Page Title

UEA Report on the 2016 Utah Legislature General Session

Page Content

WEEK ONE: 

2016 LEGISLATURE WEEK ONE SUMMARY: January 25-29

Week One of the 2016 Utah General Legislative Session ended with the UEA tracking nearly 80 bills, well above the 60 being tracked at the same time last year. Additional bills are being added daily.

Session Opening: The House of Representatives welcomed two new members added since the body met last year. Rep. Lynn Hemingway replaced Rep. Justin Miller and Rep. Derrin Owens replaced Rep. Jon Cox. In the Senate, Sen. Lincoln Fillmore filled the seat of Sen. Aaron Osmond who resigned in December.

During opening comments to the Utah House of Representatives, Speaker Greg Hughes called on legislators “to fulfill the great vision of our late Speaker Becky Lockhart and be serious about this and see meaningful legislation that makes technology a more meaningful part of our children’s education experience.” President Wayne Neiderhauser touched only briefly on education in his remarks to the Utah Senate. “An emphasis on education is paramount for our children and the jobs that will need to be available to them. Our education needs to be aligned with our workforce needs,” he said.

Public Education Budget: The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which consists of 20 legislators from both the House and the Senate, met twice during the first week to begin the work of preparing a budget recommendation for the Executive Appropriations Committee. The draft HB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments bill was shared with the committee.

Legislative analyst Ben Leishman gave a short history of the WPU and school funding and other budget items. Committee members also heard several reports, including:

Educator Day on the Hill: About 20 educators representing six school districts and UEA-Retired participated in Educator Day on the Hill. UEA Legislative Team members shared information about several “hot” issues including proposals by Sen. Jim Dabakis to restore as much as $750 million per year to public education funding, a bill to allow SAGE to be used in student grading and a bill that would prohibit the use of student testing data on teacher evaluations. After discussion and instructions, participants attended appropriations subcommittee meetings then met with their legislators during Senate and House floor time, followed by lunch and afternoon committee meetings.

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

HB27: School District Participation in Risk Management Fund removes the repeal date (currently July 2016) and review requirement for provisions relating to public school district participation in the Risk Management Fund. The bill passed the House Floor unanimously and moves to the Senate.

HB28: Grants for Educator Professional Learning appropriates $30 million for a grant program to support LEA professional learning programs. UEA expressed support for the bill and efforts to restore professional development money but added that a 5% increase on the WPU was the first priority since that gave districts the most flexibility in addressing local needs. The bill passed the House Education Committee 10-3.

HB40: Agency Reporting Requirements eliminates the requirement to provide certain reports. The bill passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate.

HB41: Fees for Supplemental Hours allows a district or charter school to provide additional hours of kindergarten instruction and charge for the supplemental hours. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB42: Optional Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments administers a grant program to expand the number of enhanced kindergarten programs. The bill would appropriate an additional $10 million that would cover nearly 300 more schools in offering enhanced kindergarten programs. The bill passed the House Education Committee with one nay vote.

HB43: State Instructional Commission Amendments eliminates the repeal date for the State Board of Education State Instructional Materials Commission, currently July 1, 2016. The bill passed the House Floor 68-5 and moves on to the Senate.

HB45: Stem Program Amendments modifies the membership and duties of the STEM Action Center, provides rulemaking authority to the State Board of Education related to the award of STEM education endorsement incentives and adds Utah State University Eastern to the list of educational institutions that may provide courses for endorsements. The bill passed the House Floor unanimously moves on to the Senate.

HB49: State Liability Protection for School Employees modifies certain deadlines related to public school employers' notification to employees about the schools’ participation in the Risk Management Fund. The bill passed the House Floor unanimously and moves on to the Senate.

HB90: Education Background Check Amendments clarifies provisions related to background checks. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously and was placed on the House consent calendar.

HB152: Voted and Board Local Levy Modifications fixes the coordination problem for the distribution of money allocated through a bill passed last year (SB96). It passed out of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 6-2.

SB19 Phased Retirement allows state entities the opportunity to allow employees to work half time and take partial retirement without a one-year separation. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House.

SB25: Ballot Amendments amends provisions related to ballot format and content. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House.

