Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2003 01:35 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           SB 179-TEACHER CERTIFICATION: FINGERPRINTS                                                                       
CHAIR FRED DYSON announced SB 179 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
MR.   ZACH  WARWICK,   staff  to   Senator  Therriault,   said  a                                                               
constituent who  is a teacher brought  the idea behind SB  179 to                                                               
Senator  Therriault's attention.  This  teacher  left Alaska  for                                                               
many years  and came back and  had to renew her  license. She was                                                               
required to submit fingerprints as  part of the process. Teaching                                                               
and  nursing  are  two  of  the  leading  professions  for  which                                                               
fingerprints get worn out to the  point of being unreadable. As a                                                               
result,  this  teacher,  who  is  currently  teaching,  has  been                                                               
resubmitting her fingerprints  for the past couple  of years. The                                                               
state  has  to   keep  reprocessing  the  prints   and  give  her                                                               
conditional certificates every three months.                                                                                    
The  Department of  Education and  Early  Development (DEED)  did                                                               
some  research and  found that  42  people have  had to  resubmit                                                               
three  sets  of  fingerprints  in nine  months.  This  bill  adds                                                               
language that says if a  person cannot submit legible fingerprint                                                               
cards due to  a permanent disability that  precludes the person's                                                               
ability to submit  fingerprints. A number of people  in the state                                                               
without fingers or hands are attempting to teach.                                                                               
MR. WARWICK said  that the DEED feels that the  language on lines                                                               
5  to  7, starting  with  "whenever"  and ending  with  "teacher"                                                               
should  be deleted,  because  that paragraph  does  not refer  to                                                               
fingerprints  in reference  to  a  teaching certificate.  Another                                                               
concern  expressed by  the  person  who does  the  hiring in  the                                                               
Palmer  school  district  said   that  the  district  never  gets                                                               
fingerprint  checks  back  within   three  months  and  suggested                                                               
changing to a five-month period.                                                                                                
The  Governor's Office  also said  that it  has some  issues with                                                               
fingerprints.  Supposedly, the  state is  not in  compliance with                                                               
federal law regarding fingerprint  background checks. He said the                                                               
Governor's  Office  did not  have  time  to prepare  a  committee                                                               
substitute before the meeting today.                                                                                            
CHAIR DYSON asked  Mr. Warwick if Senator  Therriault would agree                                                               
to  conceptual amendments  and if  it  is important  to get  this                                                               
legislation enacted this session.                                                                                               
MR. WARWICK  indicated the conceptual  amendments would be  up to                                                               
the  chairman, but  if  this legislation  passes  this year,  the                                                               
teachers would  not have  to go  through the  application process                                                               
again. The  Department of Administration  (DOA) has asked  for an                                                               
extension  until July  2004 to  bring the  fingerprint background                                                               
checks into compliance,  but if that request is  turned down, DOA                                                               
might not get federal help to do the background checks.                                                                         
SENATOR  GARY  WILKEN  said  he  had two  and  a  half  pages  of                                                               
conceptual amendments for the committee to look at.                                                                             
MS.  MELINDA  PRUSAK  said  she   tried  to  renew  her  teaching                                                               
credential in  December 2002 and her  fingerprints were rejected.                                                               
She reprinted two  more times in Fairbanks and then  had a public                                                               
safety  officer in  Anchorage  do the  printing.  She then  tried                                                               
going  to   the  FBI  and   others,  but  her   fingerprints  are                                                               
MS. ANNIE  CARPENETI, Criminal Division, Department  of Law, said                                                               
that several areas of state law  require a background check for a                                                               
person to get a license,  generally people who work with children                                                               
and vulnerable  adults. The FBI  requires states to  have certain                                                               
statutory provisions  to participate in its  national repository.                                                               
A  review  of  the  statute   in  2001  identified  a  number  of                                                               
inadequacies, but  without an extension  of the July  1 deadline,                                                               
the state  will be unable  to get national background  checks for                                                               
people like  teachers. She noted that  Senator Wilken's amendment                                                               
took care of her concerns and had been approved by the FBI.                                                                     
SENATOR  WILKEN  moved  to  adopt  Amendment  1.  There  were  no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               
SENATOR  WILKEN  moved to  adopt  conceptual  Amendment 2,  which                                                               
would  change  three  months  to   five  months.  There  were  no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN  moved to delete  language on  page 1, line  5, to                                                               
the word  "teacher" in line  7. There  were no objections  and it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR WILKEN  moved to pass  CSSB 179(HES) from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations.  There were no objections  and it was                                                               
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
MR.   KEVIN   SWEENEY,   Department  of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development,  said  the department  had  some  problems with  the                                                               
bill, but it would work them out with the sponsor.                                                                              
MS. DIANE  SCHENKER, Department of  Public Safety,  supported the                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects