Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/18/1996 03:05 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 301 An Act relating to postsecondary education. Co-chairman Halford directed that SB 301 be brought on for discussion. SENATOR LYDA GREEN came before committee accompanied by her aide, MIKE TIBBLES. She referenced an Executive Order relating to postsecondary education and noted a preference for effecting changes through legislation. The Senator pointed to outdated federal requirements "that were being transferred from one agency to another." Legislation will effectively repeal those. Further, if changes within postsecondary were made via Executive Order, the legislature would lose oversight and ability to confirm board members. The legislature should maintain some control over individuals making financial decisions which ultimately impact many Alaskan students. The proposed bill would move the Alaska Student Loan Corporation from the Dept. of Education to the Dept. of Revenue and transfer the functions of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education to the Alaska Student Loan Corporation. It attempts to change composition of the corporate board to eliminate special interests and create a majority of public members and a minority of commissioners. The legislative confirmation process would be continued under the bill. There is a further requirement that the corporation establish separate accounts for the teachers' scholarship revolving loan fund account and the family education loan account. The bill also includes a correction to SB 123 wherein the prorata shares for half-time graduate and undergraduate students was reversed. SB 123 also established full-time career educations as six weeks in length. The proposed bill establishes the shortest half-time career educational programs as at least twelve weeks in length. The loan origination fee will be used to offset default loses in the memorial scholarship loan program. And a new provision is added to allow those participating in the family education program to make payments earlier than required by law. WAMI is moved to the University of Alaska to simplify the budget process. Senator Rieger expressed concern that the corporation is "getting into deeper and deeper trouble ever since we went to bonding back in 1986 . . . ." He voiced additional concern over proposed transfer of WICHE and WAMI to the University. Senator Rieger also raised concern regarding public interest language within Section 6 at page 4. Mike Tibbles advised that WICHE would remain in place. It is merely being transferred from the commission to the corporation. It is the WAMI program that would be transferred to the University. Senator Green noted that display of WAMI funding as a single item would provided a better indication of what is actually being spent. Speaking to concern regarding Section 6, Mr. Tibbles explained that AS 14.42.050 (legal counsel for the commission) is deleted in the repealing section. Language within Section 6 appears to be the same as that removed. It is merely being taken from the commission and placed in the corporation. Senator Green concurred that a great amount of the proposed bill involves renaming what previously related to the commission to make it apply to the corporation. Co-chairman Halford raised a question concerning past legal opinions that corporate boards are not subject to legislative confirmation because they do not fit under current confirmation law. Mr. Tibbles said statutes spell out the members of the commission and hold them subject to confirmation. The corporation consists of the members of the commission. Senator Rieger MOVED to delete Section 2 and effect necessary conforming amendments associated with removal. WAMI would thus remain as it is. Senator Green expressed interest in examining the WAMI program. She suggested that it is not doing as intended in terms of luring students back to Alaska once they have completed their education. No objection having been raised, Amendment No. 1 to remove Section 2 was ADOPTED. Senator Rieger MOVED that CSSB 301 (Fin) pass from committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. No objection having been raised, CSSB 301 (Fin) was REPORTED OUT of committee with the following fiscal notes: Dept. of Revenue $45.0 Dept. of Education/Student Loans 6.0 Dept. of Education/Inst.Auth. 125.0 DOE/Postsecondary/Boards and Comm. 64.2 DOE/Postsecondary/Administration (22.0) Co-chairmen Halford and Frank signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation. Senators Phillips, Rieger, Sharp, and Zharoff signed "no recommendation." ADJOURNMENT The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:05 p.m.