Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/18/2015 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:04:47 AM Start
08:06:51 AM Confirmation Hearing(s): || Board of Education and Early Development
08:46:26 AM Professional Teaching Practices Commission
08:58:16 AM HB107
09:39:31 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmation Hearings: TELECONFERENCED
- Board of Education & Early Development
- Professional Teaching Practices Commission
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
       HB 107 - BD OF REGENTS REGIONAL RESIDENCY QUALIF.                                                                    
8:58:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 107, "An Act  relating to the composition  of the                                                               
Board of Regents of the University of Alaska."                                                                                  
8:59:17 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDREW  FORD, Staff,  Representative  Lynn  Gattis, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf  of the sponsor of  HB 107, Representative                                                               
Gattis,  paraphrased  from  the  sponsor  statement  included  in                                                               
members' packets, and explained that  HB 107 is proposing changes                                                               
to [the  statute pertaining to]  the makeup of the  University of                                                               
Alaska  Board  of  Regents.    The  Board  of  Regents  currently                                                               
consists of  eleven members, one of  whom must be a  student, and                                                               
under the changes  proposed by Section 1 of the  bill - repealing                                                               
and  reenacting AS  14.40.130(a) -  only  four of  the other  ten                                                               
regents may  serve at large,  and there  must be one  regent each                                                               
from  the  Fairbanks  North Star  Borough,  the  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage,  the Matanuska-Susitna  Borough,  the Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
Borough, the City and Borough of  Juneau, and a community that is                                                               
not  connected by  either road  or  rail to  either Anchorage  or                                                               
Fairbanks.     He  offered  his   understanding  that   both  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su)  valley and  the Kenai  peninsula, for                                                               
example,  have experienced  considerable  population growth  over                                                               
the last 40  years, but only two regents have  ever been from the                                                               
Kenai peninsula and none have ever been from the Mat-Su valley.                                                                 
MR. FORD  offered his  understanding that Section  2 of  the bill                                                               
merely  provides  conforming  language  and  doesn't  change  the                                                               
intent of AS  14.40.130.  Section 3  provides transition language                                                               
pertaining   to   proposed   AS  14.40.130(a)'s   new   residency                                                               
requirements;  under Section  3,  current regents  may serve  out                                                               
their term.   In response to  a question regarding Section  2, he                                                               
indicated  that  under it,  board  membership  terminates when  a                                                               
person appointed  under Section 1's proposed  AS 14.40.130(a)(1)-                                                               
(6) moves.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR KELLER questioned  whether the number of  regents should be                                                               
9:06:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN GATTIS, Alaska  State Legislature, sponsor of                                                               
HB 107,  indicated that she would  be amenable to such  a change.                                                               
In  response to  comments  and questions  regarding a  memorandum                                                               
from Legislative Legal and Research  Services dated September 10,                                                               
2014, in  members' packets, she  acknowledged that it is  not yet                                                               
known whether the changes proposed by  the bill would be found by                                                               
the court to be unconstitutional,  and shared her belief that all                                                               
areas of the state should be  represented on the Board of Regents                                                               
but that thus far the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has not been.                                                                   
9:10:26 AM                                                                                                                    
KIM  FORD,   mentioning  that  she  once   chaired  an  "economic                                                               
development  advisory council,"  indicated  that  she shared  the                                                               
sponsor's belief that the Matanuska-Susitna  Borough has not been                                                               
represented  on  the  University  of  Alaska  Board  of  Regents.                                                               
Ms. Ford  opined that  such representation  is important  for the                                                               
economic  development of  the  Matanuska-Susitna Borough  because                                                               
back   in  2009,   people  hired   to  research   certain  issues                                                               
recommended that  a "university  medical district"  be developed,                                                               
but a workgroup further researching  that issue claimed that such                                                               
could  never  happen  until someone  from  the  Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
Borough was  appointed to  serve on  the Board  of Regents.   She                                                               
proffered  that the  first step,  therefore, would  be to  ensure                                                               
that the  Matanuska-Susitna Borough  is represented on  the Board                                                               
of Regents, and  opined that it should be, because  of the area's                                                               
[population] growth.  She also offered  her belief that a lack of                                                               
