Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/03/2015 03:00 PM House HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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Audio Topic
03:07:08 PM Start
03:07:27 PM Presentation: Alaska Commission on Aging
03:53:55 PM HB76
04:08:11 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Commission on Aging
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
          HB 76-GOV COUNCIL ON DISABILITIES/SPECIAL ED                                                                      
3:53:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 76, "An Act  relating to the Governor's Council on                                                               
Disabilities and Special Education."                                                                                            
3:54:31 PM                                                                                                                    
GRACE  ABBOTT,  Staff,  Representative Charisse  Millett,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, explained  that  proposed HB  76 removed  the                                                               
word  "gifted"  from  the enabling  statute  for  the  Governor's                                                               
Council on  Disabilities and Special Education.   She paraphrased                                                               
from the sponsor statement, which read:                                                                                         
     The mission  of the Governor's Council  on Disabilities                                                                    
     and  Special Education  is  to,  "[create] change  that                                                                    
     improves  the  lives  of Alaskans  with  disabilities."                                                                    
     Since  1978, the  Council has  provided a  constructive                                                                    
     process   that   has    connected   the   public   with                                                                    
     policymakers  to ensure  the thoughtful  development of                                                                    
     an efficient and seamless  service delivery system that                                                                    
     meets  the  needs   of  individuals  with  disabilities                                                                    
     across their life spans.                                                                                                   
     However, within  their enabling statutes, the  State of                                                                    
     Alaska  also   included  "gifted"  persons   among  the                                                                    
     individuals  that   the  Council  need  work   for  and                                                                    
     support.  The Council believes  the term "gifted" to be                                                                    
     confusing  and ill-fitting  within the  scope of  their                                                                    
     aims  and   objectives.    Furthermore,   they  believe                                                                    
     "gifted" should be removed for the following reasons:                                                                      
          Exceptionality is not a disability that entitles                                                                      
     students to  special education.  Gifted education  is a                                                                    
     regular education  program over  which the  council has                                                                    
     no oversight.                                                                                                              
          Gifted children are not eligible for additional                                                                       
     services  under   the  Individuals   with  Disabilities                                                                    
     Education   Act   (IDEA)    or   the   Americans   with                                                                    
     Disabilities  Act (ADA),  policies  whose adherence  is                                                                    
     required per the Council's responsibilities.                                                                               
          Neither federal nor state law provide for special                                                                     
     employment benefits,  or special avenues  through which                                                                    
     to  advocate for  employment  for  those classified  as                                                                    
     The  Governor's Council  works  tirelessly to  advocate                                                                    
     for   and  access   housing,  employment,   independent                                                                    
     living, health, transportation  and community inclusion                                                                    
     for  Alaskans with  disabilities.    Removing the  word                                                                    
     "gifted"  from their  enabling  statutes allows  Alaska                                                                    
     law   to   be   updated    with   the   most   accurate                                                                    
     representation of the mission  and work of the Council,                                                                    
     as  well as  provide future  Council membership  with a                                                                    
     clear roadmap for success.                                                                                                 
3:56:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON asked  for  clarification, page  2,  line 14,  that                                                               
changing the citation  was updating the reference  in the federal                                                               
MS. ABBOTT  expressed her agreement,  noting that the  policy was                                                               
the same at the federal level.                                                                                                  
3:57:11 PM                                                                                                                    
[Chair Seaton opened public testimony]                                                                                          
PATRICK  REINHART,  Executive  Director,  Governor's  Council  on                                                               
Disabilities and Special Education,  reiterated that the proposed                                                               
bill was "cleaning  up our mission versus what's  in our statute,                                                               
so that  we don't get confusion  on the public."   He stated that                                                               
this had been on the agenda to fix for quite a while.                                                                           
3:58:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTIE  REINHARDT,  Governor's   Council  on  Disabilities  and                                                               
Special  Education, said  that  she was  staff  for the  council,                                                               
specifically  for  the Special  Education  Advisory  Panel.   She                                                               
reported that  one council responsibility was  to the Individuals                                                               
with Disabilities  Education Act (IDEA) stakeholder  group, which                                                               
oversees and  advises special  education.   She pointed  out that                                                               
the  Special Education  Advisory  Panel  was federally  mandated,                                                               
although Alaska was the only  state where this panel resided with                                                               
the Council  on Developmental  Disabilities.   She said  that the                                                               
panel  advised   and  administered  special   education  programs                                                               
