Legislature(2003 - 2004)
02/18/2003 08:02 AM House STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 conforming. 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 provided]: 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 extended. 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 enacted. 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.