such representation  on the  Board of  Regents is  preventing the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna  College  from  offering any  four-year  degree                                                               
programs.   In  response to  a question,  she indicated  that she                                                               
supports HB 107.                                                                                                                
9:15:33 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  DAVIES,  Regent, University  of  Alaska  Board of  Regents,                                                               
University of Alaska  - noting that he was  recently appointed to                                                               
the Board of Regents in  February, and acknowledging the interest                                                               
being   expressed  in   having   certain  areas   of  the   state                                                               
specifically represented on  the Board of Regents  - relayed that                                                               
he  nonetheless  has  concerns  with HB  107,  concerns  that  he                                                               
believes the entire Board of  Regents shares, as evidenced by the                                                               
letter  in  members' packets  from  the  chair  of the  Board  of                                                               
Regents  [dated  February  24,  2015].   One  of  the  things  to                                                               
consider is  that appointments  to the Board  of Regents  are for                                                               
eight  years  with  the  expectation   that  since  students  are                                                               
generally entering four-, five-,  and six-year programs, that the                                                               
policies that get developed will  be long-term, will be developed                                                               
in a  thoughtful way, will be  implemented over a long  period of                                                               
time,  and  any  changes  to  them  will  occur  in  a  slow  and                                                               
deliberative  manner.   That's not  to say  the Board  of Regents                                                               
shouldn't  be responsive  to new  programs, but  regents must  be                                                               
careful to  consider possible changes  from a  complete statewide                                                               
perspective, particularly given current budget shortfalls.                                                                      
MR. DAVIS said  that over the past  15 years or so,  the Board of                                                               
Regents has worked  very hard to reduce the  focus on regionalism                                                               
and to  work much more  strongly as  a board that  represents the                                                               
entire state.  This is why  there are concerns with any bill that                                                               
would   explicitly    regionalize   the    appointment   process.                                                               
Furthermore, the  administration at the university  has developed                                                               
mechanisms  in order  to function  much more  as a  single system                                                               
rather  than as  several different  systems.   Passage of  HB 107                                                               
could  have  the unintended  consequence  of  moving backward  in                                                               
terms  of  ensuring that  the  Board  of Regents  represents  the                                                               
entire state.   He  then referred  to the  language in  Section 2                                                               
that says board membership terminates  if a regent ceases to meet                                                               
the residency  requirements, and opined that  that language flies                                                               
in  the face  of the  intent of  having eight-year  appointments,                                                               
because  there  could be  much  more  turnover  on the  Board  of                                                               
Regents -  something he  said he  doesn't think  would be  a good                                                               
thing in terms  of ensuring the board's ability  to develop long-                                                               
term, consistent policy.                                                                                                        
9:19:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE POWERS,  Regent and Vice  Chair, University of  Alaska Board                                                               
of Regents,  University of Alaska  - mentioning that he  has thus                                                               
far served four years of his  eight-year term - relayed that upon                                                               
joining  the Board  of Regents,  he  was struck  by the  regents'                                                               
collegiality  and  their  statewide perspective  -  not  regional                                                               
perspective.  He, too, acknowledged  the interest being expressed                                                               
in having certain areas of  the state specifically represented on                                                               
the  Board of  Regents, but  surmised that  everyone also  has an                                                               
interest in  ensuring that  the Board of  Regents makes  the best                                                               
use   of  precious   resources   operating   the  state's   three                                                               
separately-accredited   universities  and   associated  community                                                               
campuses.   The current  fiscal situation  is requiring  that the                                                               
Board  of  Regents  therefore prioritize  the  academic  programs                                                               
being offered  at the state's various  universities/campuses, and                                                               
discontinue  certain programs,  and  this in  turn requires  that                                                               
regents  maintain  a  statewide   perspective,  rather  than  the                                                               
regional  perspective  that  would  result from  the  passage  of                                                               
HB 107.                                                                                                                         
9:23:43 AM                                                                                                                    
JYOTSNA  "JO" HECKMAN,  Regent and  Chair,  University of  Alaska                                                               
