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UEA Report on the 2014 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK SIX:  

2014 LEGISLATURE WEEK SIX SUMMARY: March 3-7

In a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh discussed the increased volume of education-related bills moving through the Utah Legislature this year. This week alone, nearly 60 of the 130 bills being tracked by UEA moved through the legislative process.

Highlights from the week include the defeat, at least temporarily, of two bills aimed at changing the selection process for members of the State Board of Education. HB223, which would have kept the elections non-partisan, passed the House but failed on a split vote in the Senate Education Committee. HB228 making the elections partisan failed in the House.

Public Education Budget: The Executive Appropriations Committee did not meet this week. Of the 10 meetings scheduled since Feb. 19, nine have been cancelled and the single meeting held lasted less than a minute. Sources close to budget negotiations have indicated a major sticking point is funding for Speaker Becky Lockhart’s $200 million education technology initiative (HB131).

The UEA continues to encourage anyone interested in public education to contact their legislators about the budget.

Educator Day on the Hill: About thirty teachers from Jordan, Granite, Tooele, Salt Lake City, Weber, Davis and Sevier School Districts attended the final 2014 Educator Day on the Hill. In all, more than 400 teachers participated in the weekly events. The teachers have a tremendous impact in providing information to legislators, according to the UEA Legislative Team.

Bills on the move this week
(For the current status on all bills of interest see the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet)