SB38: School Funding Amendments would change the formula of the funds that charter schools receive from school districts in that charter schools would receive as part the property taxes approved by local school boards. UEA opposes this bill because it diverts property taxes to charter schools with no accountability to the elected school boards. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a unanimous vote.

SB45: Compulsory Education Provisions eliminates criminal penalties for the parent of a truant student. UEA opposes the bill because attendance is a critical factor in the academic success of students. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 6-1.

SB51: Teacher Leader Role authorizes the State Board of Education to develop a pathway to Teacher Leadership where a teacher could become a leader and commit to mentoring new educators and fellow educators. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

SB67: Partnerships for School Success provides grants to school districts where there is high poverty to work system-wide (elementary, junior and high school) with partners to provide better opportunities for children. UEA supports this bill, believing that the wrap-around services included in this bill are a much better way to increase student achievement than grading schools or last year’s school turnaround bill. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

SB78: State Board of Education Candidate Selection modifies the current candidate nomination and selection process for the state school board. The legislation keeps in place the “nominating committee” that vets candidates but changes the criteria by which a candidate is considered qualified. It creates a temporary selection process for the 2016 election. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee 4-1.

SB86: School Building Coordination requires a school district or charter school to notify certain entities before acquiring a school site or constructing a school. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.




 

 

January 25, 2016

Session Opening (reported by Mike Kelley): The House of Representatives welcomed two new members added since the body met last year. Rep. Lynn Hemingway replaced Rep. Justin Miller and Rep. Derrin Owens replaced Rep. Jon Cox. In the Senate, Sen. Lincoln Fillmore filled the seat of Sen. Aaron Osmond who resigned in December.

During opening comments to the Utah House of Representatives, Speaker Greg Hughes pointed to last year’s largest-in-a-decade public education funding increase and equalization of school property tax funding as successes from 2015. After recognizing members of the Utah State Board of Education, Hughes said he “cannot imagine a time when the ground was so fertile as it is now for collaboration between the school board and the legislature.” He added that “it is time for us to fulfill the great vision of our late Speaker Becky Lockhart and be serious about this and see meaningful legislation that makes technology a more meaningful part of our children’s education experience.”

President Wayne Neiderhauser touched only briefly on education in his remarks to the Utah Senate. “An emphasis on education is paramount for our children and the jobs that will need to be available to them. Our education needs to be aligned with our workforce needs,” he said.

Already there are nearly 50 education bills are numbered, available and included on the 2016 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet, compared to just a handful available at the same time last year. Education budget discussions begin in earnest Wednesday morning with a meeting of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. See more about the Utah Public Education budget.

House Floor (reported by Jay Blain): HB27: School District Participation in Risk Management Fund removes the repeal date (currently July 2016) and review requirement for provisions relating to public school district participation in the Risk Management Fund. The bill passed 71-0 and moves on to the Senate.

HB43: State Instructional Commission Amendments  eliminates the repeal date for the State Board of Education State Instructional Materials Commission, currently set to be repealed on July 1, 2016. The bill passed 68-5 and moves on to the Senate.

HB45: Stem Program Amendments modifies the membership and duties of the STEM Action Center, provides rulemaking authority to the State Board of Education related to the award of STEM education endorsement incentives and adds Utah State University Eastern to the list of educational institutions that may provide courses for endorsements.  The bill passed unanimously moves on to the Senate.

HB49: State Liability Protection for School Employees modifies certain deadlines related to public school employers' (both traditional schools and charter schools) notification to employees about the schools’ participation in the Risk Management Fund. The bill passed unanimously and moves on to the Senate.

See the UEA 2016 Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills being tracked by UEA.


January 26, 2016

Senate Education Committee (reported by Lisa Nentl-Bloom): Four bills were heard by the Senate Education Committee. Three of them are on the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet.

SB38: School Funding Amendments is sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson on behalf of the Charter School Funding Task Force. The Task Force recommended changes to Charter School Funding in the area of local property taxes. The bill would change the formula of the funds that charter schools receive from school districts in that charter schools would receive as part the property taxes approved by local school boards. This is a very hot issue in that when charter schools were created, funding form neighborhood schools was diverted to charter schools. But unlike neighborhood public schools, charter schools do not have elected Boards and no accountability to the school districts from which local property taxes flow. UEA opposes this bill. The bill passed out of committee on a unanimous vote, but it is likely there will be amendments moving forward.

