Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/23/1999 04:04 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
HJR 6 - CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1111                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House                                                                 
Joint Resolution No. 6, Proposing amendments to the Constitution of                                                             
the State of Alaska relating to state aid for education.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1235                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING, sponsor, testified briefly before                                                                   
returning to a Finance Committee meeting.  He said since HB 5 was                                                               
thought to be unconstitutional, he is presenting an alternative                                                                 
plan, HJR 6, that would change the constitution to allow for direct                                                             
funding for private education.  His aide, Randy Lorenz, has done                                                                
extensive research on this issue, and he asked him to present the                                                               
information focusing primarily on the issue of direct funding.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
RANDY LORENZ, Researcher for Representative Vic Kohring, Alaska                                                                 
State Legislature, said that at a previous hearing on the school                                                                
voucher bill, he heard that the Alaska State Constitution was                                                                   
unique to Alaska.  In his research of the original Alaska                                                                       
Constitutional Convention, it shows there was nothing more than the                                                             
Blaine amendment or the Enabling Act, which is the same as in over                                                              
39 other state constitutions.  He gave some history to understand                                                               
the Blaine amendment and referred to the 1530s during the                                                                       
Reformation of the Church when the individual denominations were                                                                
developed.  They did that as a result of the Church of England also                                                             
being the government.  In the 1600s many of these people came to                                                                
the United States and established separate churches.  In the 1800s                                                              
these denominations had multiple schools and they wanted to form                                                                
them under the "common school movement" which is now known as the                                                               
public school system.  In 1875, U.S. Representative Blaine                                                                      
introduced the Blaine amendment which sought to prohibit the                                                                    
Catholic Church from receiving any funds because they saw the                                                                   
Catholic Church as being a menace to what they believed.  That                                                                  
initiative failed because it was unconstitutional.  In 1888 he                                                                  
changed it to the Enabling Act which allowed four states to enter                                                               
the United States as part of the union.  Since that time 36 other                                                               
states also adopted the same wording as the Enabling Act.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ referred the members to Item 2, History of Article VII,                                                              
Constitutional Convention, Education Section Minutes, pages 1508 to                                                             
1535, December 1955 to 1956, which is in their packet.  He pointed                                                              
out many references in those minutes on various pages where it does                                                             
refer to the Enabling Act.  In effect, what they have is nothing                                                                
more than what other states have done, and this wording has been                                                                
ruled in over 20 court cases as being unconstitutional.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked what did the Blaine amendment say.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said the Blaine amendment prohibited any [sectarian]                                                                 
control of public schools.  It has been construed to mean that they                                                             
cannot provide direct public support to any private or [sectarian]                                                              
schools.  He is trying to draw that inference out.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON reviewed that Mr. Lorenz is trying to show them                                                               
that there was a direct connection between the Blaine amendment,                                                                
the Enabling Act and the language that went into Alaska's                                                                       
constitution.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ referred to Item 5, Michigan's Constitution, Article                                                                 
VIII, Section 2 in their packets, on page 50, Nonpublic schools,                                                                
prohibited aid which reads:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     No public monies or property shall be appropriated or                                                                      
     paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or                                                                  
     any other political subdivision or agency of the state                                                                     
     directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private,                                                                     
     denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary,                                                                         
     elementary, or secondary school.  No payment, credit, tax                                                                  
     benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher,                                                                         
     subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall                                                                  
     be provided, directly or indirectly...                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said it is a lot tighter than Alaska's constitution.  On                                                             
page 14, item B, it has the reference that the U.S. Supreme Court                                                               
made in regards to this particular issue and the interpretation.                                                                
It talks about the common understanding, and the words in there                                                                 
should not have any unique meaning; what they stand for is what                                                                 
they mean.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ referred to page 16, item C of the same document, which                                                              
talks about the use of public funds and support.  Under that it                                                                 
says:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Under the amendment, public funds could not be used to                                                                     
     support the attendance of nonpublic school students at                                                                     
     any location or institution where instruction is offered                                                                   