  • HB73: Living Wage Amendments was sent by the House Health and Human Services Committee to Interim study. The legislation, which had a $22.4 million fiscal note for the next two years, would provide that the minimum wage for a private or public employee within the state is $10.25 per hour; and the cash wage obligation for a tipped employee within the state is $3.13 per hour.
  • HB81 (1st Sub.): Parental Review of Statewide Summative Test Questions passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill expands a committee (from 15-30 members) of parents that reviews computer adaptive test questions.
  • HB84 (1st Sub.): School District Amendments creates the same rule for cities or interlocal jurisdictions to create school districts as for creating new cities. It essentially prevents cities from “cherry picking” a favorable tax base. The bill passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 5-2 and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB96: Utah School Readiness Initiative would provide high-quality, results-based early childhood education for at-risk children through a school district, charter school, private provider or home-based option. The bill has a fiscal note of $5 million from the General Fund. It passed the Senate Education Committee 4-2 and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB109 (2nd Sub.): Public Education Capital Funding Equalization places $25 million into a capital outlay growth account and then provides for a distribution method. It passed out of the House and onto the Senate 44-28.
  • HB111: School Building Costs Reporting will require districts to give a report whenever there is a new building or significant remodel done in a school district. It will require that anything done in the past 10 years also be included in the report. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB116 (1st Sub.): School Construction Modifications requires the State Board of Education to adopt school construction guidelines and requires school districts to take these guidelines into consideration when planning school constriction. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB150 (1st Sub.): Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Amendments expands the activities of the STEM Action Center. It asks for $10 million for STEM endorsements, $5 million for coding classes, $3.5 million for expanded classes in junior high and $5 million for grade six expansion. The bill passed the House unanimously.
  • HB153: Study on Contribution and Credit for Education Funding creates a study by the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee on a way for those paying the Alternative Minimum Tax to make a charitable contribution to the Utah Education Fund instead. The bill passed full House the Senate Education Committee, both with unanimous votes.
  • HB169: Student Privacy Act addresses what student information is allowed to be collected, how it is stored and what can be released. The House Education Committee voted to send the bill for Interim study.
  • HB213 (1st Sub.): Criminal Penalties for Sexual Contact with a Student clarifies what a person of trust is, clarifies what constitutes sexual activity, and sets grounds for loss of license. The bill passed the House unanimously.
  • HB215 (1st Sub.): Public School Employee Background Checks passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously. The bill requires the Department of Public Safety to notify school districts when a new entry is made against an employee. The UEA supports this bill.
  • HB221: School Community Council Revisions passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill changes the deadline for an election for the parent or guardian members of a school community council; requires school districts to record the amount of School Land Trust Program funds distributed to each school; and requires additional training for councils.
  • HB223: School Board Election Provisions replaces the current Nominating Committee process for selecting state school board members with a direct, nonpartisan election. A representative from Utah PTA spoke in support of the bill. The bill passed the House 57-15, but failed in the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-3. The UEA supported this bill.
  • HB228 (1st Sub.): Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments would replace the current Nominating Committee process for selecting state school board members with a direct, partisan election. The bill passed the House Education Committee 8-5, but failed in the House 33-41. The UEA opposes this bill.
  • HB236: State School Board Nomination Revisions prohibits a lobbyist from sitting on the State School Board Nominating Committee and that an incumbent must be one of the three people passed on to the Governor by the Nominating Committee. The bill passed the House 53-20, but failed 2-4 in the Senate Education Committee.
  • HB239: Front Line Teachers Data Program would require the State Office of Education to report to the Education Interim Committee data on how much is being spent on compensation on teachers compared to others. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB241: School Record Amendments adjusts suicide reporting to comply with FERPA. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee favorably.
  • HB249 (1st Sub.): Grants for Digital Textbooks diverts $1 million from the Education Fund to provide grants to facilitate the adoption of digital textbooks. The bill failed in the Senate Education Committee 2-3.
  • HB257: Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature. The bill modifies the offense of aggravated sexual abuse of a child by providing a definition of the term “position of special trust,” which includes educators.
  • HB286 (2nd Sub.): Child Sexual Abuse Prevention would provide for sexual abuse prevention training and instruction in schools. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate. The UEA supports this bill.
  • HB292: School Grading Calculation of High School Graduation Rate modifies the calculation of the graduation rate, for the purpose of school grading, for those students whose IEP includes a plan to complete high school graduation requirements in more than four years. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB329: Programs for Youth Protection is a cleanup bill from last session to provide funding for middle schools and high schools to implement a suicide prevention program of their choice. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB337: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill replaces the Department of Human Resource Management with the State Board of Education as the administrator of the Teacher Salary Supplement Program.
  • HB342 (2nd Sub.): Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education modifies the powers and duties of the State Board of Education related to the development and adoption of core curriculum standards. The bill passed the House Education Committee 7-5 the House 41-30. The UEA, the superintendents association, the school boards association and the state school board all oppose this bill.
  • HB397: Family and Student Privacy Amendments would expand items that cannot be surveyed without parental permission and prohibits the use of incentives to answer surveys. The bill passed the House Education Committee 8-3.
  • HB399: Truancy Amendments exempts students age 16 or older with GPA’s of 3.5 or above from going to court for habitual truancy. The bill passed the House Education Committee 11-2 and the full House 47-27.
  • HB403: Amendments Related to Education Funding freezes the basic property tax rate and puts in a fixed amount for the federal income tax deduction instead of a percentage. This would mean additional money for public education. The bill failed in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee 4-6.
  • HB409: Statewide Education Coordinating Committee would require the Speaker of the House or designee, Senate President or designee, Governor, State Superintendent, State Board of Education Chair, Chair of Board of Regents, President of UCAT and the Governor’s Education Secretary to meet semi-annually. The bill passed the House Education Committee favorably.
  • HB417: English Language Arts Instructional Tool would direct $1 million from the Education Fund to provide an interactive, web-based technology tool for English language arts instructional tool for students in grades 4-12. The bill passed the House Education Committee favorably.
  • HB419: Charter School Revisions makes changes regarding how charter schools can be changed, established or expanded and creates an “opt in” for their participation in the Utah Retirement System. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
  • HB423: School District Post Employment Insurance Benefit Amendments establishes requirements for districts to fund their postemployment insurance benefits. The bill passed the House Education Committee favorably.
  • HB425: State Educational Sovereignty Act requires that any new federal money over $50,000 must be approved by the State Board of Education. The bill passed the House Education Committee favorably.
  • HJR21: Joint Resolution on the Sovereign Character of PILT--Payment in Lieu of Taxes strongly urges the United States Congress to and permanently fund Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and transfer to the state of Utah the federally controlled public lands within the state. The resolution passed the House 57-11.
  • SB34 (1st Sub.): Governance of the Utah Education and Workforce Alliance creates a new organization and governing board to manage data between state government offices. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee with one dissenting vote. The UEA opposes this legislation.
  • SB37: Statewide Online Education Program Revisions would require that public schools provide information about online education options. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and House Education Committee on a vote of 7-5. It now goes to the full House.
  • SB39: Home School Amendments eliminates instructional requirements for students who attend a home school and provides that a school may assess a home school student upon reentering the public school system to determine the student’s appropriate placement. The bill passed the Senate 22-5 and the House Education Committee on a vote of 9-4.
  • SB42: Early Childhood Education passed the Senate by a vote of 20-6. The bill establishes the High Quality Preschool Pilot Program to fund preschool programs for students of intergenerational poverty.
  • SB43: Intergenerational Poverty Interventions in Public Schools provides for grants for after-school interventions to help for students in poverty. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB49: Parental Permission to Release Student Information allows an education entity to release information only as provided within the legislation rather than relying solely on the federal FERPA for how information is collected and released. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee with one ‘no’ vote.
  • SB54 (2nd Sub.): Elections Amendments would provide an alternative path to the ballot based on signatures as well as a 65% threshold for candidates to reach to get out of convention and not have a primary. The bill passed the House Government Operations Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.
  • SB56 (1st Sub.): Risk Management Amendments says that a school is not held liable when the building is used for a civic activity. The bill passed the House Education Committee favorably.
  • SB58: Carbon Monoxide Detection Amendments requires carbon monoxide detectors be placed in certain K-12 school buildings. The fiscal note is $905,000. The bill passed the House Education Committee with two dissenting votes.
  • SB80 (1st Sub.): Statewide Online Education Amendments would define what an IEP is for a special education online student. It also defines what dual enrollment is for a special education student who takes online courses and courses from the local school district or charter school. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 4-1.
  • SB93 (1st Sub): Internal Audit Amendments establishes the Governor’s Office of Internal Audit Services and enacts provisions related to the auditing of state agencies and school districts. It passed the Senate by a vote of 23-2.
  • SB101: Public Education Human Resource Management Amendments extends the deadline for full implementation of the new evaluation system by one year. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB111 (3rd Sub.): Education Funding Equalization would generate new funding for education by freezing property tax rates. Rather than using the money for equalization as was intended, an amendment made in the Senate takes all the new revenue generated by SB111 (and intended for use by School Community Councils) and directs it instead for purchasing devices through HB131 (2nd Sub.): Public Education Modernization Act. The Senate vote was 16-12 to pass the bill with the amendment.
  • SB113: Public Meetings Amendments ensures that official meetings held at the Capitol Complex by different groups that include legislators are published on the main Capitol schedule. The bill passed both the full Senate and the House Political Subdivisions Committee unanimously.
  • SB131 (1st Sub.): Student Leadership Grant continues the Student Leadership Grant program started last year. The bill passed the Senate 24-2 and received a favorable recommendation from the House Education Committee.
  • SB150: Education Taskforce Reauthorization would reauthorize the Education Taskforce for an additional year. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.
  • SB181: Online Course Reporting Requirements requires that when a course is taken online it is reported as such. The bill passed the Senate 27-1.
  • SB183: Proficiency Levels in Statewide Assessments attempts to ensure that a report on proficiency levels is accurate. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB209: School Grading Revisions modifies procedures and standards for assigning a letter grade to a school based on the proficiency, learning gains, or college and career readiness of the school’s students. It passed the Senate 19-8 and now goes to the House.
  • SB215: Public School Comprehensive Emergency Response Plan Amendments requires schools to include students that are off campus, like seminary, in their emergency plans. The bill passed the full Senate and the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB218: Charter School Amendments would create a new status for a charter school as “High Priority” for schools built in high growth areas. The bill passed the House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee unanimously.
  • SB240: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments passed the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate unanimously. The bill changes requirements relating to the application deadline for the Carson Smith Scholarship Program.
  • SB257: Parent Review of Instructional Materials and Curriculum would require a parent panel to hear complaints about the Utah Core Curriculum and have the State Board of Education publish a report of these complaints on its website. The bill passed out of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously with a favorable recommendation.

