Page Title

UEA Report on the 2016 Utah Legislature General Session

Page Content

WEEK SIX: 

2016 LEGISLATURE WEEK SIX SUMMARY: February 29-March 4

 

 Nebo School District teacher
Jim Griffin meets with his legislator
Mike McKell during Educator
Day on the Hill

With just four days left in the 2016 General Legislative Session, the number of bills being tracked by the UEA that potentially impact educators increased to 117. Action was taken on three dozen of those during Week Five. The Executive Appropriations Committee also approved a budget that increases the WPU by 3% over the current year.

Public Education Budget: The Executive Appropriations Committee distributed a budget proposal that funds new student growth ($90 million); 3% on the Weighted Pupil Unit ($82.5 million); $20 million for charter schools (about .75% WPU equivalent); and $10 million ongoing and $5 million one-time for technology. (See more about the budget.)

Educator Day on the Hill: About 80 participants from Alpine, Jordan, Provo, Weber, Nebo, Salt Lake City, So. Sevier, Davis, Uintah, Cache and Washington School Districts, along with several retired educators and representatives from the Utah School Employees Association attended activities during the final Educator Day on the Hill of the 2016 Legislative Session. In all, about 400 educators attended Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2016, more than in any other year.

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

HB10 (4th sub.): Initiative and Referendum Amendments passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB48 (4th sub.): Election Law Amendments passed the Senate unanimously after amendments. The House concurred with the amendments on a vote of 50-20. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB51: Recodification of Post-retirement Employment passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB75 (1st sub.): Epilepsy Training in Public Schools provides indemnification for public school employees who administer the medication. The bill passed the House Education Committee and also the full House on a vote of 63-7 and now goes to the Senate.

HB86 (3rd sub.): Postretirement Employment Restrictions rolls back the one-year hard separation for employees who retire and go back to work in a state job, to a 60-day waiting period. The Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee voted to hold the bill, meaning it is likely dead for this year.

HB118 (1st sub.): Public Access of Administrative Action addresses access of information on public state-controlled websites. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB142: Agency Auditing Procedures for Education changes the reporting procedures for the USOE auditing staff to report to the State Board of Education rather than the superintendent. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB175 (2nd sub.): Public Education Employment Amendments  is to clean up some elements concerning background checks on potential educational employees. The bill passed the full House and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. It now moves to the full Senate.

HB193 (1st sub.): Charter School Funding Amendments puts the board and voted levy guarantees into the Local Replacement Fund calculations but separates them from district funds. It also puts in place a state charter levy that replaces the 25% district contribution for the local replacement, which would now appear on county tax notices. For the current year, about $20 million would be allocated through the bill. The bill passed the House 60-11 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. (Note: SB38 (4th sub.): School Funding Amendments is an identical bill that has passed the Senate.)

HB200: Student Assessment Modifications would allow a school district or charter school to offer the ACT in place of the 11th grade SAGE test, if they choose to do so. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB201 (2nd sub.): Student Testing Amendments eliminates the use of SAGE testing scores for teacher evaluations. The bill passed the House on a vote of 60-4 and now moves to the Senate.

HB205: Tier II Retirement Amendments would give 1.72% multiplier for 35 years of service in the Tier 2 system in an attempt to equalize the ultimate benefit between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 state retirement systems. A motion to move the bill to master study to investigate how to fund the fiscal piece of the bill passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously.

HB221 (9th sub.): Immunization of Students Amendments sets requirements to obtain immunization exemptions for school-age children. It passed the House 38-37 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB272: Voted and Board Leeway Amendments increases the amount of state guarantee money that a school district may receive from the voted local levy guarantee program by increasing the maximum rate the state will guarantee over a certain number of years. It also increases the combined maximum rate the state will guarantee for the voted local levy guarantee program and the board local levy guarantee program over a certain number of years. The bill passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously.

