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UEA Report on the 2017 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK THREE: 

2017 LEGISLATURE WEEK THREE SUMMARY: February 6-10

Of the 95 bills currently being tracked by the UEA, 22 moved through the legislative process this week. One, the “base budget” (SB1), passed both the Senate and the House and was sent to the Governor for signature. This bill sets the budget the same as last year. A supplemental bill, to be considered later in the session, will determine any new funding for public education.

During this week’s Educator Day on the Hill event, the Senate chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee stopped by to share his insight on the public education budget with attendees. There is about $325 million in new money available after adjusting budgets, said Sen. Jerry Stevenson. Student growth and a 3 percent WPU increase would take nearly all of that.

Public Education Budget: The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee received a new funding request list showing all the ongoing and one-time budget requests for the next year, not in any priority order. It was noted that these requests exceed the available funding. The subcommittee also received a new motions sheet.

After the subcommittee heard from several people requesting appropriations, Senate subcommittee chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard gave advice and direction to the subcommittee members on how they should provide input on the budget. First, growth needs to be funded and second a minimum 2.5% on the WPU, he said. He suggested not going beyond that. He also suggested that subcommittee members think of the welfare of the entire state not just their own districts.

SB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments sets the base budget the same as the previous year. It passed both the Senate and the House unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature. A supplemental bill, to be considered later in the session, will determine any new funding for public education.

Educator Day on the Hill: Welcome to the Capitol! Several of the 30 educators, administrators and education support professionals attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill were participating for the first time. Many of the new participants traveled from Moab and met Thursday evening to discuss the lobbying process. Also represented were Weber, Davis, Granite, Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and Utah School Employees Association.

During an early morning meeting, the UEA Legislative Team discussed key bills moving through the legislative process, including Senate Bill 80. This bill would require that the legislature earmark an amount equal to one-third of any new WPU increase to a funding equalization program. It was explained that the bill creates “winners” and “losers” with only a few districts benefiting.

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

HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate. The bill amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state and amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools.

HB43: American Indian and Alaskan Native Education Amendments passed the House 73-1. It would provide $500,000 a year to fund recruitment and retention efforts of teachers teaching in schools serving primarily American Indian and Alaskan Native students.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires a local school board or charter school governing board to update a policy related to bullying and implement a grievance process for a school employee who experiences abusive conduct. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB114: Local School Entity Amendments modifies provisions relating to the Minimum School Program Act. The bill the House passed unanimously

HB125: Student Residency Amendments enacts provisions governing the school district of residency for a child who is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB132: School Bus Safety Requirements requires new school buses purchased after June 30, 2017, to be equipped with seatbelts. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 30-40.

HB166 (1st sub.): School and Institutional Trust Fund Amendments changes the number of times the State Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) meets from nine to six. It passed a House committee and the full House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB168: Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools. Money for the program would come from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds rather than from the Education Fund. It also requires that the State Board of Education will develop entry and exit assessments for the enrichment program. The bill passed the House Education Committee 8-2.

HB209: Administration of Medication to Students Amendment passed the House unanimously. The bill allows for the administration of an opiate antagonist to a student.

HB215: Reproductive Health Education and Services Amendments failed in the House Education Committee on a vote of 2-12.

HCR5: Concurrent Resolution on Clean Fuel School Buses supports dedicating of a portion of the funds allocated to the state from the Volkswagen settlement for the purpose of replacing at least a portion of the 433 dirty diesel school buses with clean fuel school buses. The resolution passed the House 69-4 and now goes to the Senate.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. The bill passed the House Education Committee 8-2.

SB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments sets the base budget the same as the previous year. It passed both the Senate and the House unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature. A supplemental bill, to be considered later in the session, will determine any new funding for public education.

SB49: Purpose of Minimum School Program would change the wording of the “mission statement” of the state school funding program to refer to “each child” rather than “all children”. The UEA opposes this bill. It failed in the House Education Committee 3-7.

SB64 (1st sub.): Student Scholarship Amendments changes the amount of the Centennial Scholarship and allows for a deferment. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB80: School Funding Amendments would take an amount equal to one-third of the increase on the WPU each year to increase the number of guaranteed local levy increments to qualifying districts, thereby leaving less available for the WPU. The UEA opposes this bill, which benefits some school districts, but not others. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 19-9 and now goes to the House.

