Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/18/2003 08:02 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  20-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIRED TEACHERS                                                                                       
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  20,  "An  Act relating  to  reemployment of  and                                                               
benefits  for retired  teachers and  principals, including  those                                                               
who  participated in  retirement incentive  programs, and  to the                                                               
employment  as  teachers  of members  of  the  public  employees'                                                               
retirement  system who  participated  in  a retirement  incentive                                                               
program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
[In  committee packets  was a  new proposed  committee substitute                                                               
(CS), Version 23-LS0130\D, Craver, 2/17/03.]                                                                                    
Number 0095                                                                                                                     
GUY  BELL,   Director,  Health  Benefits  Section,   Division  of                                                               
Retirement & Benefits,  Department of Revenue, in  response to an                                                               
introductory  question   by  Chair  Weyhrauch,  said   that  [the                                                               
department] doesn't  have a position on  [broadening the language                                                               
of the  bill to include  public employees].   He agreed  that the                                                               
addition would  certainly broaden the  bill, but said he  did not                                                               
know that  that was the  intention when [HB 20]  was [previously]                                                               
discussed.    He said  he  thinks  that, ultimately,  adding  the                                                               
reference  to  public  employees  confused the  issue  more  than                                                               
clarified it.                                                                                                                   
MR. BELL  noted that the  proposed CS [Version D]  adds reference                                                               
to  employees,   rather  than  public  employees,   because,  for                                                               
example, "a  principal may not  necessarily be a teacher,  but an                                                               
employee  of  a  school  district."   He  offered  the  following                                                               
parenthetical comment:                                                                                                          
     The  definition   of  "teacher"  under   the  Teachers'                                                                    
     Retirement System  statute is  broad, in that  ... it's                                                                    
     "anyone  requiring   certification,"  and   that  would                                                                    
     include   a   principal,   a   superintendent,   or   a                                                                    
     schoolteacher.   And  so,  the  reference to  "teacher"                                                                    
     really  would have  been sufficient;  I  think this  is                                                                    
     just  an effort  to make  it extra  clear, through  the                                                                    
     committee substitute.                                                                                                      
Number 0235                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  if the  definition  would  include                                                               
anyone in  the central office,  for example, who was  required to                                                               
have certification.                                                                                                             
MR. BELL said yes, a teaching certificate.                                                                                      
Number 0292                                                                                                                     
CARL  ROSE,  Executive  Director, Association  of  Alaska  School                                                               
Boards (AASB),  in response to  a query by Chair  Weyhrauch, said                                                               
that he  had seen the  proposed CS.  He  said he thinks  that the                                                               
bill is "dealing  with something that is symptomatic  of a larger                                                               
issue."   He told  the committee  that, over  the last  15 years,                                                               
"we"  have been  unable to  keep pace  with the  cost of  living;                                                               
therefore, it  is difficult to  attract and  retain "certificated                                                               
staff."  People  who have retired from a long  career in teaching                                                               
are coming back to fill the void.                                                                                               
MR. ROSE said  that many of his colleagues  are "counseling their                                                               
youngsters out  of the profession"  because of the lack  of value                                                               
that "we" place  on it.  Salaries have suffered  because of "our"                                                               
inability to deal  with the fixed cost of operating  schools.  He                                                               
stated, "This  will give us  an opportunity to bring  some people                                                               
back as  a stop-gap measure, but  I think in [the  long] term, we                                                               
have a larger issue to deal  with, and that is, how we compensate                                                               
people  in the  profession."   He said  that [AASB]  supports [HB
20], especially the  change that would allow people  to come back                                                               
without penalty.                                                                                                                
Number 0546                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  referred to the  proposed CS.   He said                                                               
that the  specific intent of  an amendment [which he  had offered                                                               
during  the House  State Affairs  Standing  Committee meeting  on                                                               
February 6, 2003] was to allow  the employment of, for example, a                                                               
retired  biologist who  had  gone  back to  school  and earned  a                                                               
teaching certificate.   He added, "It was a very  limited type of                                                               
amendment."  He said that he  wants to be sure that "this doesn't                                                               
open the door beyond that."                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  indicated that when the  proposed CS is                                                               
adopted, he will  recommend the following amendment:   On page 1,                                                               
line 12, add "retired public" before the word "employees".                                                                      
Number 0673                                                                                                                     
MR. BELL responded that that  issue would be addressed in Section                                                               