HB288 (3rd sub.): Educational Records Protection Amendments would exempt certain education records from GRAMA requirements. The bill passed the Senate unanimously after amendment and now moves back to the House for concurrence.

HB312: Peer Assistance and Review Program Amendments would expand the PAR program from one school district to at least two districts. It has a fiscal note of $500,000. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB331 (1st sub.): Education Provisions would provide partial reimbursement for the cost of certification for those teachers who achieve National Board certification. It would also provide an ongoing $1,500 stipend to NBC teachers and an additional $2,500 stipend for NBC teachers teaching in a Title I school. The bill passed the House on a vote of 41-23 and passed the Senate Education Committee with one nay vote. It now goes to the full Senate.

HB354: Driver Education Funding Amendments would allow the Utah State Board of Education, by a majority vote, to redirect funds in the restricted fund for Driver’s Ed into other purposes. It passed the House on a vote of 54-18. After an amendment saying the money could be used for any “Driver’s Education” purpose, the bill passed the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

HB358 (1st sub.): Student Privacy Amendments passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate.

HB419 (1st sub.): Educator Licensing Amendments outlines situations in which the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Committee (UPPAC) must recommend revocation or suspension of an educator’s license. It also clarifies that the State Board of Education is under no obligation to follow UPPAC recommendations. The bill was substituted in the House Education Committee to include language the UEA requested. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 5-2.

HB423: Implementing Federal Education Program Amendments requires the State Board of Education to request that the legislature mitigate any financial loss if it is determined that failure to implement a federal goal, objective, program need or accountability system may result in a financial loss. The bill passed the House Education Committee with one no vote.

SB38 (4th sub.): Education 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. The fourth substitute would cost less than the original. The legislative fiscal analyst estimated the cost at $26 million. The bill passed the House Education Committee with a favorable recommendation and now goes the full House. (NOTE: HB193 (1st sub.): Charter School Property Tax Amendments is an identical bill that has already passed the House.)

SB45 (1st sub.): Compulsory Education Revisions would eliminate criminal penalties for the parent of a truant school-age child. After hearing testimony for and against the measure, the House Education Committee adjourned without taking any action.

SB78: State Board of Education Candidate Selection attempts to strike out educational viewpoints from criteria used by the nominating committee in selecting candidates for State Board of Education. It would only apply to the 2016 election. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the House Education Committee with one dissenting vote.

SB109: State Institutional Trust Land Amendments and SJR12: Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Changes to School Funds are companion bills to allow a change in the formula for distribution of State Institutional Trust Lands funds. The change would have the Trust operate more like an endowment and would require a vote to change the Utah Constitution. The UEA supports these bills. Both passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now go the full House.

SB125 (1st sub.): After-school Programs Amendments requires the State Board of Education to make rules that describe high quality standards for programs for elementary and secondary students that operate outside of the regular school day provides grant funding for certain programs. The bill originally failed in the Senate, but on reconsideration, passed on a vote of 20-3. It now goes to the House.

SB139: Board of Education Approval Amendments passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The bill would update current statute requiring the State Board of Education to approve teacher preparation programs based on standards such as those for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

SB143 (1st sub.): Competency-based Learning Amendments creates a grant program for up to three districts or charter schools to participate in the development of competency-based learning. The bill appropriates ongoing money to support the development, implementation and expansion of competency-based learning programs. The bill passed the Senate 23-2 and now moves to the House.

SB149 (1st sub.): School Grading Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 19-6 and now moves to the House. The bill increases by 2% the range for grade distributions for 2015-16 school grades and also requires that the range will increase by 2% annually until the lower point of the A range reaches 90%.

SB163: Kindergarten Age Exception Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 21-6 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill. It allows a student to enter kindergarten before the student is five years old under certain conditions.

SB165: Public Education Appointment and Hiring passed the Senate on a vote of 21-4 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill.