Board of  Regents, University  of Alaska  - mentioning  that she,                                                               
too, has  thus far  served four  years of  her eight-year  term -                                                               
referred  to  the aforementioned  letter  she'd  provided to  the                                                               
committee,  and to  a letter  provided by  regent Mary  K. Hughes                                                               
[dated March  14, 2015,]  also expressing  concerns with  HB 107.                                                               
Ms. Heckman  said that  although the  regents can  understand and                                                               
appreciate  the reasoning  behind HB  107  - that  of having  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna Borough  specifically represented on  the Board                                                               
of Regents  - creating geographical constituencies  and promoting                                                               
an atmosphere  of regionalism  by instituting  regional residency                                                               
requirements,  as would  occur  under the  bill,  is of  concern,                                                               
particularly   given    the   university's    current   budgetary                                                               
constraints,  because  it  would  impede the  Board  of  Regents'                                                               
ability  to  make difficult  decisions  and  take prompt  action.                                                               
Under the  bill, any time  a regent moves, actions  and decisions                                                               
by the  Board of  Regents would  have to be  delayed until  a new                                                               
regent is appointed, confirmed, and  brought up to speed, and all                                                               
regents must be  able to make decisions involving  the welfare of                                                               
the university  as a  whole and  all of  its students  across the                                                               
state, but  the bill  could result in  the formation  of regional                                                               
factions within  the Board of  Regents, thereby  further delaying                                                               
decisions and  actions.  Furthermore,  passage of the  bill could                                                               
result in  constitutional issues arising, issues  that would have                                                               
to be  dealt with by  the court, and  this, too, could  result in                                                               
delays on the part of the Board of Regents.                                                                                     
9:29:46 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  HELLER, MatSu  Business  Alliance,  Inc., provided  some                                                               
information about  himself, the  campus at  the Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
College,   and  the   Matanuska-Susitna   Borough;  offered   his                                                               
understanding  that  only  one  regent has  ever  been  from  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna  Borough; and  indicated that  his organization                                                               
is  in complete  support of  HB 107,  believing that  its passage                                                               
will  address certain  issues at  the  campus and  will help  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna Borough continue to grow.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to  the term "residency"  as used                                                               
in the bill, and asked to be provided with a definition.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GATTIS, in response  to a question, indicated that                                                               
some believe the area's population  growth warrants requiring the                                                               
Board  of Regents  to have  a regent  from the  Matanuska-Susitna                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ  read items from a  table entitled, "Break                                                               
Down of the University's Board  of Regents 1917-2015" produced by                                                               
Representative Gattis's Office and  provided in members' packets,                                                               
and said  it appears that there  is a wide, dramatic  inequity in                                                               
terms of  regional representation on  the Board of Regents.   She                                                               
suggested that the committee conduct more research on the issue.                                                                
CHAIR  KELLER referred  to some  of the  other items  in members'                                                               
packets, and  reminded members that  the committee would  soon be                                                               
considering the governor's recent  appointments to the University                                                               
Of Alaska Board Of Regents.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND asked whether  a resolution has ever been                                                               
passed  recommending   that  the  governor   consider  geographic                                                               
[representation],  and, if  not, why  that approach  wasn't taken                                                               
this time,  particularly in light  of the potential for  the bill                                                               
to be subject to a legal challenge.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTIS  indicated  that   the  thought  was  that                                                               
addressing the  issue [of geographic representation  on the Board                                                               
of Regents] via a resolution would not accomplish the goal.                                                                     
CHAIR KELLER  closed public  testimony on  HB 107,  and indicated                                                               
that HB 107 would be held over.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB107.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/27/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Sponsor Statement.PDF HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Press and Public Input.PDF HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Fiscal Note UA-SYSBRA-3-12-15.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Fiscal Note UA-SYSBRA 3-12-15.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Supporting Documents.PDF HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Support MSB Resolution in Support.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Support Greater Palmer Chamber of Commerce.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107
HB107 Opposing Hughes.pdf HEDC 3/18/2015 8:00:00 AM
HB 107