Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/23/2004 02:49 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 269-PARENT ACCESS TO CHILD'S LIBRARY RECORDS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The committee took up SB 269.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. JACQUELINE TUPOU, Staff to  Senator Green, presented the bill                                                               
on behalf of the sponsor and gave the following explanation:                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Current  state law  says that  parents  have access  to                                                                    
     their   children's  records   for  the   public  school                                                                    
     libraries, but  it does  not address  public libraries.                                                                    
     So this  bill clarifies  that parents have  access, not                                                                    
     only  to  public  school libraries,  they  additionally                                                                    
     have access to  public libraries.  This  issue has been                                                                    
     immensely  logistically problematic  ... [for  example,                                                                    
     the parent  of] an  8-year old  son.   She came  to the                                                                    
     Senator, and her  8-year old son had put  some books in                                                                    
     the  children's section  on hold,  and they  called the                                                                    
     mother and said 'well his  books are ready to be picked                                                                    
     up' and  she said,  'well, which  one?' and  they said,                                                                    
     'oh well  we can't  tell you that,'  and she  said 'you                                                                    
     can't tell me  which book my 8-year old son  has at the                                                                    
     library?'   and   they    said,   'no,   it's   against                                                                    
     confidentiality.'   And she was very  surprised, so she                                                                    
     contacted the Senator.  There  is also an email in your                                                                    
     packet  from  Dianne  Keller,  who   is  the  mayor  of                                                                    
     Wasilla, and it discusses  the situation where she owed                                                                    
     some fines for her son,  and they wouldn't let her know                                                                    
     about the  fines.   This law, the  way it  currently is                                                                    
     written, leaves  us with a situation  where the parents                                                                    
     are responsible to pay the  $67, and when they call and                                                                    
     say, 'what's  this $67 for?'  they say, 'well  we can't                                                                    
     tell  you,  just write  us  a  check.'   So  that's  an                                                                    
     immensely problematic situation.   And that came to the                                                                    
     Senator's attention.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     An additional  piece, you'll see  also in  your packet,                                                                    
     is an email from the  Department of Education, and this                                                                    
     has  become  an  immense   problem  -  [regarding]  the                                                                    
     parental access  to their children's records  - so much                                                                    
     that as  a result of  the 2002 Supreme  Court decision,                                                                    
     they actually  made an office,  it's called  the Family                                                                    
     Policy  Compliance Office  and it's  just policing  the                                                                    
     states that are not in compliance.   And if you are not                                                                    
     in compliance  then you will not  receive federal funds                                                                    
     for your education  programs.  So this  is an important                                                                    
     piece of legislation for us to pass today.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GUESS  asked  if  there   was  a  need  to  worry  about                                                               
emancipated minors.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU responded that since  "they don't have people that have                                                               
parental rights at  that point that could call  and access those,                                                               
... they're self taken care of."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDREE  McLEOD testified from  Anchorage in favor of  HB 269,                                                               
saying that she  is a parent of  a 21-year old.   She stated this                                                               
addresses acrimonious  public policy  pertaining to  children who                                                               
are under the age of 18.   Public libraries, paid for with public                                                               
funds, are  being permitted to withhold  information from parents                                                               
about their  minor children.  A  much deeper problem is  to allow                                                               
librarians to do as they  will, without censure.  The Legislature                                                               
is constantly  passing bills making parents  more responsible for                                                               
children's  behavior;  public  policy  providing  incentives  for                                                               
better parenting  is becoming more  exact and more detailed.   In                                                               
turn, parents  have a  moral obligation  to raise  their children                                                               
well. Ms. McLeod  emphasized the importance of  parental rights -                                                               
including obtaining  information pertaining  to their  children -                                                               
to mitigate  children's behavior,  should it  be less  than good.                                                               
Parents  are   legally  and  completely  responsible   for  their                                                               
children until  the age of  18.  She  contended that at  the very                                                               
least,  parents   do  not  need   a  publicly   funded  librarian                                                               
encroaching  on  their  inherent and  absolute  parental  rights.                                                               
Librarians  violating those  rights by  not releasing  children's                                                               
public library records  to parents should be  reproached and held                                                               
accountable.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GUESS asked  if  this bill  was  necessary, not  because                                                               
librarians  were  out  of  control,   but  because  of  currently                                                               
complying with  the law, which  says that those records  can't be                                                               
released.  She received confirmation this was correct.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  GREEN ascertained  that there  was no  further public                                                               
testimony and asked for the will of the committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS  moved to  report CSSB 269  (CRA) out  of committee                                                               
with  individual recommendations  and  the  attached zero  fiscal                                                               
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  GREEN noted  there was  no objection,  and it  was so                                                               
ordered.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                

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