SB176 (1st sub.): Office of the State Board of Education Employment Amendments would allow the State Board of Education to create a program to incentivize IT and Finance staff at USOE to volunteer to give up career status and become exempt employees for higher pay. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 15-10 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill.

SB191: School Turnaround and Leadership Development Act Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 26-1 and now moves to the House. The bill extends deadlines required in the school turnaround program and clarifies that turnaround consultants will only receive a final payment if a school improves at the end of three years rather than just showing improvement for a single year.

SB244: School Funding Provisions sets up what is called the “Equity Pupil Unit,” intending over time to greatly equalize the property tax funding statewide by taking 1% of any new education funding that would go to the WPU each year. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SCR8: Concurrent Resolution Approving the Test and Training Range Land Exchange passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

SCR19: Concurrent Resolution on Education would recognize the limits of federal power related to education as set forth in the 10th Amendment. The resolution passed the Senate Education Committee 5-1.

SJR14 (1st sub.): Joint Resolution on Teacher Licensure Standards for the Twenty-first Century passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The resolution requires the State Board of Education to study and develop improvements to teacher preparation programs.


February 29, 2016

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB200: Student Assessment Modifications was presented by Rep. Marie Poulson. The bill would allow a school district or charter to offer the ACT in place of the 11th grade SAGE test, if they choose to do so. The bill passed unanimously.

SCR19: Concurrent Resolution on Education was presented by Sen. Stuart Adams. The resolution would recognize the limits of federal power related to education as set forth in the 10th Amendment. Sen. Adams said that the resolution is necessary because while only 7% of Utah’s public education budget is from federal funds, we do not want the federal government dictating policy in the state because of the ties to federal funding. The resolution passed 5-1.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB75: Epilepsy Training in Public Schools is a request not a mandate to provide medication, according to the sponsor, Rep. Douglas Sagers, The bill provides indemnification for public school employees who administer the medication. The first substitute clarifies that a nurse’s license is not in jeopardy if they allow somebody to administer the medication. Speakers for the bill stressed the need for their children. Those against the bill spoke about the dangers of using the medication in schools. The bill passed the committee.

SB109: State Institutional Trust Land Amendments and SJR12: Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Changes to School Funds are companion bills to allow a change in the formula for distribution of State Institutional Trust Lands funds. The change would have the Trust operate more like an endowment and would require a vote to change the Utah Constitution. The UEA supports these bills. Both passed the committee unanimously.

SB38 (4th sub.): Education 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. The fourth substitute would cost less than the original. The legislative fiscal analyst estimated the cost at $26 million. The change creates a new, revenue neutral property tax levy to raise this money. School districts could not raise their levy to recapture this money.

Howard Headlee, chair of State Charter School Board stated that the difference in funding comes from the local level and charters rely on the Local Replacement Funding (LRF) to make up that difference. He said the two items that should be included are the state guarantees and the recreation levies. He says that charters welcome transparency and they are the most accountable schools in the state.

Terry Shoemaker speaking on behalf of USSA, USBA and UASBO said he was here to tell them that all of these groups are looking very carefully and wanting to have elements with which they have comfort and right now they are feeling comfortable and it is headed in the right direction and the feel good about it right now.

UEA opposed the original bill because it diverted property taxes to charter schools with no accountability to the elected school boards, but has not yet taken a position on the fourth substitute. The bill passed the committee with a favorable recommendation.

HB193 (1st sub.): Charter School Property Tax Amendments is identical to the fourth substitute of SB38. Rep. Brad Last said this bill is kind of an insurance policy coming from the House side. The bill passed out favorably.