     in whole or in part to nonpublic school students.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ went on to read what the U.S. Supreme Court stated:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     This is a shocking result.  It violates both the free                                                                      
     exercise of religion and the equal protection provisions                                                                   
     of the United State Constitution.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ referred to page 30, item G, which refers to the                                                                     
language in that particular area.  It states:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The language "or at any location or institution where                                                                      
     instruction is offered in whole or in part to such                                                                         
     nonpublic school students ...Proposal C is                                                                                 
     unconstitutional, void and unenforceable and is severable                                                                  
     and capable of being removed from Article 8 Sec. 2                                                                         
     without altering the purpose and effect of the balance of                                                                  
     the sentence and section.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ summed up that basically what they are saying is the                                                                 
prohibiting of using monies to support individual children is a                                                                 
violation of the U.S. Constitution.  Alaska has the same reading in                                                             
its constitution and should be able to draw the same conclusion.                                                                
He feels it gives them a basis to start considering that and move                                                               
this bill to the Judiciary Committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said the second issue is the words "direct" versus                                                                   
"indirect," and he referred to Item 2, the minutes of the                                                                       
constitutional convention.  On pages 1513 through 1533 the members                                                              
of the constitutional convention had a very in-depth discussion                                                                 
about putting in the word "indirect," and on page 1513 an amendment                                                             
was proposed to have the word "indirect" put in.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked Mr. Lorenz if he is about to show them that                                                             
the word "indirect" was inserted deliberately.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said they put forth an amendment to insert it into the                                                               
constitution during the constitutional convention.  As a result of                                                              
this ongoing text, they said they did not want the word "indirect"                                                              
in there because they did not want to prohibit the ability to use                                                               
funds to support individual children.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if it was because they considered putting                                                               
the word "indirect" in and did not, that there was a logical and                                                                
direct inference that they intended that "indirect" public support                                                              
could happen.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said yes.  He referred again to Item 2, constitutional                                                               
convention minutes, page 1514, which states:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     In this third sentence we have used the word "direct".                                                                     
     It was spelled out that the maintenance and operation or                                                                   
     other features of direct help would be prohibited.  This                                                                   
     was not intended and does not prohibit the contracting or                                                                  
     giving of services to the individual child, for that                                                                       
     child benefits as his part of society.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said he thinks the bottom line is they planned to have                                                               
the ability to be able to use funds for individual children, and                                                                
that it is also public purpose in order to be able to do this.  He                                                              
feels the intent of the Alaska State Constitution has been                                                                      
misunderstood and has been perverted so they are not able to do                                                                 
this now.  To bring this in alignment with both the U.S.                                                                        
Constitution as well as what the forefathers wanted or envisioned                                                               
at this time, the only way to do this now is to remove the third                                                                
sentence from the constitution.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2032                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked if Mr. Lorenz was saying that the                                                                  
Alaska State Constitution is unconstitutional according to the                                                                  
federal constitution, and it has been since it was enacted.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2047                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ replied that when Alaska's constitution was written,                                                                 
what people were thinking at that time was different than what it                                                               
is today.  It has been viewed that to prohibit money to support                                                                 
children in nonpublic school settings is now a direct violation of                                                              
both the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  He contends that the way                                                             
Alaska's constitution was framed, it does allow the ability, by the                                                             
framers' own words, "to be able to use public money to support a                                                                
nonpublic school child's education."  It is in here that it does                                                                
allow this.  He continued saying that it is a result of the 1979                                                                
Alaska Supreme Court decision on Sheldon Jackson that took the word                                                             
"students" to mean they were nothing more than conduits for direct                                                              
benefits.  If they look back to what the U.S. Supreme Court looks                                                               
at as the way of common understanding of the word "direct," it was                                                              
a misinterpretation; they went outside the scope of what that word                                                              
means.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2094                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked Mr. Lorenz if he was saying that the                                                               
Alaska State Supreme Court misinterpreted the word "direct."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2102                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ answered that he does not know what was on their mind at                                                             