March 3, 2014

House Education Committee (Reported by Jay Blain and Sara Jones): HB228 (1st Sub): Utah State Board of Education Election Amendments was heard for the second time in committee. It was previously defeated in an earlier committee hearing. This bill eliminates the current nominating process for state school board elections and makes the elections partisan. After limited public debate, the bill passed the committee 8-5. It now goes to the full House. The UEA opposes this bill.

SB150: Education Taskforce Reauthorization would reauthorize the Education Taskforce for an additional year. The bill passed unanimously and was placed on the consent calendar.

Rep. Dana Layton presented HB397: Family and Student Privacy Amendments. She said the bill would expand items that cannot be surveyed without parental permission and prohibits the use of incentives to answer surveys. The bill was amended to strike language prohibiting gathering data on socioeconomic status. The bill passed 8-3.

HB342 (1st Sub.): Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education was also presented by Rep. Layton. “My concern is with Utah having control over its own education system,” she said. The bill creates a standards review committee to review each content area and provide input and recommendations for revisions and formalizes parental involvement in reviewing standards. After extensive discussion and public comment the bill passed 7-5. The UEA opposes this bill as an overreach of the Legislature’s constitutional authority.

SB58: Carbon Monoxide Detection Amendments was presented by Sen. Jim Dabakis. The bill requires carbon monoxide detectors be placed in certain K-12 school buildings. The fiscal note is $905,000. The bill passed with two dissenting votes.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Sara Jones): SB240: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments changes requirements for the scholarship application deadline. The bill passed unanimously with no questions from the committee. The bill was placed on consent calendar.

SB34 (1st Sub.): Governance of the Utah Education and Workforce Alliance was previously heard in committee without taking action. Sen. Howard Stephenson said he had been working with stakeholders to improve the legislation and presented a substitute bill. He said the goal of the legislation is to ensure protection of data while providing the availability of data to better inform users. The bill also allows entities to withhold data if they are not comfortable with the security of the data. Several concerns were raised including the structure of the governing board, granting the board rule-making authority and funding issues. Sen. Stephenson acknowledged the bill is “a work in progress and probably not the final form based on comments today.” The bill passed with one dissenting vote. The UEA opposes this legislation.