House Floor: SCR8: Concurrent Resolution Approving the Test and Training Range Land Exchange passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB354: Driver Education Funding Amendments passed the House on a vote of 54-18 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB312: Peer Assistance and Review Program Amendments would expand the PAR program from one school district to at least two districts. It has a fiscal note of $500,000. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Floor: HB118 (1st sub.): Public Access of Administrative Action addresses access of information on public state-controlled websites. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB142: Agency Auditing Procedures for Education changes the reporting procedures for the USOE auditing staff to report to the State Board of Education rather than the superintendent. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

SB125: After-school Programs Amendments, which originally failed in the Senate Feb. 26 on a vote of 13-11, was voted for reconsideration and placed on the second reading calendar. The bill requires the State Board of Education to make rules that describe high quality standards for programs for elementary and secondary students that operate outside of the regular school day provides grant funding for certain programs.


March 1, 2016

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB272: Voted and Board Leeway Amendments was presented by Rep. Joel Briscoe. This bill increases the amount of state guarantee money that a school district may receive from the voted local levy guarantee program by increasing the maximum rate the state will guarantee over a certain number of years. It also increases the combined maximum rate the state will guarantee for the voted local levy guarantee program and the board local levy guarantee program over a certain number of years. Billy Hesterman of the Utah Taxpayers Association said his organization is officially neutral on the bill. He said it might increase the size of the ‘carrot’ for district to increase their taxes. The bill passed unanimously.

HB205: Tier II Retirement Amendments was presented by Rep. Rich Cunningham. This bill is an attempt to equalize the benefit between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 state retirement systems. It would give 1.72% multiplier for 35 years of service in the Tier 2 system. This would be equal to a 60% benefit, which is somewhat equivalent to the 60% benefit at 30 years in the Tier 1 system.

There was only time for three people to provide public comment. Kelly Atkinson, representing Fraternal Order of Police, spoke in favor of the bill. He brought up the change to the non-contributory system. We have a major inequality in the two systems, he said. Todd Losser from the Utah Public Employees Association also spoke in favor. He said retirement is a critical component of the benefit package for public employees. Rulon Green, a police officer, also spoke in favor. I love this job but fewer people want to do it and this change would help, he said.

Rep. Cunningham made a motion to move the bill to master study to investigate how to fund the fiscal piece of the bill. The motion passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Jay Blain): HB175 (2nd sub.): Public Education Employment Amendments was presented by Rep. Kraig Powell. This bill is to clean up some elements concerning background checks on potential educational employees. The bill passed unanimously.

HB201 (2nd sub.): Student Testing Amendments eliminates the use of SAGE testing scores for teacher evaluations. Rep. Marie Poulson mentioned that testing opt-out rates are a problem and so is the fact that only tested subjects and grades are using it. She added that student growth percentiles based on the tests are not reliable enough to be used for teacher evaluations. There are also difficulties in administering the tests on computers, she said. “Are we testing computer skills or the material being tested?” The bill passed the House on a vote of 60-4.

HB331 (1st sub.): Education Provisions passed the House on a vote of 41-23 and now moves to the Senate. The bill provides partial reimbursement and an ongoing stipend for teachers who earn National Board Certification.

Senate Floor: SB139: Board of Education Approval Amendments passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The bill would update current statute requiring the State Board of Education to approve teacher preparation programs based on standards such as those for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

SB149 (1st sub.): School Grading Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 19-6 and now moves to the House. The bill modifies the school grading law. It increases by 2% the range for grade distributions for 2015-16 school grades and also requires that the range will increase by 2% annually until the lower point of the A range reaches 90%.

SB163: Kindergarten Age Exception Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 21-6 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill. It allows a student to enter kindergarten before the student is five years old under certain conditions.

SB165: Public Education Appointment and Hiring passed the Senate on a vote of 21-4 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill.

SB191: School Turnaround and Leadership Development Act Amendments passed the Senate on a vote of 26-1 and now moves to the House. The bill makes two technical and clarifying changes to the Turnaround program created last year. It slightly extends deadlines required for in the program and clarifies that turnaround consultants will only receive a final payment if a school improves at the end of three years rather than just showing improvement for a single year.