the time so he won't make any inferences in that direction at all.                                                              
He referred them to copies of the Sheldon Jackson case and their                                                                
basic comment was that these college students were nothing more                                                                 
than a conduit for direct funds.  According to what he has read                                                                 
from other court cases, that would not be "direct;" it would be                                                                 
"indirect".  According to the minutes of the constitutional                                                                     
convention, they did not prohibit the direct benefit to a child                                                                 
even if it did indirectly support a parochial or private school.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ again referred them to page 1515, to Ralph Rivers'                                                                   
comments which stated:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The word 'direct' is that standard treatment of that                                                                       
     subject.  Now when you get into the wording "or                                                                            
     indirect", then you are getting into an argument as to                                                                     
     whether you can even contract with a private institution                                                                   
     for the rendering of certain public services because they                                                                  
     might say they might make a profit.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ referred to Mr. Rivers statement that continued on page                                                              
1516 which stated:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     ... you talk about prohibiting the disbursement of money                                                                   
     for an indirect benefit to a parochial or private                                                                          
     institution.  You are reaching clear out to ad infinitum                                                                   
     in the realms of logic and association.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said basically they did not want to go that route.  They                                                             
did not want to do "indirect" because it talks about the                                                                        
far-reaching implications that they couldn't even begin to imagine                                                              
at that time; but they wanted the ability to use public funds for                                                               
the public purpose of supporting children, even if it meant an                                                                  
indirect benefit to a private institution.  They looked at that and                                                             
said no, that was fine.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2196                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN said it seems the argument is that they                                                                  
realized that they needed to have some flexibility because of the                                                               
wide variety of opportunities that could exist for helping children                                                             
with public monies.  As a result, they didn't want to put in that                                                               
language of "indirect," but they did want to clarify and make a                                                                 
distinction between "indirect" support and "direct" support.  He                                                                
doesn't see where the conversation at the constitutional convention                                                             
shows that they are supportive of direct support for religious                                                                  
institutions or religious schools.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. LORENZ said what they wanted to prohibit was a direct benefit                                                               
to a private institution, like maintenance and operations and                                                                   
features of direct help.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON said since they will not finish this today, he                                                                
opened public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-23, SIDE B                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2321                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN STITHAM, Vice Chair, State Board of Education, testified via                                                              
teleconference from Fairbanks.  She said the members should have a                                                              
copy of the State Board of Education's position statement on                                                                    
vouchers.  She thinks what they would like to emphasize, as they                                                                
consider HJR 6, is the issue of accountability for public money in                                                              
terms of public schools.  They have initiated the partnership with                                                              
the legislature, the Department of Education (DOE), the                                                                         
commissioner of DOE and the State Board of Education in a real                                                                  
effort in terms of quality schools.  The exit tests, teacher                                                                    
standards in the licensure process and school accountability are                                                                
going to improve what is essentially a very good school system in                                                               
this state.  All of that seems like an appropriate level of                                                                     
accountability for parents, for children and for the state in terms                                                             
of the use of state money.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. STITHAM voiced another concern  that under current situations,                                                              
private schools in this state have no accountability whatsoever.                                                                
They are not even required to hire licensed teachers, their                                                                     
students are not required to take examinations and so it seems                                                                  
counterproductive in terms of their continuing efforts to try to                                                                
make sure that every Alaskan student has the best possible                                                                      
education that they can provide in terms of contributions to the                                                                
future of Alaska and each of them individually.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2260                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LINDA ANDERSON testified from the Mat-Su LIO via teleconference.                                                                
She is a nurse, a parent and a 26-year resident of Alaska who home                                                              
schooled her children.  She expressed her strong support of HJR 6.                                                              
The U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld this under the freedom of                                                             
religion and equal protection under the law.  The U.S. Supreme                                                                  
Court ruled over Michigan's constitution as deliberate                                                                          