SB150: Local Government Bond Amendments requires a governing body to state the cost of a bond at the beginning of a ballot proposition. It passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously.

SB161: Bullying and Hazing Amendments requires a school board to update its policy regarding bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation; requires employees, students and parents to sign a statement annually acknowledging understanding of the school board's policy; and requires training for school employees related to bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB163: Student Data Protection Amendments permits a third-party contractor to identify for a student institutions of higher education or scholarship providers that are seeking students who meet specific criteria. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB168: Career and College Readiness Mathematics Competency Revisions requires the State Board of Regents to select at least one test as an alternative to the ACCUPLACER College-Level Math test. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB180: Charter School Start-up Grants extends charter school start-up grants by removing the repeal date. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

SB173: English Language Arts Amendments would appropriate $200,000 to create a pilot program to implement software licenses for English Language Arts instruction in grades 4-12. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.


February 6, 2017

House Retirement and Independent Entities Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB166 (1st sub): School and Institutional Trust Funds Amendments changes the number of times the State Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) meets from nine to six. There are some other technical changes in the bill. Rep. Jefferson Moss presented the bill with a bit of history on the formation of SITFO and they are a more mature entity they only need to meet six times a year. Tim Donaldson, director of Children’s Trust Section at the State Board of Education, and David Damschen, state treasurer, both spoke in favor of the bill. It passed the committee unanimously.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB137: Public Education Curriculum Requirements requires the State Board of Education to report on certain curriculum, instructional and training materials to the Education Interim Committee of the legislature, including who funds the programs. It also changes sexual abuse prevention curriculum from an opt-out to an opt in program.

In his presentation, Rep. Keven Stratton said one of his goals is to affirm local control of the curriculum. He had a former prevention specialist go through the core standards for the topics covered in Utah Schools. He wants transparency to who has funded materials, such as Planned Parenthood, he said. He invited presenters to share details about how the current program is not working.

Several committee members spoke to the bill. Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss spoke strongly against the bill saying it isn’t a sex education bill and that the curriculum is a very good and protects children against abuse in an age-appropriate way. Rep. Lowry Snow noted that, unfortunately, abuse comes from within the home. He wanted to understand where the safety net is for those children if it is changed to an opt-in program. Rep. Bruce Cutler expressed concern about the legislature being involved in curriculum.

Public comments were made both in favor and against the bill. After lengthy discussion, Rep. Marie Poulson makes a motion to move to next item on the agenda. The motion to move on passed on a vote of 11-3.

HB215: Reproductive Health Education and Services Amendments was presented by Rep. Brian King. It failed on a vote of 2-12.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB114: Local School Entity Amendments modifies provisions relating to the Minimum School Program Act, repeals outdated language; and makes technical changes. The bill the House passed unanimously

HB43: American Indian and Alaskan Native Education Amendments passed 73-1. It is an expansion of a similar bill that passed last year. It would provide $500,000 a year to certain schools to fund recruitment and retention efforts of teachers teaching in schools serving primarily American Indian and Alaskan Native students.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments sets the base budget the same as the previous year. It passed unanimously. A supplemental bill, to be considered later in the session, will determine any new funding for public education.


February 7, 2017

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee continued to hear reports on various programs and from various entities:

Legislative Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman provided a presentation on Science Outreach, Informal Science Education Enhancement (iSEE).

Analyst Jill Curry reported on funding of Educator Licensing. Representatives from the State Board of Education provided data and a proposal on Educator Licensing feesRep. Dan McCayexpressed his sensitivity to the cycle of teachers paying post-tax money out of already low pay for these fees that probably should be paid out of state funds. Rep. Steve Eliason also spoke about paying these fees from state funds, but Leishman reminded them about state code that requires that licensing and UPPAC be funded from licensing fees.

The subcommittee then heard reports from the State Charter School Board including one from the fiscal analystone from the Charter School Board and one about charter school start-up grants.

State Supt. Syd Dickson, Sen. Howard Stephenson and Governor’s education advisor Tami Pyfer presented a document showing education plan commonalities between the Governor, the Utah State Board and NCSL.

