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UEA Report on the 2018 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK FOUR: 

2018 LEGISLATURE WEEK FOUR SUMMARY: February 12-16


Educators from Duchesne Education Association met with
their representatives, including Sen. Van Tassell.

WEEK FOUR began with the
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommending a 3% WPU increase, well below the Governor’s 4% request and the 5.5% requested by the education community. The week ended with record participation at UEA Educator Day on the Hill. In between, the legislature passed a bill to shift educator licensing responsibilities to the State Board of Education. Bills to earmark funding for special education teachers and elementary school counselors passed committees.

Unveiled budget proposes 3% WPU increase

After deliberating for three weeks, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommended a 3% WPU increase, full funding of enrollment growth and paying for property tax equalization from the Education Fund. Total funding proposed by the subcommittee is about $157 million for the big items and about $40 million for the smaller items, for a total of about $197 million total ongoing. The budget recommendation was forwarded to the Executive Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Here are a few highlights:

Big items—

  • Enrollment growth: $33,488,500
  • WPU Increase (3%): $93,000,000
  • Equity Funding (SB145): $33,000,000

Smaller Items (all ongoing money, additional to current budgets)

  • Teacher Supplies: $500,000
  • CANVAS LMS (in conjunction with UETN): $1,900,000
  • Elementary Counseling (HB264): $2,100,000
  • Enhancement for At-Risk: $10,000,000
  • UPSTART (SB115): $1,000,000
  • Digital Teaching and Learning Expansion: $6,000,000
  • Special Education Intensive Services: $2,000,000
  • To and From Pupil Transportation: $4,500,000
  • Special Education Scholarships (Carson Smith expansion): $2,000,000
  • K-3 Reading Growth: $3,500,000

Record participation at Educator Day on the Hill


A record 120+ teachers filled two meeting rooms at the Utah
State Capitol for UEA Educator Day on the Hill.

More than 120 teachers from 15 school districts participated in UEA Educator Day on the Hill on Feb. 16, making it the largest in the five years since the event began. Participants met with legislators and to share their knowledge and classroom stories. The event kicked off the night prior when about 40 teachers met to learn about the legislative process during an EDOH+ meeting.

Teacher licensing responsibility clarified in new law

A measure to remove educator licensing requirements from statute, allowing the State Board of Education to make rules (HB46), passed both houses and was sent to the Governor for signature. The new law shifts full responsibility for teacher licensing to the Board.

Funding earmarks for Special Ed and Counselors move forward


Educators from Grand Education Association met with
their representatives, including Sen. David Hinkins.

An improved bill to provide bonus to special education teachers (HB233) passed a committee vote during the week, but the UEA remains concerned about cutting the added salary from retirement calculations. The version of bill passed by the committee includes supplemental pay of $5,000 for special education teachers. A bill to authorize targeted grants to assist at-risk school districts and charter schools with elementary school counselors (HB264) passed the full House and will now be considered by the Senate. The UEA supports the concepts of both these bills, but has concerns about the legislature mandating specific spending items rather than allowing local flexibility through an adequately funded WPU. Even if theses bills were to pass both houses, they may not be fully funded.

Equalization of school funding

Attempts to equalize property tax funding have been considered for several legislative sessions. A bill to create an equalization account using money from the Education Fund (SB145) passed a Senate committee. The UEA supports equitable local property tax funding to benefit all students throughout the state but not by diluting existing resources as this bill would. Another bill (HB293), would use new property tax revenue to solve what is clearly a property tax problem. HB293 has not yet had a public hearing.


Record number of teachers at EDOH – February 16, 2018


A record 120+ teachers filled two meeting rooms at the Utah
State Capitol for UEA Educator Day on the Hill.

More than 120 teachers from 15 school districts participated in UEA Educator Day on the Hill (EDOH) today! Participants had the opportunity to watch three UEA-tracked bills pass the House Education Committee.

House Education CommitteeHB360: State Board of Education Finance Amendments exempts the State Board of Education from certain state budgetary requirements under certain circumstances. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB380 (1st sub.): Utah School Readiness Initiative Amendments also passed unanimously. As the title suggests, the bill amends provisions related to the School Readiness Initiative.

HR1 (1st sub.): House Resolution Urging Restorative Justice in Utah's Education Systemencourages the State Board of Education and Utah's school districts to implement restorative justice programs in Utah's public primary and secondary schools. It passed the committee on a vote of 7-1. The UEA supports this resolution.


Educators from Grand Education Association met with
their representatives, including Sen. David Hinkins.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Roger Donohoe): Our fourthEducator Day on the Hill session of the year kicked off Thursday night as approximately 40 teachers met to learn about the legislative process during our EDOH+ meeting. Teachers received a brief explanation about what to expect and how the legislative process works.