SJR14 (1st sub.): Joint Resolution on Teacher Licensure Standards for the Twenty-first Century passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. The resolution requires the State Board of Education to study and develop improvements to teacher preparation programs.

SB143 (1st sub.): Competency-based Learning Amendments creates a grant program for up to three districts or charter schools to participate in the development of competency-based learning. The bill appropriates ongoing money to support the development, implementation and expansion of competency-based learning programs. The bill passed the Senate 23-2 and now moves to the House.


March 2, 2016

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain) HB423: Implementing Federal Education Program Amendments requires the State Board of Education to request that the legislature mitigate any financial loss if it is determined that failure to implement a federal goal, objective, program need or accountability system may result in a financial loss. Gayle Ruzicka of the Eagle Forum and Oak Norton testified in favor of the bill. The bill passed the committee with one no vote.

HB419 (1st sub.): Educator Licensing Amendments is a follow-up to last year’s HB345, according to the sponsor, Rep. Ken Ivory. The bill outlines situations in which the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Committee (UPPAC) must recommend revocation or suspension of an educator’s license. It also clarifies that the State Board of Education is under no obligation to follow UPPAC recommendations. In his presentation, Rep. Ivory claimed that the UEA sued the State Board because they believed the board didn’t have the authority to make rules. The bill was substituted to include language the UEA requested. It provides notice and other important process items, he said.

Cass Harstad, on behalf of the Utah Trial Lawyers Association, clarified that the lawsuit was not about the Board’s authority, it was about the Board not following the rulemaking procedures. It is hard for an educator to know what they can or cannot do because of vague language, she said. She is concerned that language like this will drive teachers away. She explained how this bill would allow the Board to consider additional evidence without a chance for the accused to respond.

Lisa Nentl-Bloom, executive director of UEA, thanked Rep. Ivory for collaborating on the bill and for being amenable to amendments. Nobody wants a sexual abuser in the classroom, she said, but there are other types of cases before UPPAC. “What we want is clarity in the rules.”

Dave Crandall, chair of State Board of Education, asserted that it isn’t really the educator’s license but their unsupervised access to children. “We respect the idea that a license is a property right and there should be due process around it,” he said. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 5-2.

SB45 (1st sub.): Compulsory Education Revisions would eliminate criminal penalties for the parent of a truant school-age child. Sen. Alvin Jackson, the bill’s sponsor, said this bill is about the “proper role of government.” Government should never be used as force, he said. The substitute bill removes a truant student’s performance from a teacher’s evaluation. After hearing testimony for and against the measure, the committee adjourned without taking any action.

Senate Floor: SB176 (1st sub.): Office of the State Board of Education Employment Amendments would allow the State Board of Education to create a program to incentivize IT and Finance staff at USOE to volunteer to give up career status and become exempt employees for higher pay. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 15-10 and now moves to the House. The UEA opposes this bill.


March 3, 2016

Budget: The Executive Appropriations Committee distributed a budget proposal that funds new student growth ($90 million); 3% on the Weighted Pupil Unit ($82.5 million); $20 million for charter schools (about .75% WPU equivalent); and $10 million ongoing and $5 million one-time for technology. See more about the public education budget.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB244: School Funding Provisions was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The bill sets up what he calls the “Equity Pupil Unit” intending over time to greatly equalize the property tax funding statewide by taking 1% of the funding that would go to the WPU each year. Sen. Fillmore stated that this fulfills a fundamental campaign promise he made.

Sara Jones from the UEA stated that while this is a laudable goal, significant input should have been had from stakeholders on this type of policy decision. She noted the teacher shortage crisis and how this concept should be vetted in light of this crisis and the funding should be viewed. Sen. Stephenson asked if we should take all of the guarantee money and put it on the WPU. Dr. Jones responded that in this unusual time of teacher shortages such a significant changes requires more in-depth study.