Budget requests for ongoing and one-time costs were distributed to the committee. Presentations will be made on Thursday, they said.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB150: Local Government Bond Amendments requires a governing body to state the cost of a bond at the beginning of a ballot proposition. It passed the committee unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley and Jay Blain): SB80: School Funding Amendmentswould take an amount equal to one-third of the increase on the WPU each year to increase the number of guaranteed local levy increments to qualifying districts, thereby leaving less available for the WPU. The UEA opposed this bill, which benefits some school districts, but not others.

In earlier floor debate, Sen. Lyle Hillyard spoke in opposition to the bill. He talked about Rich School District. He invited anybody to visit Rich High School and compare it to Northridge High School. He told about Dale Lambourne, Rich superintendent, who is also the principal of Rich High School and occasionally drives a bus. Sen. Hillyard says they are told ‘just raise taxes.’ Well, 2/3 of their values are second homes. Districts may not be cut but they won’t get the same, he said.

Sen. Jim Dabakis expressed concern that is not new money, it is just spreading the same money around. There are other equities that don’t get attention like the achievement gap, he said.

Sen. Howard Stephenson spoke in support. Students shouldn’t be funded based on their zip code, he said. We should spend on every student equally. It is really important that we empower school districts to compete for quality teachers. He cited statistics that fully loaded compensation is over $70,000 on average and Tooele is in the $60’s. He pleaded for support.

The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 19-9 and now goes to the House.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments sets the base budget the same as the previous year. It passed unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature. A supplemental bill, to be considered later in the session, will determine any new funding for public education.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires a local school board or charter school governing board to update a policy related to bullying and implement a grievance process for a school employee who experiences abusive conduct. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB125: Student Residency Amendments enacts provisions governing the school district of residency for a child who is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.


February 8, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones and Mike Kelley): SB161: Bullying and Hazing Amendments was presented by Sen. Luz Escamilla. The bill requires a school board to update its policy regarding bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation; requires employees, students and parents to sign a statement annually acknowledging understanding of the school board's policy; and requires training for school employees related to bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, and retaliation. It passed unanimously.

SB163: Student Data Protection Amendments, by Sen. Jacob Anderegg, permits a third-party contractor to identify for a student institutions of higher education or scholarship providers that are seeking students who meet specific criteria. It passed the committee unanimously.

SB180: Charter School Start-up Grants was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. It extends charter school start-up grants by removing the repeal date. The bill passed unanimously.

SB173: English Language Arts Amendments was also presented by Sen. Stephenson. The bill would appropriate $200,000 to create a pilot program to implement software licenses for English Language Arts instruction in grades 4-12. The bill passed unanimously. The UEA believes this bill is unnecessary.

SB168: Career and College Readiness Mathematics Competency Revisions was presented by Sen. Stephenson. It requires the State Board of Regents to select at least one test as an alternative to the ACCUPLACER College-Level Math test. The bill passed unanimously.

HB136: Board of Education Revisions was presented by Rep. Mike Kennedy. The bill would allow the State Board of Education to review federal education programs to determine if they align with state goals and if they do not align to refuse federal money to implement the programs and seek a state legislative appropriation to offset the fiscal loss. There were extensive questions from the committee about the potential impact to federal programs such as school lunch, Title I or special education. There was no action taken on the bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate. The bill amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state and amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools.

HCR5: Concurrent Resolution on Clean Fuel School Buses supports dedicating of a portion of the funds allocated to the state from the Volkswagen settlement for the purpose of replacing at least a portion of the 433 dirty diesel school buses with clean fuel school buses. The resolution passed on a vote of 69-4 and now goes to the Senate.


February 9, 2017

Public Education Appropriations Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Legislative Fiscal Analyst Ben Leishman presented a new funding request list. The list is not in any priority order, he said. The subcommittee also received a new motions sheet.

Jessalie Anderson and Nolan Karras, representing Our Schools Now, presented on the proposed initiative. Sen. Howard Stephenson said it was opinion that the initiative will make it to the ballot because of the strong business support. His biggest concern is that if it fails it will be very detrimental to teachers, but if it passes it will hurt economic development. He then talked about the $850 million from the Income Tax currently going to higher education. He says he has a priority bill that could be used to stop some of this money from leaving public education. Another amendment could freeze the basic rate, he said. In the past he has fought such a freeze, but he sees it as preferable to an income tax increase.

After the subcommittee heard from several people requesting appropriations, Senate subcommittee Chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard gave advice and direction to the subcommittee members on how they should provide input on the budget. First, growth needs to be funded and second a minimum 2.5% on the WPU, he said. He suggested not going beyond that. He also suggested that subcommittee members think of the welfare of the entire state not just their own districts.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones and Jay Blain): HB168: Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program was presented by Rep. Lowry Snow. The bill would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools that have not been able to access other existing programmatic monies. The bill would appropriate funding from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds rather than from the Education Fund. It also requires that the State Board of Education will develop entry and exit assessments for the enrichment program. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of the UEA, thanked Rep. Snow for his continued focus on the importance of early learning programs that impact a student’s learning for many years to come. She also thanked him for funding the $3 million program with federal TANF funds rather than requesting Education Fund monies and putting additional pressure on the WPU. Several others spoke in favor of the bill including pediatrician Dr Ryan Sonne, Abby Albrecht representing the Salt Lake Chamber, Christine Cooke from the Sutherland Institute and Kara Sherman representing the PTA. The bill passed 8-2.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School was presented by Rep. Carol Spackman Moss. The resolution encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. Testimony given touched the health and education benefits of getting enough sleep. Also, people and representatives said they were glad that it wasn’t a mandate. The bill passed 8-2.

SB49: Purpose of Minimum School Program was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The bill would change the wording of the “mission statement” of the state school funding program to refer to “each child” rather than “all children”, among other changes. Sen. Fillmore presented the bill as “minor changes” that would update legislative language to reflect current practices in public education, however, there were extensive questions from the committee. Rep. LaVar Christensen asked if the bill was in any way related to SB80, which proposes a new funding equalization program. He also asked about the substantive purpose of the bill because there wasn’t a need for a bill if it was simply to make some grammatical changes. Rep. Derrin Owensand Rep. Marie Poulson both asked questions related to whether the changes would require that every student might now reasonably expect that they should have access to any program offered in any school since the new language created a focus on opportunities for “each child”. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of UEA, spoke in opposition to the bill. She said that while teachers, principals and schools educate individual children, the role of the state has been to fund a system of education. The move from systems-level funding to individual-level funding would open the door to backpack funding – the idea that each child would have a “backpack” of money that follows them to any school whether public, private, online or charter. The bill failed3-7.

SB64 (1st sub.): Student Scholarship Amendments was also presented by Sen. Fillmore. Thebill changes the amount of the Centennial Scholarship and allows for a deferment. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB166 (1st sub.): School and Institutional Trust Fund Amendments changes the number of times the State Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) meets from nine to six. It passed the House unanimously.

HB132: School Bus Safety Requirements requires new school buses purchased after June 30, 2017, to be equipped with seat belts. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 30-40.


February 10, 2017

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Welcome to the Capitol! Several of the 30 educators, administrators and education support professionals attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill were participating for the first time. Many of the new participants traveled from Moab and met Thursday evening to discuss the lobbying process. Also represented were Weber, Davis, Granite, Salt Lake and Jordan School Districts, as well as UEA Retired and Utah School Employees Association.

During an early morning meeting, the UEA Legislative Team discussed key bills moving through the legislative process. UEA Policy and Research Director Jay Blain also shared an overview of the public education budget. The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee is wrapping up its work and appears to be moving toward a 2.5% WPU recommendation, with little left for other programs, he said.

The Team also shared some detail about Senate Bill 80. The bill would require that the legislature earmark an amount equal to one-third of any new WPU increase to a funding equalization program. Blain explained that the bill creates “winners” and “losers” with only a few districts benefiting. He shared a UEA Issue Brief explaining reasons why the UEA opposes the bill.

After lunch, Sen. Jerry Stevenson chair of the Executive Appropriations Committee shared details on the public education budget. About 50% of the state budget goes to public education and with higher education it equals about 66% of the budget, he said. There is about $325 million in new money available after adjusting budgets. Student growth and a 3% WPU increase would take nearly all of that, he said.

Rep. Derrin Owens, who is an educator in Juab School District, also visited. “I try to be a voice for you,” he told the educators. He encouraged everyone to keep building relationships with legislators, even after the session.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB209: Administration of Medication to Students Amendment passed the House unanimously. The bill allows for the administration of an opiate antagonist to a student.