Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/11/1999 03:43 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 226 - CREDITED SERVICE FOR ON-THE-JOB INJURIES                                                                               
Number 0020                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON announced the next order of business as House                                                                 
Bill No. 226, "An Act relating to credited service under the                                                                    
teachers' retirement system for education employees on leave                                                                    
without pay or receiving workers' compensation benefits because of                                                              
certain on-the-job injuries."                                                                                                   
Number 0051                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt the proposed committee                                                              
substitute (CS) for HB 226, version 1-LSO917\D, Cramer, 5/11/99, as                                                             
a work draft.  There being no objection, Version D was before the                                                               
Number 100                                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIRMAN COGHILL explained that if teachers are assaulted on the                                                             
job and are out of duty, they lose certain benefits.  They do not                                                               
accrue leave or get that time credited to their retirement benefit.                                                             
House Bill 226 simply lets the teachers have their benefits from                                                                
the effects of violent assault.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if he were a teacher and came down with                                                              
pneumonia, he would be covered, but if he were assaulted and was                                                                
out for three or four weeks recuperating, he wouldn't be covered.                                                               
RYNNIEVA MOSS, Legislative Assistant for Representative John                                                                    
Coghill, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to testify.  She                                                                
answered that there is an imparity between the Public Employees                                                                 
Retirement System (PERS) and the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS).                                                             
Currently for any reason, a teacher cannot buy credit service, but                                                              
under PERS, a public employee can.  This bill also brings parity                                                                
because it allows teachers to fall into that same benefit as PERS.                                                              
If teachers are off the job because of an occupational illness or                                                               
injury, they can buy credit service time.  Also, HB 226 qualifies                                                               
all school employees for the benefit of being off the job from a                                                                
physical injury which resulted from an assault; the employer would                                                              
pay the credited service time.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked how many teachers are in that situation in                                                              
a given year.                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS replied that she knows of one.  There are very few                                                                     
revisions in the proposed CS because of a conversation with                                                                     
Retirement and Benefits to make sure that the language of the                                                                   
legislation covered the intent and was very clean so there couldn't                                                             
be any misinterpretation of who qualified and who didn't.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if a teacher injured on the job without                                                              
being assaulted would be covered.                                                                                               
MS. MOSS answered that his retirement is not covered.  Public                                                                   
employees under PERS are covered; teachers under TRS are not.                                                                   
CO-CHAIRMAN DYSON asked why HB 226 does not have a fiscal note.                                                                 
MS. MOSS answered that it would not affect the state fiscally; the                                                              
school district would contribute to the retirement if a teacher                                                                 
were injured from an assault.                                                                                                   
JOHN CYR, President, National Education Association, Alaska                                                                     
(NEA-AK), came forward to testify in support of HB 226.  This                                                                   
legislation will only affect those people who are actually                                                                      
assaulted while working on the job.  Currently, if a teacher is ill                                                             
and has to leave work, he has sick leave, which is a paid status,                                                               
and he continues in his retirement status.  But if a teacher is                                                                 
hurt on the job, he is eligible for worker's compensation.  Being                                                               
on worker's compensation is a leave-without-pay status, which means                                                             
he is no longer eligible for the retirement benefits.  In those few                                                             
cases where teachers are assaulted while doing their job, they                                                                  
deserve the protection of at least keeping their retirement.  In                                                                
the future, he hopes that no one needs this.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked Mr. Cyr if non-certified employees are                                                               
covered as well.                                                                                                                
MR. CYR answered yes.                                                                                                           
GUY BELL, Director, Division of Retirement and Benefits, Department                                                             
of Administration, came forward to answer questions.  The main                                                                  
section that brings TRS on par with PERS allowing people to pay for                                                             
credited service while on leave-without-pay due to an on-the-job                                                                
injury is Section 3 (d).  The other sections of the bill address                                                                
the issue of physical assault to a teacher or another school                                                                    
district employee.  Under those situations, the employer would be                                                               
fully responsible for the cost of the TRS time.                                                                                 
Number 0699                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER made a motion to move CSHB 226, version                                                                 
1-LSO917\D, Cramer, 5/11/99, from committee with individual                                                                     
recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note.  There being no                                                              
objection, CSHB 226(HES) moved from the House Health, Education and                                                             
Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                                             

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