discrimination to prevent payment of public funds for direct                                                                    
educational benefit of all students.  She sees the clear logic that                                                             
the U.S. Constitution as written by the forefathers supports the                                                                
intent of HJR 6, and the Alaska State Constitution should be                                                                    
amended to support equal protection and equal rights of all                                                                     
students.  The GI Bill and the Alaska State Student Loan Program                                                                
are both constitutional.  They need HJR 6 to enable all students                                                                
access to equal education.  It is the parental responsibility and                                                               
accountability to know what school and what services are best for                                                               
their children.  It is the parents' responsibility, not the                                                                     
state's.  She said people who choose nonpublic schools are being                                                                
heavily burdened by paying for their child's needs and still being                                                              
forced against their will to double pay for other people's                                                                      
children.  She urged the committee to please pass HJR 6 and help                                                                
enable the families; it is constitutional, it is fair and it is                                                                 
legal.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2188                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
STANLEY TUCKER testified from the Mat-Su LIO via teleconference.                                                                
He spoke in support of HJR 6; he believes it will allow parents a                                                               
greater choice for their children's education.  Now many children                                                               
are discriminated against if they do not attend public school since                                                             
they do not receive the benefits that public school children do                                                                 
from the state coffers.  This will be fair since parents who do not                                                             
use public schools are assessed property taxes to support public                                                                
schools.  He has read that competition to public schools in other                                                               
states has also benefitted public schools.  It is probably because                                                              
public schools become more accountable to the public.  He agreed                                                                
that accountability is a problem, but when parents have a choice to                                                             
do what is best for the children, they will.  If public school is                                                               
the best place; that is where they will put the child, but if it is                                                             
not the best place; then they would have the opportunity to put                                                                 
their child in a place they feel is better.  He feels that this                                                                 
proposed constitutional change would be fair to all Alaskans and                                                                
beneficial to Alaskan children.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2129                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ROY BURKHART testified from the Mat-Su LIO via teleconference.  He                                                              
had two children that went through the public school system in                                                                  
Anchorage and has no complaints with the system.  Both his children                                                             
were valedictorians of their high schools, but unfortunately some                                                               
of the children who graduated with them never learned to read                                                                   
through the system.  He knew of a mother who went to the school                                                                 
board, the principal, the teachers and got no help.  If she could                                                               
have found some help in a private school, he wouldn't have seen                                                                 
anything wrong with that.  The state should have helped her.  He                                                                
thinks competition will improve the public education system.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUNE BURKHART testified from Mat-Su via teleconference.  She agreed                                                             
with the testimonies of Linda Anderson, Stanley Tucker and Roy                                                                  
Burkhart.  She did have a concern about a situation in Mat-Su which                                                             
would be helped if this amendment goes through.  A child diagnosed                                                              
with dyslexia was referred to the district's correspondence program                                                             
which means the parents will have to home school him.  The parents                                                              
are distraught; they are not educated to do anything for this child                                                             
short of hiring a private tutor.  These kinds of things have got to                                                             
stop.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SANDY PEVAN testified from the Mat-Su LIO via teleconference.  She                                                              
spoke against HJR 6.  She does not believe that public education                                                                
funds should be sent out to private or religious schools; they                                                                  
belong to the public.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1979                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN CYR, President, National Education Association (NEA) Alaska                                                                
came forward to testify.  He said the members have NEA Alaska's                                                                 
position statement.  He said the issue which is really important is                                                             
whether this is good educational policy; not whether it is                                                                      
constitutional.  He suggested looking at some other areas where                                                                 
vouchers have been into place.  He referred to an article of a                                                                  
study done by Martin Carnoy, a professor of education and economics                                                             
at Stanford, not connected with the NEA.  Chile tried a voucher                                                                 
system back in the 1980s.  Chile had one of the best educational                                                                
systems in South America until Pinochet came into power, and they                                                               
decentralized and went to vouchers.  He read one statement from                                                                 
this article:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The lessons for us here in the United States are obvious,                                                                  
     but they are not the ones that privatization advocates                                                                     
     want known.  Voucher plans increase inequality without                                                                     
     making schools better.  Even more significantly,                                                                           