SB51: Teacher Leader Role is sponsored by Sen. Ann Millner. This bill authorizes the State Board of Education to develop a pathway to Teacher Leadership where a teacher could become a leader and commit to mentoring new educators and fellow educators. It could possibly include a teacher leadership endorsement. UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom testified that while the UEA appreciates the interest in allowing teachers to advance in leadership without having to become an administrator, she wondered if a statewide credential is the right route. She suggested that stakeholders needed to be included in the development of the concept of teacher leadership, especially our Nationally Board Certified Teachers, our Teachers of the Year and other teacher leaders, principals, parents, etc. The bill passed out of committee.

SB67: Partnerships for School Success is also sponsored by Sen. Millner. This bill recognizes the critical role the community plays in providing quality opportunities for student success, especially in high poverty communities. This bill would provide grants to school districts where there is high poverty to work system-wide (elementary, junior and high school) with partners to provide better opportunities for our children. UEA supports this bill, believing that the wrap-around services included in this bill are a much better way to increase student achievement than grading schools or last year’s school turnaround bill. The bill passed out of committee.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which consists of 20 legislators from both the House and the Senate, began the work of preparing a budget recommendation for the Executive Appropriations Committee.  Senate Chair Howard Stephenson noted in opening remarks that he believes schools should be adequately, but not just on the WPU. He said there were “demonstrations” last year calling for an increase in the WPU, but the overall increase was nearly 10 percent, when all new sources are considered. We need to look at the overall picture and not just the WPU, he said. He also mentioned that the Utah State Board of Education has ‘discovered’ things they need in improving transparency and accountability and he hopes that the committee will be responsive to their requests.

Legislative fiscal analyst Ben Leishman presented and reviewed a meeting calendar for the subcommittee and tentative agendas for the meetings. He also shared a handy list of acronyms.

The remainder of the meeting consisted primarily of hearing various reports:

  • Rep. Jacob Anderegg was joined by representatives from the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) to present a Student Privacy Report.
  • Scott Jones, USOE Associate Supt over Business Services, reviewed a Teacher Supply Report with the committee. Sen. Stephenson asked what can be done to ensure that teachers aren’t sacrificing their family budget to supplement their classrooms. Jones referred to a chart in the study that showed that an additional $8.166 million would bring all teachers to $425. Sen. Stephenson asked if perhaps districts were already reimbursing many expenses. “Do we need to look at the bigger picture to supplement rather than supplanting what districts are doing?”
  • An update was given on the Reduction of Statutory Reports.
  • Leishman provided an Education Budget Overview and a document illustrating the flow of the State Appropriated Public Education Budget.

The draft HB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments bill was shared with the committee.


January 27, 2016

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB41: Fees for Supplemental Hours would allow a district or charter school to provide additional hours of kindergarten instruction and charge for the supplemental hours. It would also require that if extended kindergarten were provided, no student would be denied the opportunity to participate because of their inability to pay the fee. The bill passed unanimously.

HB42: Optional Enhanced Kindergarten Amendments would administer a grant program to expand the number of enhanced kindergarten programs. The bill would appropriate an additional $10 million that would cover nearly 300 more schools in offering enhanced kindergarten programs. The programs would target at-risk students needing additional support to be on track when they enter the first grade. Rep. Lowry Snow, the bill’s sponsor, clarified that the section of the bill addressing technology programs is a program that already exists and is simply being transferred from one section of statute to another. He also clarified that the legislation requires a qualifying program to emphasize “live instruction” with a teacher as the primary instructor and that technology would only be supplemental. The bill passed with one nay vote.

HB28: Grants for Educator Professional Learning would appropriate $30 million for a grant program to support LEA professional learning programs. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brad Last, stated that millions of dollars for professional development were cut during the recession and as a result teachers lost valuable training and contract days. This bill would help to restore some of that money. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of UEA, expressed support for the bill and appreciation for Rep. Last’s efforts to restore professional development money but added that a 5% increase on the WPU was the first priority since that gave districts the most flexibility in addressing local needs. The bill passed on a vote of 10-3.