statewide.  She pointed to a  conflict, noting that in 2002 there                                                               
had been  regulatory changes made to  state education regulations                                                               
in response  to statutory  changes which  had removed  gifted and                                                               
talented education  from special education and  related services.                                                               
She  reported  that gifted  and  talented  exceptionality was  no                                                               
longer  considered a  disability  program.   There  were now  two                                                               
entirely separate programs.  One  of which, the special education                                                               
program,  had  very  complicated,   mandated  federal  and  state                                                               
statutes,  regulations, policies,  and  procedures; whereas,  the                                                               
gifted  and   talented  program   was  primarily   developed  and                                                               
administered by  the local school  district or  education agency.                                                               
She  noted  that these  programs  were  also funded  differently.                                                               
While  there were  some individuals  with a  disability who  were                                                               
also gifted and  talented, there was very  little overlap between                                                               
the  two programs.    She pointed  out that,  as  there was  very                                                               
little  state  oversight for  the  gifted  and talented  program,                                                               
there was often confusion from  the parents with concerns for the                                                               
quality of  the school districts'  gifted and  talented education                                                               
programs.    She  said  there  was  not  a  gifted  and  talented                                                               
education program  advisory committee  and no  specified mandated                                                               
funding.  She expressed an  understanding for the concerns of the                                                               
parents for  their children's  education, but  this did  not fall                                                               
within  the  purview  of  the   council  to  effectively  advise,                                                               
monitor, or advocate.                                                                                                           
CHAIR SEATON asked about whether  it was an efficient process for                                                               
the Governor's  Council on Disabilities and  Special Education to                                                               
be the funding conduit.                                                                                                         
MS. REINHARDT replied  that this was a  fantastic partnership, as                                                               
they  were  able to  work  closely  with the  early  intervention                                                               
program, as  well as some  of the  other programs at  the council                                                               
which  looked across  the life  span of  support for  individuals                                                               
with  a disability.   She  pointed out  that the  kids in  school                                                               
would  be transitioning  into the  workforce, and  as Alaska  was                                                               
small enough, the  program work could be  through one centralized                                                               
agency.  She noted that  the Special Education Advisory Panel met                                                               
once each  month, even though  it was only federally  required to                                                               
meet  quarterly, and  that the  panel was  a very  active working                                                               
group with  a large number  of committed individuals  invested in                                                               
quality special education services in Alaska.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  if one of the purposes  for the change                                                               
to remove gifted was to  relieve responsibility by the council to                                                               
the parents of gifted children.                                                                                                 
MS. REINHARDT replied that a  requirement for gifted and talented                                                               
programs  was for  the local  education agency  to have  a review                                                               
plan,  which  was administered  by  the  local school  board,  as                                                               
opposed to  being overseen by the  state.  She reported  that the                                                               
council worked  at a  state policy  level, and  not at  the local                                                               
level.   She  shared  another difference  that special  education                                                               
funding was  federal and state  match, whereas there was  not any                                                               
designated  funding  for  gifted  and talented  education.    She                                                               
stated that  local school  districts were  able to  access gifted                                                               
and talented funding through the  AS 5(d)(6) funds.  She declared                                                               
that the spending was determined at the local level.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  asked  for  the  total  budget  for  the                                                               
MR. REINHART replied that the council  budget was a bit less than                                                               
$2.1  million, and  its responsibility  to the  special education                                                               
advisory  panel  was  a  pass through  amount  from  the  federal                                                               
government  to  the  Alaska Department  of  Education  and  Early                                                               
Development.   He offered his  belief that this amount  was about                                                               
$170,000.    He  explained  that  the  council  was  multi-level,                                                               
combining many different  responsibilities, including the special                                                               
education advisory panel.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ asked  how much  of the  budget was  from                                                               
general funds.                                                                                                                  
MR. REINHART stated  that there were not any  general funds among                                                               
the ten  funding sources  in the  council budget,  which included                                                               
Alaska  Mental Health  Trust Authority  funding and  pass through                                                               
funding from the federal government.                                                                                            
4:07:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
[HB 76 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB76 Version A.PDF HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 Sectional Analysis.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 Legislative Research Brief regarding intent.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 Letter of Support Governors Council.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
HB76 Fiscal Note DHSS.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
HB 76
Roadmap Presentation_Commission on aging_3.3.2015.pdf HHSS 3/3/2015 3:00:00 PM
Presentations by DHSS