Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

03/30/2009 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 137 - COMPACT: EDUCATION OF MILITARY CHILDREN                                                                              
1:15:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 137, "An Act  relating to an interstate compact on                                                               
educational opportunity  for military children; amending  Rules 4                                                               
and 24,  Alaska Rules  of Civil Procedure;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
1:15:39 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN LIDSTER,  Staff, Representative John Coghill,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of  the sponsor,  Representative Coghill,                                                               
relayed that  HB 137 would  eliminate some of the  barriers faced                                                               
by the  children of  military personnel  as they  transition from                                                               
one   school   system   to  another;   such   children,   between                                                               
kindergarten  and 12th  grade, might  move an  average of  six to                                                               
nine times.   Such moves  can be  stressful, and adoption  of the                                                               
compact  contained in  HB 139  could  ease some  of that  stress,                                                               
thereby being  of benefit to  over 12,000 school-age  children of                                                               
military  personnel.   Thus  far, [13]  states  have adopted  the                                                               
compact and [20] states have pending legislation.                                                                               
MS.  LIDSTER, referring  to the  sectional  analysis included  in                                                               
members' packets,  explained that Section  1 of HB 137  would add                                                               
to  Title 14  a  new  Chapter 34,  pertaining  to the  Interstate                                                               
Compact  on   Educational  Opportunity  for   Military  Children.                                                               
Article I [of Chapter 34's  proposed AS 14.34.010, which contains                                                               
18 articles,]  outlines the  purpose of the  compact as  being to                                                               
remove  barriers to  educational success  imposed on  children of                                                               
military  families  by  facilitating enrollment,  placement,  and                                                               
timely  graduation; by  providing enforcement  of rules,  uniform                                                               
collection  and   sharing  of   information;  and   by  promoting                                                               
coordination, flexibility,  and cooperation among  member states.                                                               
Article  II  defines  the  terms  used  throughout  the  compact.                                                               
Article III outlines  which children the compact  shall apply to.                                                               
Article   IV  addresses   educational  records   and  enrollment,                                                               
outlining  how  sending  and  receiving  states  shall  handle  a                                                               
student's official  and unofficial  records - with  the compact's                                                               
Interstate  Commission  determining  what  information  shall  be                                                               
included  in  the  latter  -  and the  timeline  for  handling  a                                                               
student's  records;  providing  for  a 30-day  grace  period  for                                                               
immunizations; and addressing entrance age and grade level.                                                                     
MS. LIDSTER explained that Article  V addresses course placement,                                                               
education   program   placement,  special   education   services,                                                               
placement  flexibility,  and   absences  related  to  deployment.                                                               
Article  VI   addresses  eligibility   for  enrollment   and  for                                                               
extracurricular   participation.       Article    VII   addresses                                                               
graduation,  providing procedures  for waivers,  exit exams,  and                                                               
transfers  during   a  student's  senior  year.     Article  VIII                                                               
addresses   coordination   among   a   compact   member   state's                                                               
government,  local  education,  and  military  agencies  via  the                                                               
establishment  of  a state  council  or  existing body  for  that                                                               
purpose, and  outlines the  membership of  such council  or body.                                                               
Article IX addresses the creation  of an Interstate Commission on                                                               
Educational   Opportunity   for   Military   Children   and   its                                                               
responsibilities, powers,  and duties, detailing  its membership,                                                               
voting rights,  meetings, executive committee, bylaws  and rules,                                                               
data collection, and a process for reporting alleged violations.                                                                
MS. LIDSTER explained that Article  X lists the powers and duties                                                               
of  the  Interstate  Commission,  including  dispute  resolution,                                                               
promulgation  of  rules,  issuing  advisory  opinions,  enforcing                                                               
compliance,  and others  related  to  establishing, running,  and                                                               
supporting the  state councils at  a national level.   Article XI                                                               
pertains  to the  organization and  operation  of the  Interstate                                                               
Commission,  providing structure  for it  to organize,  establish                                                               
bylaws,  set   up  committees,   and  establish   procedures  for                                                               
meetings,  and  providing  for  startup  rules  for  the  initial                                                               
administration of the compact.   Article XII gives the Interstate                                                               
Commission rulemaking  authority and guidelines, and  a provision                                                               
for judicial  review of proposed  rules.  Article  XIII addresses                                                               
oversight,  enforcement,  and  dispute resolution,  charging  the                                                               
three branches of  government with the purpose and  intent of the                                                               
compact,  stating that  the Interstate  Commission shall  receive                                                               
all service of process and  has standing to intervene, addressing                                                               
the consequences  of default, authorizing dispute  resolution and                                                               
mediation,  and  providing   enforcement  powers,  including  the                                                               
authority to initiate legal action.                                                                                             
MS. LIDSTER  explained that Article  XIV addresses  the financing                                                               
of the  Interstate Commission by  providing a method by  which it                                                               
may pay  reasonable expenses, collect annual  assessments, and be                                                               
audited.   Article XV addresses  membership, the  effective date,                                                               
and amendments  to the compact; specifically,  membership is open                                                               
to all states, the compact  become effective when 10 states enact                                                               
it into  law, and  amendments may be  proposed by  the Interstate                                                               
Commission and  only become  effective when  enacted into  law by                                                               
all  member  states.   Article  XVI  addresses  withdrawal  from,                                                               
reinstatement to,  and the dissolution  of the compact.   Article                                                               
XVII  pertains   to  severability  and  construction,   with  all                                                               
provisions  being severable,  with  the  compact being  liberally                                                               
construed,  and with  nothing  prohibiting  the applicability  of                                                               
other  interstate  compacts.    Article  XVIII  pertains  to  the                                                               
binding effect of  the compact and the actions  of the Interstate                                                               
Commission,  stating   that  nothing  in  the   compact  prevents                                                               
enforcement of any  other law not inconsistent  with the compact,                                                               
that all  laws inconsistent  with the  compact are  superseded by                                                               
the compact  to the extent  of the  conflict, that all  rules and                                                               
bylaws promulgated by the Interstate  Commission are binding, and                                                               
that  any  provisions  that   exceed  constitutional  limits  are                                                               
ineffective to the extent of the conflict.                                                                                      
MS.  LIDSTER explained  that Section  1's  proposed AS  14.34.020                                                               
establishes  the compact  administrator  and the  duties of  that                                                               
office; proposed AS 14.34.030 establishes  the state council as a                                                               
subcommittee; proposed  AS 14.34.040  authorizes the  adoption of                                                               
regulations;  and  proposed AS  14.34.090  provides  for a  short                                                               
title.  Section 2 provides  for indirect court rule amendments to                                                               
Rule 4  and Rule 24(b)  of the  Alaska Rules of  Civil Procedure.                                                               
[Section  3 and  4  address conditional  effects,  and Section  5                                                               
addresses the effective date.]                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  concurred  that   having  to  transfer  his                                                               
children to  a new school every  couple of years while  he served                                                               
in the military was difficult.                                                                                                  
1:29:51 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY  LeDOUX, Commissioner,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (EED),  noting that he's  been a principal at  both a                                                               
high school  and an  elementary school  in a  military community,                                                               
characterized  HB 137  as representing  strong common  sense, and                                                               
concurred that  having to change  schools every few years  can be                                                               
stressful on military families and  on the children themselves as                                                               
they try  to navigate the  new school  system and become  part of                                                               
the  new  community.    The  school  districts  serving  military                                                               
communities  in Alaska  are very  supportive, and  most districts                                                               
already follow  the proposed guidelines; the  compact, therefore,                                                               
he  surmised, is  necessary so  that other  states can  treat the                                                               
transferring children of military personnel with more respect.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER LeDOUX then provided  an example wherein one student                                                               
who'd  been transferred  five days  before  graduating from  high                                                               
school couldn't receive  any credit from his  past school because                                                               
he left early, and characterized  that example as illustrative of                                                               
the need  for the proposed compact.   He noted that  the issue of                                                               
immunizations  also   creates  a  dilemma  when   records  aren't                                                               
transferred  in a  timely manner,  because  regulations say  that                                                               
proof of immunization is required;  although most principals will                                                               
find  a  way  to  get  transferred  children  into  school,  they                                                               
shouldn't have to go to those lengths.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  LeDOUX, in  response  to questions,  said that  the                                                               
bill won't impact how school  districts deal with "special needs"                                                               
children because federal law -  the Individuals with Disabilities                                                               
Education  Act  (IDEA)  -  already  addresses  that  issue;  that                                                               
although  some  issues  might  arise  during  implementation,  he                                                               
doesn't  believe  complying with  the  proposed  compact will  be                                                               
burdensome -  again, most  schools in  Alaska already  do comply;                                                               
and that he believes the compact  would apply to children who are                                                               
being homeschooled under "an Alaska sponsored program."                                                                         
1:37:25 PM                                                                                                                    
EDDIE  JEANS, Director,  School Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department of Education and Early  Development (EED), in response                                                               
to comments,  clarified that it  would depend on whether  a child                                                               
who  is  being homeschooled  is  enrolled  in the  public  school                                                               
system  - if  so, then  the  compact would  apply, regardless  of                                                               
whether the  child is coming  to Alaska  or leaving Alaska.   The                                                               
compact would  not apply, however,  to children who are  not part                                                               
of the public school system.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  asked   whether  the   compact  would                                                               
conflict with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER LeDOUX said he doesn't believe it would.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether  the compact  would apply                                                               
to "pre-kindergarten" children.                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  LeDOUX said  many states  have a  variety of  early                                                               
learning  programs  but  nothing  consistent from  one  state  to                                                               
another, so it  would be very difficult to  define a relationship                                                               
between such programs.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG surmised, then,  that having the compact                                                               
apply to children who have  not yet entered kindergarten would be                                                               
impractical at this time.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  LeDOUX concurred,  adding  that such  would be  the                                                               
case until there  is more consistency between  states with regard                                                               
to their early learning programs.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether there  is a plan to expand                                                               
the compact  so that it would  apply to children other  than just                                                               
those of military personnel.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL suggested  that  the representative  from                                                               
the Council  of State Governments  (CSG) would be better  able to                                                               
address to that question.                                                                                                       
1:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG,  referring to  the language on  page 8,                                                               
lines 26-29, raised the issue  of possibly amending that language                                                               
to clarify that  a student placed in the care  of a non-custodial                                                               
parent or other  person standing in loco parentis  could attend a                                                               
school in that person's jurisdiction.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  LeDOUX,  in  response  to a  comment,  offered  his                                                               
belief that  the proposed compact  reflects how all  students who                                                               
transfer to Alaska are treated.                                                                                                 
MR.  JEANS  mentioned  that  the Board  of  Education  and  Early                                                               
Development  supports  HB 137,  and  that  the EED  has  received                                                               
[letters of] support from "Kodiak,  Anchorage, and Sitka" as well                                                               
as the Alaska  School Activities Association (ASAA).   He offered                                                               
his belief that there is a lot of support for [the compact].                                                                    
COMMISSIONER LeDOUX, in response  to questions, surmised that the                                                               
compact  is  intended  to  apply  to  the  children  of  military                                                               
personnel  who are  transitioning  between  two communities,  and                                                               
that as a whole, the  compact would provide school administrators                                                               
across  the  country  with  guidelines by  which  to  make  sound                                                               
decisions regarding  the children  of military  personnel, though                                                               
it might not cover every possibility.                                                                                           
1:49:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CAROL  COMEAU,   Superintendent  of  Schools,   Anchorage  School                                                               
District  (ASD), Municipality  of Anchorage  (MOA), relayed  that                                                               
the  Anchorage  school  board recently  passed  a  resolution  in                                                               
support   of   the   compact   and   believes   that   it   would                                                               
institutionalize most  of the  practices that  [Alaska's schools]                                                               
have  tried to  implement over  the years,  thereby making  those                                                               
practices part  of state law.   She  offered her belief  that the                                                               
compact would  go a long  way towards reducing the  stress placed                                                               
on military  families, particularly  during times  of deployment,                                                               
characterizing the  resulting transfers  as being in  a different                                                               
category  than  normal  transfers,   which  don't  involve  one's                                                               
parents going  to war.  She  offered her hope that  the committee                                                               
would move the  bill from committee, indicating  that [the school                                                               
board]  has  heard  examples  of  how important  it  is  for  the                                                               
children of military  personnel to be able to become  part of the                                                               
school  structure   and  involved  in  school   activities.    In                                                               
conclusion, she said, "We think this is the right thing to do."                                                                 
MS.  COMEAU,  in  response  to questions,  said  that  [the  law]                                                               
clearly  allows   school  districts   to  waive  the   exit  exam                                                               
requirement  if a  student has  passed  an exit  exam in  another                                                               
state;  that the  [Anchorage School  District] has  been able  to                                                               
"work  through" all  the various  state  history requirements  as                                                               
long  as  students transferring  in  have  completed the  history                                                               
requirements  of the  state they're  transferring from;  and that                                                               
[the  Anchorage school  district] doesn't  see anything  negative                                                               
about [the compact].                                                                                                            
1:54:54 PM                                                                                                                    
[Chair Ramras turned the gavel over to Representative Coghill.]                                                                 
THOMAS HINTON, Senior  State Liaison, Office of  the Deputy Under                                                               
Secretary  of  Defense  Military  Community  and  Family  Policy,                                                               
United States  Department of Defense  (DOD), said  he appreciates                                                               
that Alaska  is considering this legislation,  particularly given                                                               
that  it  addresses one  of  the  issues  that most  affects  the                                                               
military  community,  and that  it's  been  exciting to  see  the                                                               
[positive]  response   [to  the  proposed  compact]   across  the                                                               
[Representative Coghill returned the gavel to Chair Ramras.]                                                                    
MR.  HINTON noted  that  in  addition to  11  other states,  both                                                               
Mississippi  and Virginia  recently adopted  similar legislation.                                                               