Friday, EDOH turned out to be our largest ever and one of our most productive events to date. More than 120 teachers representing 15 school districts met together lobbying their legislators and working to have a positive effect on education in Utah. We were also joined by 60 students from Copper Hills High School. For the first time ever, we were forced to occupy two rooms at the State Capitol.

Many teachers and the students met and spoke with their representatives and senators. All left with positive feelings, many of which were expressed during our debriefing meetings over lunch. We enjoyed a visit from Rep. Steve Eliason who spoke about his elementary school counselor bill (HB264). Rep. Adam Robertson also stopped by, expressing his gratitude for teachers and offering his support where possible.

Our state representatives and senators often express their gratitude for teachers and are very positive and encouraging about the EDOH program.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Three bills tracked by the UEA passed the House and now move to the Senate:

HB228: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Amendments requires school districts and charter schools to provide certain child sexual abuse prevention training and instruction. It passed unanimously. The UEA supports this bill.

HB264: Elementary School Counselor Program authorizes targeted grants to assist at-risk school districts and charter schools with elementary school counselors. The UEA supports the concept of the bill and the need for additional school counselors, but has concerns about the legislature mandating specific spending items rather than allowing local flexibility through an adequately funded WPU. The bill passed on a vote of 59-11.

HB231: Charter School Funding Amendments will not allow charters who go over their cap to get additional Local Replacement Funding (LRF) until everyone under the cap gets funded. Currently, when a charter school goes over its cap, every charter school would get less in LRF. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Three bills tracked by the UEA passed the Senate unanimously and now go to the Governor for signature:

HB245: Charter School Proximity Amendments modifies provisions requiring a geographic enrollment preference for families residing “within” a two-mile radius of a charter school. The UEA supports this bill.

HB227: Minimum School Program Reporting Requirements eliminates certain reporting requirements for funds used to reduce class size. The UEA supports this bill.

HB230: Related to Basic School Programs Review allows the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to review line items in the Related-to-Basic part of the Minimum School Program every one to four years.


Educator licensing responsibility shifts to State Board – February 15, 2018

There was little public action today on public education bills. A measure to remove educator licensing requirements from statute, allowing the State Board of Education to make rules, passed the Senate and was sent to the Governor for signature.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley): Two UEA-tracked bills facing little opposition were heard in the Senate Education Committee today. Both passed unanimously.

SB176: High School Internships Liability removes a certain distinction to broaden the class of student interns that the State Risk Fund covers.

SB179: Education Code Modifications makes technical corrections to the public education code.

Senate FloorHB46 (1st sub): Educator Licensing Modifications eliminates current educator licensing requirements in state statute and allows the Utah State Board of Education to implement proposed revisions to the licensing structure. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor.


Stipend for special ed teachers passes committee – February 14, 2018

Today marks the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session. An improved bill to provide bonus to special education teachers passed a committee vote, but UEA remains concerned about cutting the salary from retirement.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SJR1: Joint Resolution Recognizing Educators of the Deaf and American Sign Language Instructors recognizes the efforts of educators of the deaf and American Sign Language instructors and highlights the contributions of American Sign Language to the culture of the state. The Committee passed the resolution unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate.

HB228: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training Amendments requires that, upon request, districts and charter schools provide evidence to the State Board of Education they have provided the training to their employees. It passed unanimously.

HB233 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Revisions expands the Teacher Salary Supplement to include special education teachers and broadens the eligible math and science teachers. The First Substitute bill includes the following changes:

  • Supplement will now be $5000
  • Will not be an increase every year
  • District match taken out

The UEA continues to have concerns about the bill, particularly the fact that the stipend is excluded from URS retirement calculations. Speaking to the bill, UEA President Heidi Matthews said the teacher shortage has reached crisis levels, especially in special education. While changes in the substitute bill are improvements, “we need to look more holistically a what solutions will keep special educators in the classroom,” she said. She encouraged the committee to take the time to explore long-term solutions to the teacher shortage crisis.

Other representatives on the committee agreed the bill is a “bandaid approach” to the problem. It passed on a vote of 7-2 and will now be considered by the full House. Even if the bill were to pass both houses, it’s high cost may not be funded.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Just one of UEA’s tracked bills was heard in the House today.

HB237: Concurrent Enrollment Enhancements creates a statewide standard for teachers of concurrent enrollment. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Two funding proposals passed the Senate and now move to the House.

SB122: Bond Elections Amendments provides that a local political subdivision may not receive from the issuance of certain bonds approved by the voters at an election, an aggregate amount that exceeds by a certain percentage the maximum principal amount stated in the bond proposition. It passed on a vote of 23-3.

SB76 (1st sub.): Commercial Property Tax Amendments provides for a property tax exemption for real property that is leased entirely to the state or a local government entity for the taxable year. Because this requires a change to the Utah Constitution, SJR2: Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Property Tax Exemptions allows that change to be put to voters. Both bills passed.


Just three bills on the move – February 13, 2018

Only three UEA-tracked bills moved through the legislative process today. Behind the scenes, however, the UEA Legislative Team continued discussions with legislators on hot issues and the public education budget.

Senate Education Committee: Two bills passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously today and now go to the full Senate.

HB234: Compulsory Education Revisions adds “a physical or mental” before the word “illness” in the definition of a “valid excuse” a parent can use.

HB236: Public Education Reference Check Amendments requires LEA’s to respond within 20 days to a reference check in certain circumstances.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): One bill that could impact school district finances passed the Senate.

SB132: Competency-based Education Amendments removes a cap limiting participation in a planning grant process to three LEAs in order to allow the Board flexibility to consider more grants to qualifying LEAs. The bill passed unanimously.


Unveiled budget proposes 3% WPU increase – February 12, 2018

After deliberating for three weeks, the Public Ed Appropriations Subcommittee recommended a 3% WPU increase, full funding of enrollment growth and paying for property tax equalization from the Education Fund. A bill to transfer $36 million from the Education Fund to property tax equalization passed a Senate committee.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee began by passing several budget change, fund change and regulatory motions. Subcommittee co-chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard then gave some background and presented the subcommittee’s priorities. Total funding proposed by the subcommittee is about $157 million for the big items and about $40 million for the smaller items, for a total of about $197 million total ongoing. Here are a few highlights:

Big items—

  • Enrollment growth: $33,488,500
  • WPU Increase (3%): $93,000,000
  • Equity Funding (SB145): $33,000,000

Smaller Items (all ongoing money, additional to current budgets)—

  • Teacher Supplies: $500,000
  • CANVAS LMS (in conjunction with UETN): $1,900,000
  • Elementary Counseling (HB264): $2,100,000
  • Enhancement for At-Risk: $10,000,000
  • UPSTART (SB115): $1,000,000
  • Digital Teaching and Learning Expansion: $6,000,000
  • Special Education Intensive Services: $2,000,000
  • To and From Pupil Transportation: $4,500,000
  • Special Education Scholarships (Carson Smith expansion): $2,000,000
  • K-3 Reading Growth: $3,500,000

View the full proposed budget. The budget recommendation now goes to the Executive Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two new Senate bills were discussed by the Senate Education Committee today.

SB145: School Funding Revisions was presented by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore. The issue of property tax equalization has been proposed for several legislative sessions. This bill funds a new equalization account using Education Fund monies, appropriating $36 million in ongoing money and requiring additional money be appropriated annually based on how much revenue is available for the WPU. The bill also appropriates money to increase funding for at-risk students, pupil transportation and necessarily existent small schools. The bill passed unanimously.

SB153: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments was presented by Sen. Brian Zender. The bill amends some provisions related to the scholarship. The bill passed unanimously.

Three bills which had previously been heard in House committees were also presented today.HB245HB230 and HB227 each passed unanimously and now move to the full Senate for consideration.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The House Education Committeeheard and passed five bills:

HB270: Teacher Employment Amendments requires the teacher credential database (currently CACTUS) allow an educator to work in more than one LEA. It was amended to have this functionality before July 1, 2020, to allow the state to do it while they update their systems and minimize costs. The bill passed unanimously.

HB308: Telehealth Mental Health Pilot Program requires the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to create a telehealth mental health pilot project grant program. Parents and superintendents spoke in support of the bill. It passed with one nay vote.

HB313 (1st sub.): Charter School Revisions lets charter school authorizers finalize school approvals, removing the State Board of Education from the approval process. It passed committee on a vote of 6-3.

HB317: Special Education Amendments amends various pieces of special education code to allow students to stay until the end of the school year when they turn 22. This a standardization of code as well. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB306: State Board of Education Revisions allows to the USBE to have their leadership elections on a two-year cycle. It passed unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Four bills being tracked by the UEA were discussed in the Senate today. Only one deals directly with education, while the others potentially impact the budget or participation in the election process. All four passed unanimously and now move to the House.

SB70: Human Resource Requirements requires charter schools and local districts to establish human resource management policies and ensure that at least one employee or another person is assigned human resource management duties and receives human resource management training. The UEA supports this bill.

SB72: Business Income Tax Modifications modifies the business income apportionment provisions.

SB74: Voter Privacy Amendments amends provisions related to a date of birth on a voter registration record.

SB101: Tax Amendments requires the county board of equalization to list separately a significant adjustment on an agenda for a public hearing and provide certain property information. The UEA supports this bill.