SB183: Proficiency Levels in Statewide Assessments was also presented by Sen. Stephenson. Once amended, the UEA did not speak in opposition to the bill. He said there were concerns with cut scores and proficiency levels in end-of-year tests. Compared with NAEP proficiency levels in fourth and eighth grade, Utah proficiency levels are much higher. The bill attempts to ensure that a report on proficiency levels is accurate. “With this bill we will ensure that in Utah we have the cut scores set based on a rational basis rather than on something that perhaps makes us look better than we are.” Sen. Aaron Osmond raised a concern about the current Board rule which states that students opting out of standardized testing are rated as non-proficient. He said “It feels like we are biasing the opt out student in all of our reporting because we are reporting them as non-proficient…[and it] obviously skews our state results.” He said the current Board rule creates a lot of concerns among teachers. The bill passed unanimously.

SB49: Parental Permission to Release Student Information was presented by Sen. John Valentine. He said “we have to do some firewalling [with data]…it’s where that firewall is” that is at issue. The provisions of the bill allow an education entity to release information only as provided within the legislation rather than relying solely on the federal FERPA for how information is collected and released. Sen. Pat Jones questioned whether the bill would limit the ability to obtain information on risk factors with regard to substance abuse or other health issues. Sen. Valentine acknowledged that health agencies and law enforcement access needs to be more clearly identified in the bill and this is still in negotiation and the bill may or may not be amended on the floor. The bill passed with one ‘no’ vote.

House Government Operations Committee (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): SB54 (2nd Sub.): Elections Amendments was introduced by Sen. Curt Bramble. He explained differences between the second substitute and the Count My Vote proposal. He said the Count My Vote group drop their initiative if this bill passed because it alleviates many of their concerns. Some of the changes include an alternative path to the ballot based on signatures as well as the 65% threshold for candidates to reach to get out of convention and not have a primary. He stated that this bill is not perfect and that no one gets all of what they want. The bill passed out of the committee unanimously.

House Health and Human Services Committee (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): The House Health and Human Services Standing Committee referred HB73: Living Wage Amendments to Interim Study for review. The legislation, which had a $2.3 million fiscal note for Fiscal Year 14 and a $20.1 million fiscal note for Fiscal Years 15 and 16, would provide that the minimum wage for a private or public employee within the state is $10.25 per hour; and the cash wage obligation for a tipped employee within the state is $3.13 per hour.

Bill sponsor Rep. Lynn Hemingway said “a living wage is one that pulls people out of poverty.” He testified that he wanted to see those working full time be able to live with dignity and achieve the American dream. Hemingway noted that $10 million of the fiscal note would be spent on higher education, $10 million on public education.

Representatives from the business community argued that raising the minimum wage would result in job losses for many. One said rising labor costs will force businesses to automate, replacing workers with machines.

Rep. Tim Cosgrove said the minimum wage proposed covers only basic necessities and made a motion to move it out of the committee with a favorable recommendation. “I feel that the American dream has gone. There was a time my father could work and my mom could stay home and take care of the kids,” Cosgrove said. But, he argued that is no longer possible. Rep. Brian Greene made a substitute motion that the bill be sent to Interim study. His motion passed.

House Floor (Reported by Jay Blain): HB153: Study on Contribution and Credit for Education Funding directs the Interim Revenue and Taxation Committee to study a process that helps those who pay the Alternative Minimum Tax direct some or all of that tax back into Utah to fund education. The bill passed out of the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): SB215: Public School Comprehensive Emergency Response Plan Amendments requires a public school's comprehensive emergency response plan to include procedures to provide information, to the extent practicable, to certain students who are off campus at the time of a school violence emergency; and makes technical changes. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB37: Statewide Online Education Program Revisions requires that any registration materials a district hand out have in them information about online education options. The bill passed unanimously.

SB39 (1st Sub.): Home School Amendments modifies procedures for excusing from public school attendance a school-age minor who attends a home school; eliminates instructional requirements for a school-age minor who attends a home school; and specifies procedures for the placement of a home school student who transfers to a school. The bill passed the Senate 22-5 on a party-line vote.

SB131 (1 Sub.): Student Leadership Grant requires a school that receives a grant to set school-wide goals for the student leadership skills development program. The bill passed 24-2.


March 4, 2014

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Sara Jones): The Senate Education Committee heard bills that have already passed the House. HB96: Utah School Readiness Initiative was presented by Rep. Greg Hughes. The bill would provide high-quality, results-based early childhood education for at-risk children through a school district, charter school, private provider or home-based option. The goal is to help prepare at-risk children for school to avoid potential special education costs thus realizing a cost avoidance because special education services are not required. The bill has a fiscal note of $5 million from the General Fund. There was extensive committee discussion and public comment. The bill passed 4-2 and now goes to the full Senate.

HB292: School Grading Calculation of High School Graduation Rate modifies the calculation of the graduation rate for the purpose of school grading for those students whose IEP includes a plan to complete high school graduation requirements in more than four years. The bill passed unanimously.