HB90: Education Background Check Amendments was presented by Rep. Stephen Handy. This bill clarifies provisions related to background checks. The bill passed unanimously and was placed on the consent calendar.

HB181: Physical Control in Schools Amendments would prohibit the use of physical restraint or force to protect property from being damaged. Rep. Carol Moss stated that in order for the State School Board to change their rule regarding physical restraint there must be a corresponding change in statute. There was extensive discussion about the impact of the bill, appropriate definitions of physical restraint and potential liability issues. The committee adjourned without taking any action on the bill.


January 28, 2016

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): Legislative analyst Ben Leishman gave a short history of the WPU and school funding and other budget items. Sen. Lyle Hillyard asked if it is legal to use education funds to fund Pre-K. Leishman responded that if it is designated as part of the system they should be okay doing it.

Questions were asked about the teacher salary supplement program. Explanations were given that Special Education is not part of this program but extra hours are handled in another part of the budget. In addition, administration of the program moved from Division of Human Resource Management to State Board of Education. Computer Science was added last year.

Additional reports were presented on the Dual Language program, the Adult Education program, and voted and board levies.

Rep. Steve Eliason made a motion to substitute the Base Budget bill, changing the levy rates in order to allocate funding from last year’s SB96 property tax equalization that couldn’t be distributed because of conflicting language. There was not a quorum present at the time of the motion, so there was no vote.


January 29, 2016

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): About 20 educators participated in today’s Educator Day on the Hill. The day began with the UEA Legislative Team reviewing issues currently being considered.

Jay Blain began with budget issues. Sen. Jim Dabakis has proposed several bills to restore public education funding. These include a bill to reverse the change that allowed income tax to flow to higher education (SJR4: Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Education Funding), a bill to reverse the “flat tax” and return to tax brackets (SB104: Amendments to Income Tax), and one to hold higher education harmless by increasing the sales tax (not yet numbered). Blain also discussed charter school funding issues and several retirement bills.

Bills shared by Sara Jones included HB164: Education Testing Amendments, which allows SAGE to be used in student grading, HB200: Student Assessment Modifications, allowing schools to choose if they want to replace 11th grade SAGE testing with ACT and HB201: Student Testing Amendments, which prohibits the use of student testing data on teacher evaluations.

Chase Clyde shared information about two bills being discussed in the Senate Education Committee later today (see SB78 and SB45, below).

After additional instructions and discussion, participants attended appropriations subcommittee meetings then meet with their legislators during Senate and House floor time.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB78: State Board of Education Candidate Selection was presented by Sen. Ann Millner. The bill modifies the current candidate nomination and selection process for the state school board that was ruled unconstitutional. The legislation keeps in place the “nominating committee” that vets candidates but changes the criteria by which a candidate is considered qualified. It creates a temporary selection process for the 2016 election with a repeal date of Jan 1, 2017. Because the Legislature was unable to pass legislation in 2015 clarifying the election process for state school board, there was discussion about what will happen if the Legislature does not act this year. A representative from the Lieutenant Governor’s office stated that the likely outcome is that any candidate who files will move forward to the general election. However, some legislators felt that in the absence of no action by the Legislature the result was that no process exists. The bill passed 4-1.

SB45: Compulsory Education Provisions eliminates criminal penalties for the parent of a truant student. There was much public comment in favor of the legislation. Chase Clyde, speaking on behalf of UEA, stated that teachers are concerned with this legislation and that UEA opposes the bill because attendance is a critical factor in the academic success of students. The bill passed 6-1.

SB86: School Building Coordination was presented by Sen. Alvin Jackson. He said that this bill had previously been heard in the Transportation interim committee. The concern is that school buildings have been planned, building sites selected, and in some cases building have been constructed without involving the Utah Department of Transportation in the planning process. The purpose of the legislation is to involve UDOT early in the process to ensure that safety and accessibility issues – such as crosswalks, traffic signals, access roads – have been addressed. The bill passed unanimously.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB152: Voted and Board Local Levy Modifications fixes the coordination problem for the distribution of money allocated through a bill passed last year (SB96). The bill was substituted to make it immediately effective. It passed out of committee on a vote of 6-2.