     privatization reduces the public effort to improve                                                                         
     schooling since it relies on the free market to increase                                                                   
     achievement.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. CYR said that is the antithesis of what needs to be done in                                                                 
Alaska.  It sets up bad public policy.  He referred to an article                                                               
that ran in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about the voucher system                                                             
in Texas.  When vouchers were instituted in Texas, the contribution                                                             
to public education went down.  Public money goes to areas that                                                                 
some believe it shouldn't go.  He reported that Milwaukee spent $25                                                             
million; took that money from the public schools and gave it to                                                                 
children in private schools, with no significant improvement in                                                                 
either reading or math scores.  What actually happened was taxes                                                                
went up to pay for children in private schools.  In fact, those                                                                 
children who were in private schools already got the money; it                                                                  
didn't go for children who left public school.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1850                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CYR continued that the same thing happened in Cleveland, but                                                                
the only difference was people used vouchers for their children's                                                               
taxi fare back and forth to school.  He wasn't suggesting that it                                                               
isn't appropriate for children to take taxis to school, he doesn't                                                              
think this state can afford it.  Approximately 15,000 children are                                                              
in private, religious or home schools in this state.  If the base                                                               
allocation is a little over $4,000, that is $60 million that a                                                                  
voucher scheme would cost before one child leaves public school.                                                                
He reiterated that it is not only bad public policy, it is insane                                                               
economically at this point in time.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1800                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PHILIP REEVES, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section,                                                              
Civil Division (Juneau), Department of Law. came forward to                                                                     
testify.  He pointed out that the attorney general's office did                                                                 
provide an opinion regarding HB 5, and SSHB 5 in particular, and                                                                
that opinion focused upon Article VII, Section 1 and the Supreme                                                                
Court's decision in Sheldon Jackson interpreting that.  They didn't                                                             
go beyond that constitutional provision because that seemed to be                                                               
a showstopper.  Essentially the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that                                                             
they cannot expend public funds for private educational costs in                                                                
this state.  Now they are looking at the next step since the                                                                    
sponsor is seeking to change the constitution, and the attorney                                                                 
general's office feels it is important to give the committee some                                                               
information about some other constitutional and statutory issues                                                                
that would impact the ability to set up a statutory program for                                                                 
private school vouchers.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1750                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES said it is true that the repeal of Article VII, Section                                                              
1 would remove the most direct legal impediment to tuition                                                                      
vouchers, but it would certainly not clear the field.  Both the                                                                 
Alaska and United States constitutions' establishment clause has                                                                
placed significant restrictions on the expenditure of public funds                                                              
for tuition for religious schools.  The U.S. Supreme Court has not                                                              
ruled that vouchers for general religious education programs are                                                                
constitutional under the federal establishment clause.  The                                                                     
Wisconsin Supreme Court did hold that under the Wisconsin and                                                                   
federal constitutions, the Wisconsin voucher program was                                                                        
constitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari and                                                                
basically has not rendered any opinion on such a wide-ranging                                                                   
voucher program.  Finally, the Wisconsin voucher program had a                                                                  
significant requirement that was not included in the proposed SSHB                                                              
5, which was an opt-out provision which essentially would require                                                               
a participating private school in Wisconsin to provide a                                                                        
nonreligious curriculum to any tuition student who requested it                                                                 
within the religious school.  That obviously is a point of major                                                                
impact to the consideration of where the state would want to go in                                                              
developing a program.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1694                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES referred specifically to the establishment clause.  They                                                             
can look at both the U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the                                                                 
federal constitution and then the Alaska Supreme Court decisions.                                                               
The U.S. Supreme Court has broadened the limitations under the                                                                  
federal establishment clause as recently as two years ago.  Up                                                                  
until 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court had essentially ruled that                                                                   
public funds could not be expended for any educational program                                                                  
within a private school.  In 1997, they overruled their earlier                                                                 
decision.  In the case, a particular remedial public education                                                                  