HB215 (1st Sub.): Public School Employee Background Checks passed the committee unanimously. The bill requires the Department of Public Safety to notify school districts when a new entry is made against an employee. The UEA supports this bill.

HB249 (1st Sub.): Grants for Digital Textbooks diverts $1 million from the Education Fund to provide grants to facilitate the adoption of digital textbooks. The bill failed in committee 2-3.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): Sen. Howard Stephenson reviewed the history of the creation and the process of the parent review panel that reviews the SAGE test questions. SB257: Parent Review of Instructional Materials and Curriculum would have the same parent panel hear complaints about the Utah Core Curriculum and have the State Board of Education publish a report of these complaints on its website. This would also include actions taken by school districts and the State Board. The bill passed out of committee unanimously with a favorable recommendation.

HB84 (1st Sub.): School District Amendments creates the same rule for cities or interlocal jurisdictions to create school districts as for creating new cities. It essentially prevents cities from “cherry picking” a favorable tax base. A new school district cannot be created by a city if the revenues for the new district exceed the current district by 5 percent. Two other methods for creating new school districts still exist: citizen initiative or school board action.

Several representatives from South Jordan City spoke against the legislation. A representative from the Salt Lake County Council, a parent and a representative from Granite School District spoke in favor. Sen. Howard Stephenson spoke against the bill saying that if it passes a district will never be able to split again. The bill passed on a vote of 5-2.

Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): HB81 (1st Sub.): Parental Review of Statewide Summative Test Questions passed out of the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Standing Committee with a favorable recommendation. House sponsor Rep. Michael Kennedy said the bill was substituted because the first bill was a problem for the Utah State Office of Education. The bill expands a committee (from 15-30 members) of parents that reviews computer adaptive test questions. The chair of the State Board of Education, speaker of the House of Representatives and president of the Senate each appoint approximately one-third of the committee members.

Sen. Pat Jones asked about qualifications to serve on the committee. Rep. Kennedy responded that members must only be parents or guardians. The majority of questions do exactly what they are supposed to do, he said. Senate Sponsor Todd Weiler said this past year only 10 questions were flagged for bias. He added that no questions were removed by parents, but 40-60 percent of questions flagged were flagged by one parent. “If we had more parents, we could have more eyes on each question,” Sen. Weiler said.

State Supt. Martell Menlove said they are working to provide more minority representation on the committee. He said they worked to ensure rural and urban representation last year and noted that “we need to do everything possible to maintain the integrity of the test.” Menlove said the substitute bill expands the risk associated with integrity, but there needs to be a balance between integrity and parental involvement.

SB258: Educator Licensure Amendments was held in committee. The bill provides that educators from another state who provide distance learning are not required to obtain a license issued by the State Board of Education. The sponsor, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, said what drove the need for the bill was that, in education, “we don’t stop at state boundaries like we used to.”

Supt. Menlove said educators should meet a certain bar and criteria. In Utah, background checks are extensive. Menlove said he is concerned there is a group of teachers without certification or background checks who have access to students in Utah. “This piece of legislation takes us backwards,” he said. Sen. Stevenson suggested holding the bill in committee until some of the issues can be worked out with the Utah State Office of Education.

HB221: School Community Council Revisions passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill changes the deadline for an election for the parent or guardian members of a school community council; requires school districts to record the amount of School Land Trust Program funds distributed to each school by October 1; and requires additional training for councils.

Sen. Stuart Reid said he is in favor of training, but not indoctrination, stressing it is important for parents to have input and to assess and prioritize what is most important for their children. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rich Cunningham, said this past year $40 million went to school community councils. He said this is money that gets into the schools, and parents are involved in the process. It was reported there are 10,000 school community council members statewide.

HB337: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation. The bill replaces the Department of Human Resource Management with the State Board of Education as the administrator of the Teacher Salary Supplement Program. The bill would take effect on July 1, 2014. Supt. Menlove said it is a way to consolidate and save money. The change is estimated to save $50,000.

Senate Floor (Reported by USSA and USBA Associate Director Patti Harrington): Sen. Aaron Osmond’s SB111 (3rd Sub.): Education Funding Equalization passed the Senate and will go to the House. But an amendment by Sen. Stephenson was added to the bill ahead of passage. The amendment takes all the new revenue generated by SB111 (and intended for use by School Community Councils) and uses it instead for purchasing devices through HB131 (2nd Sub.): Public Education Modernization Act. The Senate vote was 16-12 to pass the bill with the amendment. Sen. Osmond accepted the amendment but expressed his frustration/desire to have the money go to SCC’s at least by FY18. Until then, the money may go to devices. It is expected that some $12 million will be generated in the first year from SB111 and $40+ million in the second year.


March 5, 2014

House Education Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB419: Charter School Revisions allows a charter school authorizer to put into charter the things for which the school will be held accountable and the how items will be left out and be left up to the school. The decision to be a part of URS will be an opt-in instead of an opt-out choice. The bill passed out favorably.