3, [page 2, lines 23-30, of Version D], which read as follows:                                                                  
     *Sec.3.  AS  14.25.043  is  amended  by  adding  a  new                                                                    
     subsection to read:                                                                                                        
               (d) A member of the public employees/                                                                            
          retirement   system   who    participated   in   a                                                                    
          retirement incentive program under ch. 26, SLA                                                                        
          1986; ch. 89, SLA 1989; ch. 65, SLA 1996; ch. 4,                                                                      
          FSSLA 1996; or ch. 92, SLA 1997, who subsequently                                                                     
          becomes a teacher under a policy adopted in                                                                           
          accordance with AS 14.20.135(a) may become an                                                                         
          active member under AS 14.25.040 without losing                                                                       
          the   incentive   credit    provided   under   the                                                                    
       subject to any related reemployment indebtedness.                                                                        
MR. BELL explained that [14.20.135(a)]  permits the employment of                                                               
retired teachers, or employees who  are qualified - he emphasized                                                               
"qualified" - to teach or work  in an educational discipline.  He                                                               
said  that's the  suggestion of  Barbara  Craver [of  Legislative                                                               
Legal and  Research Services, who  drafted the proposed  CS], and                                                               
he  said he  agrees that  that addresses  any concern  that "that                                                               
retired fisheries biologist  from PERS would be able  to obtain a                                                               
certificate [indisc.]."                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG pointed  out "that  provision addresses                                                               
14.25, which is  the retirement chapter."  "Section  1," he said,                                                               
"addresses  14.20,  which  is  school boards."    He  stated  his                                                               
assumption that the  purpose of putting Section 1 in  the bill to                                                               
begin  with, was  "to conform  14.20  with 14.25."   He  pondered                                                               
whether it would  be necessary to have a  conforming amendment to                                                               
14.20,  "to allow  school boards  to adopt  resolutions to  allow                                                               
these teachers to come back."                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG stated  his understanding  that "14.25"                                                               
deals with the  teachers themselves, but the  hiring procedure is                                                               
addressed in "14.20," which is the language to the school board.                                                                
Number 0866                                                                                                                     
MR.  BELL told  Representative  Gruenberg that  he believes  that                                                               
"14.20" makes  no reference  to public  employees, it  only makes                                                               
reference  to a  restriction to  retired teachers;  therefore, he                                                               
stated  that  he  does  not   think  it  presents  a  problem  in                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated  his concern is that  he does not                                                               
want a  future generation of  legislators to [be left  with] "any                                                               
kind of  legal question."   He asked Mr.  Bell, "Do you  feel, on                                                               
behalf  of the  Division of  Retirement &  Benefits, that  that's                                                               
clear enough on the record that  there'd never be any question at                                                               
that point?"                                                                                                                    
MR. BELL answered,  "Yes, I believe it's very  clear - especially                                                               
with the record as it is -  that that's the intent."  In response                                                               
to a remark by Representative  Gruenberg, Mr. Bell concurred that                                                               
the amendment  on [page 1], line  12, to add the  words ["retired                                                               
public"]  before "employee",  is not  necessary, and  he said  he                                                               
would leave  the decision to  the committee.   He noted  that the                                                               
title has been changed in the  proposed CS, "and the reference to                                                               
employees."   He stated that he  thinks the [proposed] CS,  as it                                                               
stands, is clear.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said, "Well  then, we'll just  leave it                                                               
the way it is."                                                                                                                 
Number 0996                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for HB 20,  Version 23-LS0131\D, Craver, 2/17/03,                                                               
as a work draft.  There  being no objection, Version D was before                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
Number 1054                                                                                                                     
MR. BELL,  in response  to a  question by  Representative Seaton,                                                               
said  that [Section  3,  page 2,  line 23]  was  included in  the                                                               
original  bill, whereas  Section 2  has been  amended in  the CS,                                                               
lines 19-22, clarifying that  "the reemployment indebtedness does                                                               
not apply."  He said that  that was an amendment requested by the                                                               
Division of Retirement  and Benefits.  He noted that  the CS also                                                               
adds "or employees"  on line 1 of the title  [replacing the words                                                               
"and principals"], and  the phrases "or employees"  and "or work"                                                               
on page 1, [lines 11-12].                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  if  the CS  was  even necessary  to                                                               
accomplish the purposes that [the committee] has stated.                                                                        
MR.  BELL  responded that  he  does  not  think it  necessary  to                                                               
include the  language, but it does  no harm and could  be left in                                                               
for clarification.                                                                                                              
MR. BELL responded to questions  from Chair Weyhrauch as follows:                                                               
He said he has worked with  the Division of Retirement & Benefits                                                               
