Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211
04/02/2009 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 126-REEMPLOYMENT OF RETIREES; EXEMPT SERVICE CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of SB 126. 9:40:24 AM SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) to SB 126, labeled 26-GS1035\S, as a working document. There being no objection, Version S was before the committee. DAN WAYNE, Attorney, Legislative Legal and Research Services Division, Alaska State Legislature, said the CS creates a six- month waiting period between the time a person can retire and be rehired. On page 3, line 4, the bill deletes the language "in the executive branch of state government". This is significant because "we've taken out the words on line 27 similar to the procedure." This makes all employers subject to the procedure. CHAIR MENARD surmised that it deletes "executive branch" and will apply to any employer. 9:43:08 AM MR. WAYNE said that is correct. A memo in the committee packet explains a technical change on page 3. There was a bill in 2005 that called for a repeal in 2009 of certain statutes. Two of those statutes were moved to other places. So the bill was amended to target that language more accurately. After the repeal in 2010, there won't be language left in statute that refers to rehired retirees. CHAIR MENARD said the sunset date will be 2010 instead of 2013. MR. WAYNE said yes, and the title was changed because Section 1 was deleted. He believes that Section 1 would have put some employees into exempt service. CHAIR MENARD said on page 2, line 7, "we took out the word 'similar' to clarify that it applies to all employers." The bill was also changed from 5 to 3 applicants. Section 1 was removed so that DNR employees are left as they are now with the thought that they would be addressed in separate legislation. MR. WAYNE said it was taken out, but he doesn't know why. CHAIR MENARD said, "On 3, we removed the chief economist and left in the comptroller." MR. WAYNE said yes, and the title was changed to reflect that. 9:47:33 AM CHAIR MENARD apologized that citizens from Ketchikan were not allowed to speak at the last meeting. She spoke to them personally, and she believes in an open process. They are on line today. AGNES MORAN, Parent, Ketchikan, said she has two children. She doesn't have access to the CS, but she supports the original SB 126. It allows rural schools access to experienced educators and administrators who have made a commitment to remain in Alaska. The number of participants in the retiree/rehire program may appear small but their impact on a community is large. Many are certified in various special education fields. The reading specialist at her children's school is one such individual. The specialist has close ties to the Native community and is a positive role model. At the charter school, 86 percent of the Alaska Native students scored proficient in language arts and math. That is higher than any other group in the school. Access to educators with experience in special needs is important. Her child spent six years in the special needs program. These teachers are resources for the children and other educators. Her son's first-grade teacher was fresh out of college and overwhelmed by the needs of her diverse group of students. Fortunately she had access to experienced educators to help guide her. Schools with rehired retirees have current openings. Instead of viewing them as barriers, they should be seen as bridges. Students, families, and communities benefit from the experience of these rehires. She urged the passage of SB 126. 9:51:14 AM HANNAH RAMISKEY, Ketchikan, said she is a grandparent of a child who has struggled and gets a lot of additional help. Ms. Ramiskey has sent several letters, and she has explained why there was a custodian on the Ketchikan rehire list. That person has left. She is concerned about the amendments. A charter school without an experienced principal will need to do without one for six months or hire someone who is not qualified. "Do you do without a reading specialist in Ketchikan because there aren't any that are certified in the curriculum that you have?" She spoke of the impact of waiting six months. She questioned the public process in the creation of the CS. She has been at every hearing and didn't know when the bill was changed. During House hearings she was impressed when a member asked a union representative if it would be OK if a retiree from another state could double dip. The union man said "Well yea, that's OK." So a committed person in Alaska won't be able to do what someone from any other state can do. Ketchikan has 15 feet of rain in some years, so new people often don't last. The lack of a Nordstrom store seems to be an issue for wives. She asked the committee to look at the impact on children. "Do we just take what we can get even if it's not right?" 9:54:54 AM GINGER BLAISDELL, Director, Administrative Services, Department of Revenue, said she looked at the CS last night. She noted that Chair Menard kept saying "all employers" instead of "similar", and she presumed the chair was referring to all employers who participate in PERS. CHAIR MENARD said yes. MS. BLAISDELL clarified that the bill will not impact the private sector. Changing the 30-day to 180-day provision will eliminate individuals from being considered for nearly the life of the program since it's now slated to sunset in one year. It eliminates the younger spectrum of the retirement community. Changing from five applicants to three is fine. Typically, if a retiree is rehired, he or she is the only qualified applicant. The one-year extension doesn't address the issue of unqualified or unwilling applicants for hard-to-fill positions. "Eliminating the chief economist leaves the state with a critical vacancy in a position that would be guiding the state in its critical global economic strategy. Eliminating the oil and gas positions puts the state at risk for high turnover in critical positions in oil and gas development." This bill doesn't accomplish what was intended: providing a hiring pool to keep Alaskans employed in Alaskan jobs regardless of their retirement status and to provide options for hiring critical positions for the departments of revenue and natural resources. 9:57:53 AM SENATOR KOOKESH said he doesn't like the change of 30 days to 180 days and won't support the bill with that in it. SENATOR MEYER asked about a compromise of 3 months. SENATOR KOOKESH said he doesn't like 180 days. He could probably support 90 days. "I just don't want to have to wait that long, because I come from a rural district too and sometimes you need somebody right away." The time constraint doesn't work. The intent of the bill was to have a pool [of applicants]. "We might as well just not pass this bill if we're going to put those kinds of restrictions on." SENATOR MEYER said he agrees. Sometimes a person gets a little rusty after six months, "and if you indeed need to have this person, you want him [or her] to come in and hit the ground running." Perhaps 90 days would be better. 10:00:33 AM SENATOR KOOKESH said he can live with that, but he wouldn't be happy about it. SENATOR PASKVAN asked about a teacher retiring out of one TRS school district, and if that means he or she couldn't go to a rural district to teach. He asked if Senator Kookesh is worried about that situation. SENATOR KOOKESH said yes, there has to be a pool of applicants. Often teachers in rural Alaska have to leave midyear. A teacher in Angoon got cancer, and her teacher husband had to leave with her for seven months. If a school has to wait for six months to hire somebody, "you're teaching the kids in that school with substitute teachers who have never gone to college." CHAIR MENARD said that is a reasonable concern. SENATOR MEYER moved to adopt conceptual Amendment 1 to change the waiting period from 120 days to 90 days. SENATOR PASKVAN objected in order to discuss the amendment. His concern is a retiree staying in the same job. That is different from the situation that Senator Kookesh is talking about. He absolutely agrees in accommodating those situations and making sure there is a big enough pool. But someone retiring and keeping the job is the concern. 10:03:53 AM SENATOR KOOKESH said 90 days will give a gap for looking for a different employee. "The school is going to have to find somebody, and they could find somebody who's not a retiree." SENATOR FRENCH said that is a good point with regard to school districts. The school district issue is in Section 1, and Section 4 relates to PERS employees. "If we want to deal with teachers, Section 1 should be 90 days and we could leave the other 180-day number alone, and still fix the concern you have." SENATOR KOOKESH said he is concerned about teachers and hasn't thought about other employees. SENATOR MEYER said he is not sure if a similar situation could happen with a PERS employee. SENATOR KOOKESH asked who wrote the CS. CHAIR MENARD said she did and has no problem with changing the number of days for both. She is trying get something better than the original bill because there has not been the attention paid to this that there should be. Some people get hired the day after retiring. SENATOR KOOKESH surmised that she wants a separation, but 180 days is too much. He supports 90 days for both TRS and PERS employees. 10:06:32 AM SENATOR MEYER said there are critical positions in the courts. He doesn't know how 90 days or 120 days will impact them. SENATOR PASKVAN said he has no problem if someone retires from the Fairbanks school district and wants to teach in Angoon. "They stop teaching in May in Fairbanks and they start teaching in August/September in Angoon." His problem is a person who retires from a chair in an office on one day, and the next day he or she has the same chair. SENATOR KOOKESH said if that position is critical, no one will wait 90 days for that person. CHAIR MENARD said by putting the department on notice it will actively try to recruit. If there are stellar employees, it is human nature to slide them into the same slot when they retire. It is tempting to keep those good people. But it is arrogant for any of us to think we can't be replaced. SENATOR PASKVAN said he supports a 90-day change, especially with the repeal set for July of 2010. Next year will be the opportunity to look at how many people have participated and how many stayed in the same job or moved to another district. 10:09:34 AM SENATOR PASKVAN removed his objection, there being no further objections, conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted. SENATOR MEYER moved to report the CS to SB 126, labeled 26- GS1035\S, from committee, as amended, with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSSB 126(STA) moved out of committee.