HB409: Statewide Education Coordinating Committee would require the Speaker of the House or designee, Senate President or designee, Governor, State Superintendent, State Board of Education Chair, Chair of Board of Regents, President of UCAT and the Governor’s Education Secretary to meet semi-annually. State Supt. Martell Menlove remarked that the K-16 alliance is similar to this group. Rep. Kraig Powell compared it to a family reunion and said it is an interesting idea. The bill passed out favorably.

HB417: English Language Arts Instructional Tool would direct $1 million from the Education Fund to provide an interactive, web-based technology tool for English language arts instructional tool for students in grades 4-12. The bill passed out favorably.

HB399: Truancy Amendments exempts students age 16 or older with GPA’s of 3.5 or above from going to court for habitual truancy. All other administrative rules and remedies are still in place. Rep. Jim Nielson expressed concern that they were excusing responsibility for students. The bill passed out favorably 11-2.

SB43: Intergenerational Poverty Interventions in Public Schools provides for grants for after-school interventions to help for students in poverty. Representatives from Voices for Utah Children and the Eagle Forum spoke in favor of the bill. Supt. Menlove commented that this bill is a high priority for the State Board of Education. The bill passed unanimously.

House Floor (Reported by Jay Blain): HB223: School Board Election Provisions provides for non-partisan State School Board elections. Nobody spoke against the bill. It passed the House 57-15 and now goes to the Senate. The UEA supports this bill.

HB236: State School Board Nomination Revisions prohibits a registered lobbyist from being on the selection panel for candidates for the State Board of Education. In addition, it requires that an incumbent be passed on to the Governor as one of the three selections. Rep. Kraig Powell tried to amend the bill to remove the lobbyist prohibition but the amendment failed. The bill passed on to the Senate 53-20.

HB109 (2nd Sub.): Public Education Capital Funding Equalization places $25 million into a capital outlay growth account and then provides for a distribution method. It passed out of the House and onto the Senate 44-28.

Senate Floor (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): SB93 (1st Sub): Internal Audit Amendments passed the Senate by a vote of 23-2. The legislation establishes the Governor’s Office of Internal Audit Services and enacts provisions related to the auditing of state agencies and school districts.

SB113: Public Meetings Amendments passed the Senate by a vote of 26-0. The bill requires specified bodies, that include in their membership one or more elected state or local officials, to provide public notice of meetings the body holds on the Capitol Hill complex.


March 6, 2014

House Education Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB169: Student Privacy Act addresses what student information is allowed to be collected, how it is stored and what can be released. State Supt. Martell Menlove commented that some of the provisions of the bill would be impossible to comply with. Gayle Ruzicka from the Utah Eagle Forum absolutely loves this bill, saying it is the number one concern she hears around the state when she does educational presentations. The committee voted to send the bill for Interim study.

HB423: School District Post Employment Insurance Benefit Amendments establishes requirements for districts to fund their postemployment insurance benefits. If they don’t follow the requirements, then they must close them to new employees. The bill passed out favorably.

HB425: State Educational Sovereignty Act requires that any new federal money over $50,000 must be approved by the State Board of Education. The bill passed out favorably.

SB39: Home School Amendments eliminates instructional requirements for students who attend a home school and provides that a school may assess a home school student upon reentering the public school system to determine the student’s appropriate placement. The bill passed out favorably on a vote of 9-4.

SB56 (1st Sub.): Risk Management Amendments says that a school is not held liable when the building is used for a civic activity. The bill passed out favorably.

SB101: Public Education Human Resource Management Amendments extends the deadline for full implementation of the new evaluation system by one year. Supt. Menlove added his support for the bill. The bill passed unanimously.

SB131 (1st Sub.): Student Leadership Grant continues the Student Leadership Grant program started last year. Seventeen out of thirty-four chose the ‘Leader In Me’ program. The funding also takes the money from a one-time basis to ongoing. Rep. Jim Nielson expressed concern about spending on a program like this that could be used for salaries and retirement costs. The bill passed out favorably.

SB215: Public School Comprehensive Emergency Response Plan Amendments requires schools to include students that are off campus, like seminary, in their emergency plans. The bill passed unanimously.

SB37: Statewide Online Education Program Revisions would require that school provide information about online education options. Sen. Daniel Thatcher distributed the one-page handout that must be included with registration materials. Reps. Kraig Powell and Rich Cunningham objected to the bill because it was promoting online programs over the other public school options. The bill passed the committee 7-5.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): SB80 (1st Sub.): Statewide Online Education Amendments would define what an IEP is for a special education online student. It also defines what dual enrollment is for a special education student who takes online courses and courses from the local school district or charter school. This bill would also allow higher ed to become providers of online courses for high schools.

State Supt. Martell Menlove expressed concerns about students who enroll in an online program but need special ed help and how they were to then enroll in a district program. He also said he didn’t feel it was right to have services provided to students in Utah by providers that the state board has no control or licenses over. The bill also allows higher ed providers but doesn’t limit them to in-state so the provider could be out of state without proper credentials, he said.