program, presented and taught by public education teachers, was                                                                 
allowed within a Catholic school.  That is as far as the U.S.                                                                   
Supreme Court has gone.  Obviously, the Wisconsin voucher program                                                               
and the proposal of HB 5 are much broader type programs.                                                                        
Essentially, the entire educational program of religious schools,                                                               
which includes religious instruction classes meant to inculcate                                                                 
religious values throughout the subject matter, would be funded.                                                                
It is the opinion of the attorney general's office that it is                                                                   
unlikely that the U.S. Supreme Court would make a jump of that                                                                  
magnitude from the current position, which recently allowed a                                                                   
single public class taught by public school teachers to be taught                                                               
within a private school setting.  Typically the U.S. Supreme Court                                                              
acts in more of an incremental fashion, and the attorney general's                                                              
office submits that would be a substantial leap.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1602                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES said when public funds are expended in private schools,                                                              
there is a question as to whether those are totally private schools                                                             
any more.  A number of federal programs which have strong strings                                                               
attached to the expenditure of funding require an array of                                                                      
accommodations and regulatory structure for the educational                                                                     
institution that receives those funds.  It may be that the                                                                      
restrictions on discrimination are much greater so that                                                                         
discrimination in enrollment on a religious basis may not be                                                                    
allowed.  There is a very detailed regulatory regime requiring                                                                  
accommodations, and there certainly can be no discriminatory                                                                    
enrollment practices for students who have either mental or                                                                     
physical impairments that require significant accommodations.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES said he is not here to tell them today that by providing                                                             
public funding to those schools, all of those regulations will                                                                  
apply, but he thinks it is important for the legislature to realize                                                             
that once steps are taken in that direction, those are legitimate                                                               
legal questions that will have to be considered.  He is certain                                                                 
that the private school administrations will be very concerned                                                                  
about those types of legal issues.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1510                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked if there were changes to state statutes to                                                              
accommodate the kinds of concerns he raised, would that alleviate                                                               
some of the concerns.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES said if he was referring to his comments regarding                                                                   
statutory requirements on discrimination in enrollment or                                                                       
accommodations, certainly state statutory programs could be                                                                     
adjusted to reflect the wish of the legislature, particularly in                                                                
the area of special needs students.  Most of those requirements are                                                             
under the federal law.  They are also under state law because the                                                               
federal program is set up to make the Department of Education the                                                               
responsible entity in ensuring that those are included in public                                                                
education programs.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked for Mr. Reeves' comments on the line of                                                                 
argument on the constitutional convention debate on "direct" and                                                                
"indirect".                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1422                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. REEVES said it is not his place to second guess a decision of                                                               
the Alaska Supreme Court.  The Alaska Supreme Court directly                                                                    
considered the term "direct" at length in the Sheldon Jackson case.                                                             
and cited the constitutional minutes, which he has reviewed.  It                                                                
was their determination that "indirect" was considered to be                                                                    
benefits that society at large gained, such as fire protection                                                                  
services or connection to utilities.  Those type of public services                                                             
and expenditures, which are of a benefit to private schools and to                                                              
any other entity, were considered to be the indirect benefits.  The                                                             
court expressly ruled that payment of tuition from private schools                                                              
was a direct benefit, interpreting the state constitution, and they                                                             
also ruled that channeling funds through students which then went                                                               
directly to schools to pay that tuition would not remove that                                                                   
direct benefit.  That is their position and that would have to be                                                               
what he would provide to them.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1350                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if the argument was that the state does                                                              
not provide indirect aid to private institutions.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON said as he understood the argument, the framers                                                               
wanted to be able to supply indirect benefits.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE wanted to make it clear that the state does                                                                
provide indirect aid to private institutions.  They provide                                                                     
bussing, part-time attendants and the use of public school                                                                      
facilities for private school students.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON closed the public hearing.  [HJR 6 was held over]                                                             

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