April 1, 2013 Alaska Legislative Update

Members of the conference committee on the operating budget have now been appointed from both the house and senate, so the 24-hour rule is now in effect.  Conference committee members for both HB 65 and HB 66 are: Reps. Austerman, (chair), Stoltze, and Gara, and Sens. Kelly (chair), Meyer, and Hoffman. 

Rep. Austerman stated in an email update on Monday that, “The first meeting of the Conference Committee will likely happen towards the end of this week and is strictly organizational in nature.  Members will adopt all the identical budget items and will sign a letter requesting “limited powers of free conference” on the appropriations and language that are not identical in each body’s budget.  Once those powers have been granted, the Conference Committee can adopt any amount between zero and the higher of the House or Senate version of each item subject to conference.  Nearly 200 items will be negotiated by the committee.  Usually the last action of the Conference Committee is to adopt the fiscal notes for legislation expected to pass this session. The [House] Finance Committee had a capital budget overview on March 20.  We have also been reviewing the agencies’ supplemental budget requests for the current fiscal year.  The approved requests will ultimately be incorporated into the capital budget bill. The Finance Committee has also held several hearings on some major pieces of legislation, including SB 23, the Interior liquefied natural gas project, and HB 4, instate gasline development.  The Committee will be taking up SB 21, the oil tax bill, next week as soon as the House Resources Committee moves the bill out.

Also, apparently the House of Representatives all should have gone to bed earlier on Monday night.  Rep. Scott Kawasaki stuck his tongue out on the floor (http://i.imgur.com/ZvShsoc.gif) while Rep. Mike Chenault was speaking on HB 4, his gasline bill, and it set off a chain of events now known as “tongue gate.”  It led to the House Majority interior Republicans holding a press conference Tuesday that has been dubbed the “tongue presser.”  You can view the “tongue presser” here: http://www.360north.org/gavel-archives/?event_id=2147483647_2013041040 , if you so desire, although it appeared to me to be an unnecessary escalation of the situation.  It gave reporters a wide-open opportunity to ask questions about the fart jokes and butt jokes that were also made on the House Floor on Monday night (well, what else do you expect with a gas bill, and what is the world coming to if you can’t make a fart joke?  I recall Sen. Robin Taylor making “gas”/fart jokes in a committee hearing on the record some 20 years ago).  The most complete description of what transpired Monday evening is probably the ADN story on the issue: http://www.adn.com/2013/04/02/2849543/house-trips-over-bad-jokes-and.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=twitter .

Included in Tuesday’s Alaska Education Update are reports on:

From Monday: Senate Finance Hearing public testimony on SB 18, capital budget that occurred between 1:30 – 5:50 p.m.  Due to time constraints, the hearing from 6:15 p.m. on wasn’t covered. 

From Tuesday:

·         House Minority Press Conference – no education discussion

·         Senate Floor Session

o   SB 17 – Extend SESA was not voted on and was returned to the Senate Rules Committee, presumably because the house passed HB 87, and that will now be the bill the senate will consider. HB 87 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday morning. 

·         House Floor Session

o   HB 87 – Extend SESA: passed house, transmitted to the senate, scheduled to be heard Wednesday, April 3 in the Senate Education Committee

o   HB 138 – Layoff Notices for Teachers: passed house, transmitted to the senate

·         Senate Finance Committee

o   SB 47 – Stipend for Statewide Boarding School: moved from committee with a committee substitute.  The only change is changing the effective date to July 1, 2013, so that there won’t be any supplemental appropriation for FY13.  They did not add language allowing boarding stipends for grade school students, not sure why, since it was the only amendment discussed at Monday’s hearing.  If I find out why, I’ll let you know. 

o   SB 57 – Literacy, Pupil Transportation, Teacher Notices: moved from committee with a committee substitute.  The only change was limiting the 2.5 percent CPI increase for pupil transportation to FY14, FY15, and FY16. 

The Senate Finance Committee did not take up SB 18 – Capital Budget on Tuesday evening; they are now scheduled to take it up Wednesday morning.  Sen. Meyer announced Tuesday evening that amendments are still being incorporated in to SB 18, and that the committee can’t accept any more amendments, or it will never be ready (he made it sound like people wanted to add a lot of stuff to the bill).

On the Agenda for Wednesday:

·         Senate Education Committee, 8:00 a.m., Rm. 105, Stewart Bldg.

o   SB 15 – Pre-K School Programs/Plans, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=SB%20%2015&session=28

o   Confirmation Hearing: James Fields, DEED State Board

o   HB 87 – Extend SESA, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20%2087&session=28

o   SB 82 – Broadband Discounts for Schools, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=SB%20%2082&session=28

·         House Education Committee, 8:00 a.m., Rm. 106, Capitol Bldg.

o   HB 190 – Credit for Secondary School Courses, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20190&session=28

o   HB 151 – School Grading Systems, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20151&session=28

o   Bills previously heard/scheduled

·         Senate Finance Committee, 9:00 a.m., Rm. 532, Capitol Bldg.

o   SB 18 – Capital Budget, http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=SB%20%2018&session=28

·         House Calendar, 10:30 a.m., House Chamber, Capitol Bldg.

o   HB 162 – Teacher Tenure (3rd on bill on calendar), http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20162&session=28

·         House Labor & Commerce Committee, 3:15 p.m., Rm. 124, Capitol Bldg.

o   HB 150 – Technical/Vocational Education Program (2nd item on agenda, not covered by AKEDUPDATE), http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20150&session=28