Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/06/2003 01:35 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                SB 192-DOLWD TEACHERS AND TRAINING PROGRAMS                                                                 
     CHAIR BUNDE announced SB 192 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
     SENATOR GARY STEVENS,  sponsor of SB 192, said  that the Governor                                                          
     proposed to  transfer the Alaska  Vocational Tech  Center (AVTEC)                                                          
     from the Department  of Education to the Department  of Labor and                                                          
     Workforce  Development  (DOLWD) for  the  purpose  of giving  the                                                          
     Department of  Labor the authority  to employ teachers  and allow                                                          
     them to remain  members of the Teacher's  Retirement System (TRS)                                                          
     rather  than having  to be  transferred to  the Public  Employees                                                          
     Retirement System (PERS). It would  also allow future teachers to                                                          
     become  TRS members.  If this  bill  does not  pass, the  current                                                          
     teachers at AVTEC  would be transferred into the  PERS system and                                                          
out of  the TRS system.  That wouldn't  be fair to  employees who                                                               
were originally  hired with  the understanding  they would  be in                                                               
TRS.  It would  also  have a  negative impact  on  AVTEC when  it                                                               
recruits new  teachers. It  is advantageous to  be able  to offer                                                               
TRS  retirement  as  an  incentive   to  get  teachers  into  any                                                               
educational institution.  Also, SB  192 would clarify  that AVTEC                                                               
and  Kotzebue Technical  Center  will continue  to  be under  the                                                               
oversight,  planning  and  coordination responsibilities  of  the                                                               
Alaska Workforce  Investment Board (AWIB) through  the Department                                                               
of Labor and Workforce Development.                                                                                             
SENATOR STEVENS moved to adopt the  CS to SB 192(L&C), Version D,                                                               
as the working  document. There were no objections and  it was so                                                               
CHAIR  BUNDE clarified  that the  teachers  who have  transferred                                                               
from  one  department   to  another  would  have   the  same  job                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS agreed and said the bill has a zero fiscal note.                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS   said  he  was  wondering   about  the  board's                                                               
COMMISSIONER  GREG O'CLARAY,  Department of  Labor and  Workforce                                                               
Development,  said  the  legislature  wanted  to  see  vocational                                                               
training strengthened  in Alaska and  that's what this  bill will                                                               
do by  moving AVTEC  from one department  to another.  It freezes                                                               
the teachers' benefit  structure in place, which must  be done by                                                               
July  1. The  Governor believes  there are  too many  boards that                                                               
aren't being  efficient in terms  of delivering  federal training                                                               
dollars to  employers who are training  personnel. The department                                                               
is very supportive of this bill.                                                                                                
CHAIR BUNDE said it  would be nice to know if SB  192 will have a                                                               
negative fiscal note.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER O'CLARAY said DOLWD would save over $300,000.                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH asked  why this legislation is  necessary and what                                                               
would prevent him from hiring  a teacher who is currently covered                                                               
by TRS to work in the Department of Labor.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER O'CLARAY  replied that  nothing would  prevent DOLWD                                                               
from hiring the teachers, but  as state employees they would fall                                                               
under PERS because of the way the statute is structured.                                                                        
     MR.  FRED  ESPOSITO,  Director  of  AVTEC,  testified  that  many                                                          
     professionals at  the institute are mid-career  and have invested                                                          
     a  lot  of  service  into  the TRS  system  and  should  be  held                                                          
     harmless. The TRS  system is an added benefit that  AVTEC can use                                                          
     to recruit instructional staff.                                                                                            
     SENATOR STEVENS asked him to  comment on the negative results for                                                          
     teachers if SB 192 doesn't pass by the end of the session.                                                                 
     MR. ESPOSITO confirmed [the results will be negative].                                                                     
     MR.  DAVE DERUWE,  Vice President,  AVTEC Teacher's  Association,                                                          
     supported SB  192. The  Association realizes  this change  was an                                                          
     unintended consequence  of the move  to the Department  of Labor.                                                          
     Most of  the teachers have  put in  long years working  under the                                                          
     TRS  system  and are  not  interested  in  changing to  the  PERS                                                          
     MR.  JOHN  ALCANTRA,   Government  Relations  Director,  National                                                          
     Education  Association  of  Alaska,  supported  SB  192  for  the                                                          
     reasons mentioned.                                                                                                         
     SENATOR  SEEKINS moved  to pass  CSSB 192(L&C),  Version D,  from                                                          
     committee with  the promised fiscal  note from the  Department of                                                          
     Labor with individual recommendations.                                                                                     
     SENATORS DAVIS, FRENCH, SEEKINS, STEVENS  and BUNDE voted yea and                                                          
     CSSB 192(L&C) passed from committee.                                                                                       

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