for over  five years;  he concurred that  he has  had substantial                                                               
experience  in dealing  "with these  kinds of  measures"; and  he                                                               
responded  that  he  does  not think  that  the  language  [being                                                               
considered] would,  as Chair Weyhrauch phrased  it, "help clarify                                                               
it for you in terms of administering this."                                                                                     
Number 1245                                                                                                                     
DOUG  LETCH,  Staff  to   Representative  Stevens,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  referred to  the previous  discussion of  the added                                                               
phrase, "or work"  and stated that that was  a proposed amendment                                                               
from  the   Department  of  Education,  because   it  hires  some                                                               
certified teachers to work in its departmental programs.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG referred to page  3, [lines 2-4], of the                                                               
[proposed  CS],  which  read  as  follows  [original  punctuation                                                               
          Sec. 12.  AS 14.20.135, as amended by sec. 1 of                                                                   
     this 2003  Act; AS 14.25.043(b),  as amended by  sec. 2                                                            
     of this 2003  Act; AS 14.25.043(d), added by  sec. 3 of                                                                
     this  2003 Act;  AS 39.35.120(b)(2),  39.35.150(b), and                                                                
     39.35.150(c) are repealed July 1, 2005.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked why  it is  necessary to  say "as                                                           
amended" or "as added", because  he said he thought that language                                                       
would not normally be added.   He clarified, "If you're repealing                                                               
a statute, you repeal a statute, ... including its amendments."                                                                 
Number 1350                                                                                                                     
MR.  LETCH stated  his  belief that  when  this legislation  came                                                               
before the legislature  [during the second session  of the Twenty                                                               
Second Legislative Session,  2002] as HB 416, the  members of the                                                               
Special Committee  on Education, who  drafted the bill,  wanted a                                                               
sunset  date.   When the  bill was  reintroduced [as  HB 20],  he                                                               
explained, the  bulk of the  language was  kept and the  date was                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG clarified  that  he  was not  concerned                                                               
about  the  date,  but  by  the phrase,  "as  amended  by".    He                                                               
reiterated, "Normally,  if you repeal  a statute, you  repeal the                                                               
current form of the statute."                                                                                                   
MR. LETCH suggested deferring that  question to Legislative Legal                                                               
And Research Services.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  opined  that "it  would  certainly  be                                                               
necessary to add  the bold language:   'AS 14.25.043(d)', because                                                           
that is a new statute that's enacted in Section 3 of the Act."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked why there  is a law against hiring                                                               
teachers [who have previously retired in RIP].                                                                                  
MR.  LETCH replied  that he  does not  know why.   He  said that,                                                               
currently, a  person who participated  in RIP who comes  back [to                                                               
teach]  must  pay  back  105   percent  of  the  benefits  he/she                                                               
received.     He   stated   that   Representative  Stevens   and,                                                               
previously, [the  members of] the Special  Committee on Education                                                               
felt that  that would keep people  from coming back to  fill some                                                               
of the shortages present in the state.                                                                                          
Number 1504                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  opined that  that particular  Section -                                                               
[AS]14.20.135(c)  - was  a  mistake and  never  should have  been                                                               
Number 1430                                                                                                                     
MR. BELL offered the following explanation:                                                                                     
     I think  that the  reference in [subsection](c)  [of AS                                                                    
     14.20.135] is  under this Section,  so it  only applies                                                                    
     to the hiring  of teachers because of a  shortage.  So,                                                                    
     the  declaration  prospect  does not  apply  to  hiring                                                                    
     "RIPed" teachers.   I think [AS  14.20.135](c) was just                                                                    
     added to make  it clear that, even if you  do declare a                                                                    
     shortage, you can't hire RIPed  teachers back, and this                                                                    
     would repeal that  provision, because that's consistent                                                                    
     with the rest of this bill.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG concluded as follows:                                                                                  
     The  language  in  subsection  (c)  says,  "under  this                                                                    
     Section", and  I couldn't,  as a  layperson -  a person                                                                    
     not familiar  with this  area of  the law  - understand                                                                    
     what  that  meant.    But,  the  way  it's  interpreted                                                                    
     doesn't prohibit  the hiring of the  teachers, but just                                                                    
     requires them to pay 105 percent back.                                                                                     
MR. BELL said, "Exactly, yes."                                                                                                  
Number 1590                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  moved  to   report  CSHB  20,  Version  23-                                                               
LS0130\D,  Craver, 2/17/03,  out  of  committee [with  individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying  fiscal notes].  There being                                                               
no objection,  CSHB 20(STA) was  reported out of the  House State                                                               
Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                                     

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