Natalie Grange, director of school finance for the Utah State Office of Education, stated that there are technical corrections that need to be made. Sen. Fillmore indicated that he has a substitute bill coming that will address her concerns.

Sen. Stephenson called out local school districts for not speaking in the committee, calling their silence on the bill “deafening.” He said that not speaking was the same as agreeing to the bill because this is the time for public comment. The bill passed unanimously.

House Education Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): SB78: State Board of Education Candidate Selection was presented by Sen. Ann Millner. Her bill attempts to strike out educational viewpoints from criteria used by the nominating committee in selecting candidates for State Board of Education. In 2014, a judge found the nominating committee’s methods to be unconstitutional. Sen. Millner’s bill would be a temporary fix. It has a repeal date after the 2016 election.

Rep. Kim Coleman made a successful motion to amend the bill to remove all requirements to consider when the nominating committee considers candidates. This means the nominating committee can determine its own criteria to determine the most qualified and suitable candidates for the ballot. The language of the bill still prevents potential candidates from being asked about their philosophical or political views on education issues. Rep. LaVar Christensen made a successful motion to amend the bill to allow the committee to consider candidates based on their support for the Legislature’s vision of public education. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the committee with one dissenting vote.

Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB354: Driver Education Funding Amendments would allow the Utah State Board of Education, by a majority vote, to redirect funds in the restricted fund for Driver’s Ed into other purposes. Supt. Ray Terry from Beaver School District said districts could use and extra money from the State Office because there are districts losing money and covering it with property tax money. Supt. Kent Larsen from South Sanpete School District commented that in his two High Schools, one lost $4,115 and the other lost $11,638 and he could certainly use increased reimbursements.

Scott Jones, deputy superintendent for business at USOE, wanted to add some clarity. He said that they pay reimbursements semi-annually. He portrayed the USBE as being as supporting partners with the LEA’s in a co-joint effort and they would certainly try to work with them. After an amendment saying the money could be used for any “Driver’s Education” purpose, the bill passed unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

House Floor: HB75 (1st sub.): Epilepsy Training in Public Schools provides indemnification for public school employees who administer the medication. The bill passed the House 63-7 and now goes to the Senate.

HB10 (4th sub.): Initiative and Referendum Amendments passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor: HB51: Recodification of Post-retirement Employment passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

SB125 (1st sub.): After-school Programs Amendments requires the State Board of Education to make rules that describe high quality standards for programs for elementary and secondary students that operate outside of the regular school day provides grant funding for certain programs. The bill originally failed in the Senate, but on reconsideration, passed on a vote of 20-3. It now goes to the House.


March 4, 2016

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Educators from Alpine, Jordan, Provo, Weber, Nebo, Salt Lake City, So. Sevier, Davis, Uintah, Cache and Washington School Districts, along with several retired educators and representatives from the Utah School Employees Association, met early in the Copper Room of the Senate Building for the final Educator Day on the Hill of the 2016 Legislative Session. They were joined later by members of the UEA Board and UniServ staff, for a total of about 70 attending.

The teachers heard about bills the UEA is watching and were encouraged to speak to their representatives and senators about those bills. UEA Executive Director Lisa Nentl-Bloom shared information about the budget recently proposed by the Executive Appropriations Committee (see March 3 report). Rep. Derrin Owens stopped by during lunch to share legislative insights and to thank the teachers for what they do. As school counselor, Rep. Owens encouraged all educators to get involved. “We don’t realize our strength,” he said. “You have more voice than you know.”

Nearly 400 educators attended the six Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2016, setting a new record for educator involvement. As teachers participate in the legislative process, they gain greater understanding about the importance of being politically involved in order to protect public education and to advocate for students.

Executive Appropriations Committee (reported by Jay Blain): On March 3, the Executive Appropriations Committee distributed a budget proposal that funds new student growth ($90 million); 3% on the Weighted Pupil Unit ($82.5 million); $20 million for charter schools (about .75% WPU equivalent); and $10 million ongoing and $5 million one-time for technology.

In today’s meeting, Rep. Joel Briscoe made a motion to increase the WPU to 4% by deleting funding for the Stem Action Center and charter school equalization (SB38), and reducing the amount for technology (HB277). The motion failed on party lines. Several other motions were made by the Democrats that failed on party lines. See more about the public education budget.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB175 (2nd sub.): Public Education Employment Amendments was presented by Rep. Kraig Powell. The bill would amend provisions related to employment and licensing in public education. Rep. Powell stated that he had worked extensively with a large group of stakeholders and this bill represented a consensus position. There was no committee discussion or public comment. The bill passed unanimously.

HB331: Educator Provisions was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. The bill would provide reimbursement for the cost of certification for those teachers who achieve National Board certification. It would also provide a $1,500 stipend to NBC teachers and an additional $2,500 stipend for NBC teachers teaching in a Title I school. The bill passed with one nay vote.

Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB86 (3rd sub.): Postretirement Employment Restrictions rolls back the one-year hard separation for employees who retire and go back to work in a state job, to a 60-day waiting period. Rep. Rich Cunningham began by explaining the third substitute includes a five-year cap on reemployment and employees would have to pay the increased contribution rate. He then explained the status of reemployment before the law change in 2010 and what it would be now. The third substitute addresses the costs of the bill, he said.

During public testimony, former State Sen. Dan Liljenquist said this bill will not add a single person to the labor force and will not increase retention. The solution to employee shortages is to increase wages, he said. A representative from Sutherland Institute also spoke against the bill. Representatives from Draper City Police Department, Bountiful City Police Department, Washington County School District, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Utah Public Employees Association all spoke in support of the bill.

The committee voted to hold the bill, meaning it is likely dead for this year.

House Floor: HB193 (1st sub.): Charter School Funding Amendments was presented by Rep. Kraig Powell. Part 1 of the bill puts the board and voted levy guarantees into the Local Replacement Fund calculations but they will not come out of the district contributions but rather the income tax money at the state level, he said. Part 2 of the bill puts in place a state charter levy that replaces the 25% district contribution for the local replacement. It will also now appear on the county tax notices. The new levy will be revenue neutral for districts because they will lower their levy accordingly, Rep. Powell said.

Rep. Joel Briscoe said that there was not unanimity on the Charter School Task Force. We have to be very clear that the WPU is 3.0% for district schools and 3.75% for Charter Schools, he said. He spoke against the bill. Rep. Derrin Owens also spoke against the bill. He explained equality depends on who is writing the formula. He doesn’t see the transparency yet on the charter side. “There is a work that needs to be done and this bill is not the answer,” he said. One point is that there are many more elementary charters than charter high schools and therefore cheaper and this is missed in the comparisons.

Rep. Steve Eliason spoke in favor of the bill. “I don’t know of any other bill that has had more work done on it than this one,” he said. He expressed is wish that they could put more money on the WPU for all children, but still encouraged support for this bill. Rep. Francis Gibson reminded everybody that he ran the bill last year to set up the Charter School Funding Task Force to try to end the bickering between charters and districts. He brought up the point that last year there was a $75 million bill that only went to districts. He said that districts are 100% behind this bill.

The bill passed the House 60-11 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. (Note: SB38 (4th sub.): School Funding Amendments is an identical bill that has passed the Senate.)

HB48 (4th sub.): Election Law Amendments passed the Senate unanimously after amendments. The House concurred with the amendments on a vote of 50-20. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB221 (9th sub.): Immunization of Students Amendments sets requirements to obtain immunization exemptions for school-age children. It passed the House 38-37 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB288 (3rd sub.): Educational Records Protection Amendments would exempt certain education records from GRAMA requirements. The bill passed the Senate unanimously after amendment and now moves back to the House for concurrence.

HB358 (1st sub.): Student Privacy Amendments passed the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate.