska Private & Home Educators Association                                  
  Juneau, AK                                                                   
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Suggested changes to HB 235                             
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 93-27, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  The meeting of the Senate State Affairs Committee was called                 
  to order by Chairman Loren Leman at 9:10 a.m.                                
  Number 010                                                                   
  SENATOR LEMAN  introduced CSHB 235(FIN) (SPECIAL EDUCATION &                 
  RELATED SERVICES) as the first order of business.                            
  MYRA HOWE,  State Director of  Special Education, Department                 
  of  Education,   explained  the   primary  purpose   of  the                 
  legislation  is  to come  into  compliance with  new federal                 
  requirements,  as  well as  some  cleanup language  that the                 
  Department of Law has suggested.                                             
  Ms. Howe  outlined the  following sections  which bring  the                 
  state into compliance with the federal law.                                  
  Section 8 of the bill  allows the school district to  take a                 
  parent to due process hearing for denial of initial  consent                 
  for evaluation of placement.                                                 
  Sections 11 and 20 deal with the definition of "consent."                    
  Section 22 adds "rehabilitation  services" to the definition                 
  of "related services."                                                       
  Section  24 adds autism  and traumatic  brain injury  as new                 
  disability  categories.     It  is  also  a   definition  of                 
  "educational records."                                                       
  Number 100                                                                   
  DENNIS   WETHERELL,  testifying   from  Anchorage   via  the                 
  teleconference network, said he was present as the concerned                 
  parent of a gifted child.                                                    
  Mr. Wetherell said he has had an opportunity to  look at the                 
  federal statutes, and he questioned  whether HB 235 actually                 
  complies with federal law at all in the areas in which it is                 
  intended to comply.                                                          
  Mr.  Wetherell  voiced  concern  with  the  gifted education                 
  provision  in the  bill.    He  said he  does  not  see  the                 
  connection between the provisions of  the bill which pertain                 
  to gifted education and compliance of disabilities law.                      
  Mr. Wetherell's  concern  stems from  previous  and  ongoing                 
  actions by the Department of Education.  HB 235 is identical                 
  in wording to  HB 419, which was introduced last year at the                 
  request  of  the  Department  of  Education and  would  have                 
  eliminated any reference to gifted education from state law,                 
  except that in  a few places  the clause "and gifted  child"                 
  has  been  inserted in  an  effort  to placate  parents  and                 
  educators of the gifted.   DOE has also has  had legislation                 
  introduced this year  which would reduce funding  for gifted                 
  education  40  percent and  separates gifted education  from                 
  special education for funding purposes.                                      
  Mr. Wetherell contended  that DOE's  goal is to  get out  of                 
  gifted education and turn all aspects of the program over to                 
  local school  boards.   Throughout the  United States  where                 
  such  actions  have  been  taken, the  effect  has  been  to                 
  virtually  eliminate  gifted  education  except  in  a   few                 
  scattered districts.                                                         
  Mr. Wetherell  does not believe  that existing state  law is                 
  strong enough with respect to gifted  education, and that HB
  235 weakens state law with respect to gifted education.                      
  Mr.  Wetherell outlined  three  amendments he  recommends be                 
  made to HB 235:  (1)  a new paragraph added to AS  14.30.278                 
  which requires  an IEP to be reviewed or revised on at least                 
  an  annual  basis,   or  upon  reasonable  request   of  the                 
  amendment;  (2) an  amendment  which  requires  each  school                 
  district to develop a plan of  service for every category of                 
  exceptional  child  served;  and (3)  amending  Section  24,                 
  paragraph  (9) to read:  "gifted  children mean children who                 
  exhibit outstanding intellect,  ability, or creative talent,                 
  as determined, using methods  of evaluation and  eligibility                 
  thresholds  defined   under  regulations   adopted  by   the                 
  Number 185                                                                   
  MARC GROBER, testifying  from Nenana via the  teleconference                 
  network, said  he had submitted  a point by  point sectional                 
  analysis  of all the problems included in HB 235, as well as                 
  other information to the committee.                                          
  Mr. Grober presented  a brief  history of HB  235, which  he                 
  said has been introduced in almost identical form during two                 
  previous legislatures, but  was killed in committee  on both                 
  occasions   because  every   parent  who   was   allowed  an                 
  opportunity to testify on the  bills testified against them.                 
  He contended that  there was limited opportunity  to testify                 
  on HB 235 in the House.                                                      
  Mr. Grober  said HB  235 is  not an  appropriate vehicle  to                 
  discuss gifted  education.   He  said if  the Department  of                 
  Education is being truthful and really only wants to  secure                 
  funding  from   the  federal  DOE,  then  he  thinks  it  is                 
  appropriate to essentially remove all the portions of HB 235                 
  that have to do with gifted education until gifted education                 
  can be addressed from educational standpoints as the rest of                 
  the state's special education issues.                                        
  Mr.  Grober  said  HB  235  is  poorly drafted  and  he  has                 
  submitted a draft committee substitute which  addressees the                 
  alleged demands of  DOE as far  as securing funding  without                 
  addressing the problems of gifted education, without denying                 
  parents of due process and  without the so-called caretaking                 
  changes which have  been undocumented  and unsupported.   He                 
  noted the  Governor's Council has  not endorsed HB  235, nor                 
  has any parent organization endorsed the bill.                               
  Number 322                                                                   
  SENATOR  LEMAN  asked  for  a  motion  to  adopt  a proposed                 
  committee substitute.                                                        
  SENATOR  MILLER  moved that  SCS  CSHB 235(STA)  be adopted.                 
  Hearing  no  objection,  the  Chair  stated the  motion  had                 
  SENATOR LEMAN stated  HB 235 would be  set aside momentarily                 
  so that the committee could take  action on another piece of                 
  Number 330                                                                   
  SENATOR  LEMAN brought  SB  186 (STATE  AGENCY PUBLICATIONS)                 
  before the committee.                                                        
  BRIAN DAVIS,  staff to  Senator Steve  Frank, explained  the                 
  legislation repeals a statute that was  put in place in 1990                 
  that provided that  publications of state agencies  shall be                 
  produced at a state operated facility.  SB 186 replaces that                 
  statute with language  that provides that publications  of a                 
  state agency shall be produced  according to standards which                 
  promote  the   maximum  use   of  private  sector   printing                 
  facilities.   The  intent is  to  shift business  from state                 
  operated facilities to private sector printers.                              
  SENATOR LEMAN asked for the pleasure of the committee.                       
  SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 186  be passed out of committee                 
  with individual recommendations.   Hearing no objection,  it                 
  was so ordered.                                                              
  Number 350                                                                   
  SENATOR LEMAN brought HB 235 back  before the committee.  He                 
  then asked Rhonda  Weiss, an  attorney in Washington,  D.C.,                 
  what the minimum  is that the State  of Alaska has to  do to                 
  meet the deadline to  come into compliance with federal  law                 
  and not lose funding.                                                        
  RHONDA  WEISS  of  the  U.S.   Department  of  Education  in                 
  Washington, D.C.,  responded that  in order  to receive  the                 
  Part B grant award for this  fiscal year, Alaska is required                 
  to submit a Part B state plan that meets the requirements of                 
  the  individuals  with  Disabilities Education  Act  (IDEA),                 
  Sections  612  &  613   and  the  department's  implementing                 
  regulations in 34 C.F.R., Part 300.                                          
  Ms.  Weiss  said for  two prior  years, Alaska  has provided                 
  assurances  to  U.S.  DOE  that   certain  statutory  and/or                 
  regulatory changes would  be made to satisfy  all applicable                 
  federal requirements. The purpose of the current legislative                 
  action  is  to  ensure  that these  assurances  are  met  in                 
  connection  with the  department's  conditional approval  of                 
  Alaska's Part B grant.                                                       
  Number 423                                                                   
  MS JENZANO, U.S. DOE  state contact person for the  State of                 
  Alaska,  testifying  from   Washington,  D.C.,  referred  to                 
  subsection  (e) on page 3, lines  16 and 17 of CSHB 235(FIN)                 
  and  said  it was  their  understanding  that there  was  an                 
  amendment to have that section deleted and  having three new                 
  subsections inserted. She  stated they would have  a problem                 
  with that being  deleted from  the statute because  it is  a                 
  federal regulatory requirement, as well  as having a problem                 
  with the proposed new subsections.   The department also has                 
  concern with subsection (b) on page  4, line 2, and suggests                 
  that "federal" be incorporated into that sentence.                           
  Number 470                                                                   
  SENATOR LEMAN referred to subsection (e) on page 3, lines 16                 
  and 17,  relating to the hearing officer's decision, and the                 
  new  subsections  (f),  (g)  and  (h)  and said  it  is  his                 
  understanding that those  terms came  from Oregon  statutes.                 
  He asked if Oregon  was out of compliance because  they have                 
  those provisions in  their law.  RHONDA WEISS  answered that                 
  they  couldn't  comment  on  it  until  they  have  reviewed                 
  Oregon's  law,  but   that  in  a  direct   review  of  this                 
  information, it does  not meet the regulatory  and statutory                 
  Ms. Weiss  also added that  their concern with  the proposed                 
  statutory language is that it combines the consent provision                 
  with  the  hearing  officer's   decision  and  confuses  the                 
  subjective  consent provision,  in  essence, for  a  party's                 
  right  to  appeal  a  hearing  officer's  decision  if  they                 
  disagree with that decision.                                                 
  Number 515                                                                   
  WILLIE  ANDERSON,  representing  NEA-Alaska, stated  he  was                 
  testifying in support of the earlier  version of HB 235 that                 
  dealt with the funding for special education.                                
  Mr. Anderson stated  NEA-Alaska does not have  problems with                 
  the "gifted" language,  because it is their  opinion that it                 
  meets the need to have gifted education funded by the state.                 
  However, they want to make sure  that the state doesn't lose                 
  $8 million in terms of federal funding for the schools.                      
  Mr.   Anderson  urged   that  the  committee   make  minimum                 
  amendments to  the legislation and/or  go back to  the House                 
  version of the bill.                                                         
  Number 535                                                                   
  JANICE LEVY, representing  the Department  of Law, said  the                 
  crux of the  problem and the  difficulty for Alaska is  that                 
  the federal regulations and the federal code do require that                 
  there  be  a  vehicle for  overriding  parental  consent and                 
  that's the difficult issue.  She said the procedure that was                 
  suggested in HB 235 that she reviewed  a couple of weeks ago                 
  would  have met that requirement.   She noted that procedure                 
  does  allow for  eventually appealing  to the  level of  the                 
  Superior Court.                                                              
  TAPE 93-27, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
  JACK  PHELPS,  President  of  the  Alaska Private  and  Home                 
  Educators Association, said their concern is two-fold.  They                 
  believe it's important for the  state to protect its federal                 
  dollars, but  at the  same time,  they want  to ensure  that                 
  parents are not  put at  a disadvantage in  terms of  making                 
  decisions that will affect the lives of their own children.                  
  Mr. Phelps said he  does not think that  changing subsection                 
  (g)  on  page   3  to  make the  hearing  officer's decision                 
  binding necessitates the removal of subsections (e) and (f).                 
  Mr. Phelps suggested that perhaps a mediatory procedure that                 
  would happen before  it went to  a hearing officer could  be                 
  written into the bill, and he said that may be able to solve                 
  some of these conflicts between  districts and parents at an                 
  earlier stage and in a less confrontational manner.                          
  Number 048                                                                   
  SENATOR LEMAN said HB  235 would be held over  for the April                 
  19 meeting.  He then adjourned the meeting at 10:00 a.m.                     

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