UEA Legislative Team member Sara Jones expressed concerns about special education services that could exclude some providers and require them to be provided by districts. She wondered the intent of this language that could require a school to provide services to a student not enrolled in the school. She also expressed concern about the credentials of providers if they were out of state.

Judy Clark from Parents for Choice in Education spoke in support of the bill saying the online program has been a success and the bill’s language is specific in regards to providers. PCE is very proud of the work the state office has done to reach out to home school and private school students, she said. The bill passed the committee 4-1.

HB116 (1st Sub.): School Construction Modifications requires the State Board of Education to adopt school construction guidelines and requires school districts to take these guidelines into consideration when planning school constriction. Rep. Rich Cunningham said he was concerned about the construction costs of schools and wanted to have some established guidelines. He said the standards will include minimum and maximum standards for size, acreage, and facilities. The bill passed unanimously.

HB286 (2nd Sub.): Child Sexual Abuse Prevention would provide for sexual abuse prevention training and instruction in schools. The bill would allow districts and charter schools to determine whether they wanted to offer such training and, if so, would require them to use materials approved by the State Board of Education. It would also allow parents to have their child excused from participation.

There was extensive public comment including supporting testimonies from Ed Smart, the reigning Mrs. Utah and several victims of sexual abuse. There was also discussion about the opt-out provisions of the bill. It passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate. The UEA supports this bill.

HB111: School Building Costs Reporting will require districts to give a report whenever there is a new building or significant remodel done in a school district. It will require that anything done in the past 10 years also be included in the report. The bill passed unanimously.

HB329: Programs for Youth Protection is a cleanup bill from last session to provide funding for middle schools and high schools to implement a suicide prevention program of their choice. The bill passed unanimously.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB403: Amendments Related to Education Funding freezes the basic property tax rate and puts in a fixed amount for the federal income tax deduction instead of a percentage. Rep. Joel Briscoe presented information about the loss of funding for retirement and Social Security, the transfers from the Education Fund into higher education and money lost due to the cut in the basic rate. Royce Van Tassel of the Utah Taxpayers Association spoke against the bill. UEA Legislative Team member Jay Blain spoke in favor of the bill, saying the additional revenue would help restore education funding lost during the recession. The bill failed 4-6.

House Floor (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): HJR21: Joint Resolution on the Sovereign Character of PILT--Payment in Lieu of Taxes strongly urges the United States Congress to and permanently fund Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and transfer to the state of Utah the federally controlled public lands within the state. The resolution passed 57-11.

HB150 (1st Sub.): Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Amendments expands the activities of the STEM Action Center. It asks for $10 million for STEM endorsements, $5 million for coding classes, $3.5 million for expanded classes in junior high and $5 million for grade six expansion. Rep. Joel Briscoe spoke in support of the bill. The bill passed unanimously.

HB213 (1st Sub.): Criminal Penalties for Sexual Contact with a Student has been on hold for three years but there have been 19 instances in the past three years, according to the bill sponsor. This bill clarifies what a person of trust is, clarifies what constitutes sexual activity, and sets grounds for loss of license. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Floor (Reported by Mark Mickelsen): SB240: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments passed by a vote of 26-0. The bill changes requirements relating to the application deadline for the Carson Smith Scholarship Program.

SB42: Early Childhood Education passed by a vote of 20-6. The bill establishes the High Quality Preschool Pilot Program to fund preschool programs for students of intergenerational poverty.

HB257: Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child passed unanimously. The bill modifies the offense of aggravated sexual abuse of a child by providing a definition of the term “position of special trust,” which includes educators.

SB209: School Grading Revisions passed the Senate by a vote of 19-8 and now goes to the House. This bill modifies procedures and standards for assigning a letter grade to a school based on the proficiency, learning gains, or college and career readiness of the school’s students. A floor amendment, approved by the body, says college readiness will be defined by looking at each subject area of the ACT.


March 7, 2014

Educator Day on the Hill (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): About thirty teachers from Jordan, Granite, Tooele, Salt Lake City, Weber, Davis and Sevier School Districts came to Educator Day on the Hill. It was the last day of regular committee meetings and even though the Senate Education Committee was not until 4 p.m., teachers attended different committees to learn, listen and talk to their representatives and senators. They also talked to their legislators during the floor sessions of the House and Senate.

During a lunch meeting, Reps. Joel Briscoe and Jim Bird visited the teachers. The teachers also shared conversations they had in the morning. They reported very strong support from legislators for funding the WPU, new student growth, teacher professional development and as separate line item for retirement before spending money on technology. Teachers also talked about the need for PAC donations and for attending their local caucus meetings.

Senate Education Committee (Reported by Jay Blain): HB239: Front Line Teachers Data Program would require the State Office of Education to report to the Education Interim Committee data on how much is being spent on compensation on teachers compared to others. Allows for adjustments for a district that might have very experienced teachers or other factors. The USOE must also place the data on the internet. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

HB223: School Board Election Provisions replaces the current Nominating Committee process for selecting state school board members with a direct, nonpartisan election. A representative from Utah PTA spoke in support of the bill. The bill failed on a vote of 3-3. The UEA supported this bill.

HB153: Study on Contribution and Credit for Education Funding creates a study by the Revenue and Taxation Interim Committee on a way for those paying the Alternative Minimum Tax to make a charitable contribution to the Utah Education Fund instead. The bill passed unanimously.

HB241: School Record Amendments adjusts suicide reporting to comply with FERPA. The bill passed out favorably.

HB236: State School Board Nomination Revisions prohibits a lobbyist from sitting on the State School Board Nominating Committee and that an incumbent must be one of the three people passed on to the Governor by the Nominating Committee. Sen. Mark Madsen claims that 99.9 percent of the time people who work for the government are only interested in growing the system. Sen. Howard Stephenson said he finds the bill offensive and it is discriminatory against lobbying as a profession. He said it is akin to other bigotry in our nation’s history. The bill failed 2-4.

House Political Subdivisions Standing Committee (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): SB113: Public Meetings Amendments ensures that official meetings held at the Capitol Complex by different groups that include legislators are published on the main Capitol schedule. The bill passed unanimously.

SB218: Charter School Amendments would create a new status for a charter school “High Priority” for schools built in high growth areas. UEA Vice President Tom Nedreberg expressed the UEA’s support for the concept. Shocked committee members asked if UEA stood for Utah Education Association. The bill passed unanimously.

House Floor (Reported by Tom Nedreberg): HB228 (1st Sub.): Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments would replace the current Nominating Committee process for selecting state school board members with a direct, partisan election. The UEA opposes this bill. Rep. Brian Greene said he didn’t want to think of this as education bill but look at it as a bill about fundamental government rights. There is the notion that the State Board is independent and somehow a partisan election will taint it. There is also concern that this bill will make the board loyal to party affiliation. He said not once in four years he has never been approached by a party leader and asked to vote a certain way, so he doesn’t see either party working to control members of their party who are elected. He then quoted a Supreme Court decision how the board must carry out the directives of the legislature. Another concern about the bill he’s heard is that partisan politics will trickle down to local school boards. He didn’t see that happening. He said that the opposition has resulted from people trying to raise fear instead of talking to the issues.

Rep. Brian King spoke in opposition to the bill. We have problems with how the state board is selected but making it partisan is not the way to go, he said. There is not partisan way to fix a pothole and there should not be a partisan way to administer education. Rep. Jim Nielsen also spoke in opposition saying many positions like judges, tax commissioners and city officials that are not partisan. Teachers and principals should not be partisan and we should not make those who select them partisan. As a former teacher, Rep. Marie Poulson said her students did not know what party she was from even though they had many discussions about politics. Partisanship should not be in the classroom or on the boards. We are in a partisan atmosphere here at the legislature but according to a Dan Jones survey 66 percent do not want state school board members to be partisan, she said.

Reps. Jacob Anderegg and Ryan Wilcox spoke in favor of the bill. Without party affiliation, it is difficult to know the candidates, said Rep. Anderegg. The partisan process gives people the opportunity to ask them questions. Rep. Wilcox said we can’t remove politics from school board elections. He said in town hall meetings no one knew who their state school board members were. With many more representatives still waiting to speak on the bill, the question was called to a vote. The bill failed 33-41.

HB342 (2nd Sub.): Powers and Duties of the State Board of Education modifies the powers and duties of the State Board of Education related to the development and adoption of core curriculum standards. It requires the State Board of Education to establish a timeline for the review of core curriculum standards in certain curriculum areas by a standards review committee; and a standards review committee to review, and recommend revisions to, core curriculum standards; specifies the membership of a standards review committee; and directs the State Board of Education to take into consideration the comments and recommendations of a standards review committee in adopting core curriculum standards. The bill passed 41-30. The UEA, the superintendents association, the school boards association and the state school board all oppose this bill.

HB399: Truancy Amendments would make it so a student with a 3.5 GPA could not be issued a habitual truancy notice and get possible legal action for missing school. Rep. Carol Moss said she is opposed to the bill because it takes away authority from the state and local school boards. It also sends message that students don’t have to go to school if they have a 3.5 GPA. Rep. Jim Neilson asked if we going to make it the path different for smart kids than for kids not as smart. We need a level playing field and not make it so someone that is smart is a protected class, he said. After considerable debate, the bill passed 47-27.

HB419: Charter School Revisions bill makes changes regarding how charter schools can be changed, established or expanded and creates an “opt in” for their participation in the Utah Retirement System. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Floor (Reported by Jay Blain): SB181: Online Course Reporting Requirements requires that when a course is taken online it is reported as such. The sponsor reported that this will increase accountability and transparency for online courses. The bill passed the Senate 27-1.