This compact,  which can now  be activated, was developed  over a                                                               
long period of time with the  help of many, including the CSG, he                                                               
relayed, and  characterized it as the  right approach, fulfilling                                                               
the need for  coordination among the states  and school districts                                                               
when the children  of military personnel change schools.   He too                                                               
remarked that  with the variety  of early learning  programs that                                                               
different states  have, it  would be very  difficult to  define a                                                               
relationship between such programs.                                                                                             
2:02:29 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  L.   MASTERS,  Special  Counsel,  National   Center  for                                                               
Interstate  Compacts (NCIC),  The  Council  of State  Governments                                                               
(CSG), relayed  that whenever interstate problems  arise, the CSG                                                               
is  in  favor  of  interstate cooperation  whenever  possible  as                                                               
opposed  to federal  intervention, and  that the  CSG is  pleased                                                               
that 13 states  have now adopted the compact.   He mentioned that                                                               
close to  90 percent of  the nation's military  installations and                                                               
personnel  are  located  in  approximately   20  states,  and  so                                                               
although the  goal is  to have  all 50  states join  the compact,                                                               
most  of  the  [recruitment]  efforts have  been  directed  first                                                               
towards those  states with the  largest military  populations and                                                               
most  military  installations,  including Alaska  -  which  ranks                                                               
about number five.                                                                                                              
[Chair Ramras turned the gavel over to Representative Coghill.]                                                                 
MR. MASTERS  explained that  the goal was  to develop  a dynamic,                                                               
deliberately-broad mechanism  to address the  four areas  of most                                                               
concern  to   students  of   military  personnel:     enrollment,                                                               
placement  and  attendance,  eligibility, and  graduation.    The                                                               
provisions of the compact are  intended to provide broad guidance                                                               
towards a reasonable accommodation,  to "level the playing field"                                                               
so that students  of military personnel are  not penalized simply                                                               
for being  part of a  family that's  chosen to serve  the country                                                               
via the  military.   Although the compact  may not  address every                                                               
situation,   it  does   contain  the   flexibility  for   limited                                                               
rulemaking  by  individual  states   so  that  they  may  address                                                               
specific  issues  themselves.    For example,  the  issue  raised                                                               
earlier about the language on  page 8, lines 26-29, could perhaps                                                               
be addressed should doing so prove necessary.                                                                                   
MR.  MASTERS,  referring  to   earlier  questions  and  comments,                                                               
concurred that the proposed compact  won't conflict with the NCLB                                                               
Act,  and that  the compact  won't address  homeschooled students                                                               
who are  not part of  the public  school system but  will address                                                               
those  who  are,  and  relayed  that the  CSG  is  interested  in                                                               
pursuing a similar  mechanism that would apply  to children other                                                               
than  those  of military  personnel,  but  is not  interested  in                                                               
altering the  compact proposed by  HB 137 to that  effect because                                                               
it would result in two different agreements.                                                                                    
[Representative Coghill returned the gavel to Chair Ramras.]                                                                    
MR. MASTERS,  in response  to a  question, said  the name  of the                                                               
book  he coauthored  is "The  Evolving Use  and Changing  Role of                                                               
Interstate Compacts:   a Practitioner's  Guide".  In  response to                                                               
further questions, he explained that  the U.S. Supreme Court - in                                                               
West Virginia  Ex Rel. Dyer  V. Simms, 341  U.S. 22 (1951)  - has                                                             
already  ruled   that  delegating  rulemaking  authority   to  an                                                               
interstate compact agency is not  unconstitutional but is instead                                                               
an axiom  of modern  government; pointed  out that  Article XVIII                                                               
says  in part  that any  provisions  of the  compact that  exceed                                                               
constitutional  limits  are  ineffective  to the  extent  of  the                                                               
conflict; and  acknowledged that any  changes to the  articles of                                                               
the  proposed compact  would  require  legislative approval,  and                                                               
that a  legislature could stipulate  in its  enacting legislation                                                               
that  any  rules  promulgated by  the  Interstate  Commission  be                                                               
subject to legislature approval.                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 137.                                                                                     
2:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to report  HB 137 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  137 was  reported from  the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB137 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
01 HB108 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
02 Hb137 Sectional.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
03 HB137 Bill version R.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
04 HB137 EDU Fiscal Note.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
05 HB137 Case Studies.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
06 HB137 Letter of SupportOpposition.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 137
03 HB108 Explaination of Changes version R to P.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
04 HB108 Sectional 3.27.09.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
05 HB108 REV FN Zero.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
06 HB108 Bill CSHb108(L&C) version R.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
07 HB108 Bill Version A.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
08 HB108 Letters of SupportOpposition.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108
CSHB108(LC)-DOR-AHFC-3-30-09.pdf HJUD 3/30/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 108