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28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Committee Minutes


HOUSE JUDICIARY
Feb 26, 2014

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	              HJR  1-CONST. AM: EDUCATION FUNDING                                                                           
1:15:10 PM

CHAIR KELLER announced that the first order of business would be
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1, Proposing amendments to the
Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to state aid for
education.

1:15:24 PM

CHAIR KELLER, noting that there have been over 24 hours of
testimony and over 135 testifiers on the language in HJR 1,
announced that HJR 1 is before the committee for consideration
and vote.

1:16:46 PM

REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG advised he opposes HJR 1 as he believes
it overturns a fundamental provision in the Alaska State
Constitution, which prohibits the use of direct aid for private
education, and urged that the constitution not be amended in
this manner. He noted that a majority of people he has heard
testify and who have contacted him are in opposition to this
change.

1:19:14 PM

REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX questioned how one reconciles the Blaine
Amendment with performance scholarships that can be used at
private and religious colleges. She recalled that money is
granted under capitol grants for private and sometimes religious
pre-school transportation, as is the case in Fairbanks and in
Kodiak parochial schools.

REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated he has performed extensive
research on this provision since the 1980s and found that tax
credits for contributions to public and private colleges in
Alaska is not considered direct aid as the taxpayer would make
the contribution. In regard to scholarships, he noted, it is
similar in that it is not a direct aid to the university as it
was to benefit each student receiving a scholarship. With
respect to the transportation issue, he advised that he could
not answer as he is not an expert on school funding. The
question in this matter is should the [Blaine Amendment] be
repealed in order to provide direct aid [to private schools]
which is in opposition to the basic principle of separation [of
church and state], he opined.

1:23:59 PM

REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT moved to report HJR 1 out of committee
with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal
note. There being no objection, HJR 1 was reported from the
House Judiciary Standing Committee.