Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

04/02/2009 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 157 Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSSB 126(STA) Out of Committee
        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                                                               
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.                                                                                

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