Legislative Update: 3/27/12

Sen. Bettye Davis with APEA’s Corinne McVee, Josephine Ed­wards-Vollertsen & Jen­nifer Palinko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Union Confidentiality: Jeopardized

The most important role of a union is bargaining fair contracts on behalf of its members. The second biggest responsibility is representing members in disciplinary cases. For centuries, confidentiality between an advocate and client has been recognized as critical to a fair system.

Until now.

Two years ago, a state employee was terminated. The union member went through the administrative process with his union to pursue his claim. Once that ended without resolution, the member filed a lawsuit. Then an outrageous thing happened: the state of Alaska subpoenaed all the union records including emails and notes from meetings between the individual and his union. The State maintains the member and his union have no right to confidentiality.

Attorney Doug Mertz just finished arguing the case before the Supreme Court, but it has become apparent that legislation is needed to require what should be obvious: communications between a member and his/her union are confidential.

Last week, hearings were held in both the House and Senate on HB 327 and its companion SB 224. APEA’s Pete Ford gave impressive testimony in front of (H) Labor & Commerce, where committee member Lindsey Holmes called the state’s actions unconscionable. HB 327 remains in committee but Sen. Dennis Egan moved his bill out of (S) Labor & Commerce after hearing testimony from the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, who insist that this must be dealt with through collective bargaining.

SB 224 will be heard in (S) Judiciary this week.

Schedule of Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, March 27
(H) Finance               School Board Presidents (Invitation only testimony)
(S) Finance                HB 284 Operating Budget Subcommittee Reports
Highlights: funding for union contracts; $610 million towards unfunded liability, the minimum needed; UA Board of Regents’ priorities added; and flat education funding.

(S) State Affairs        HB 204 State Procurement Code
(H) Finance               School Board Presidents (testimony by invitation only)
(S) Labor                    SB 211 PERS Credit for Military Service
(H) Fiscal Policy Special Committee – state Revenues and Expenditures
Presentations by Dept. of Administration, the Dept of Revenue, and the Division of Legislative Finance.

Wednesday, March 28
(H) Education                        HB 320 Education Loan Repayment Program
Rep. Les Gara’s bill lowers the interest rages for student loans.
(S) Education                        Presentation: School Finance Study Proposal

Center for Alaska Education Policy Research ISER UAA
(S) Finance                  HB 284 Operating Budget Public Testimony

Juneau                                               8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Kenai, Matsu, etc                             10:00 – 10:45
Anchorage                                        1:00-2:15 p.m.
Fairbanks                                         2:30-3:30
Ketchikan, Petersburg                    3:30-4:15
Barrow,  Delta,  Offnets                  4:30-5:15 p.m.

Public testimony will be limited to two minutes and could be closed 15 minutes early if there are no further testifiers signed up.  If there is an overflow, public testimony will be taken again Thursday morning.

(H) Finance               Discussion with the Chair of the State Board of Education
Presentation: Alaska Policy Forum
(H) Labor                    HB 275 Retiree Benefits: Colorectal/Drug Benefits

Thursday, March 29
(S) Finance                HB 284 Operating Budget and HB 285 Mental Health Budget
Public Testimony Overflow
SB 192 Oil and Gas Production Tax Rates
(H) Finance                Education Overview:
Dept of Education and other invited presenters
(S) Labor                    SB 211 PERS Credit for Military Service

Friday, March 30
(H) Education                        HB 352 Resource Development Curriculum
(H) Finance                HB 313 Student Count Estimates
Sponsored by Rep. Eric Feige, HB 313 is supposed to help smooth student counts from year to year to help funding predictability.
(S) Finance                HB 284 and HB 285 Operating Budget & Mental Health Budget
SB 192 Oil and Gas Production Tax

(S) Finance               SB 100 PERS Termination Costs
SB 121 Pension Choice Defined Ben/Defined Contributions

CSSB 121 creates Tier IV TRS and Tier V PERS designed to be cost neutral in order to get something dependable passed this year.  But that means a higher employee contribution; the retiree picks up more of the health care costs; and there will be a five-year look back for health costs adjustments.  New employees will still have the option to enroll in defined contributions.

(S) Judiciary             SB 224 Evidence Rules: Union/Employee Privilege
(H) Labor                   Confirmation Hearings: Alaska Labor Relations Agency

Bills of Interest
SB 137 Suicide Prevention Training for Certain School Personnel
Sponsored by Senator Bettye Davis – passed out of (H) Education now in (H) Finance
SB 195 Establishing a Maximum Caseload for Probation and Parole Officers
Sponsored by Senator Lesil McGuire, Hollis French and Johnny Ellis.  Assigned to Senate Judiciary
HB 368 Tax Contributions/Religious Organizations
Sponsored by (H) Community and Regional Affairs Committee
SB 8 Student Questionnaires passed out of (H) Education and is now in (H) HSS

 

 

 

 
 

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