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UEA Report on the 2018 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK ONE: 

2018 WEEK IN REVIEW: January 22-26


Sen. Lyle Hillyard addressed teachers
at UEA Educator Day on the Hill

To start the 2018 Legislature’s first week, the Salt Lake Tribune gave an honorable mention to UEA President Heidi Matthews as one of Utah’s top “political power players.” What an honor! Legislators also passed public education “recodification” bills and the Senate chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee told teachers attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill he expects 50 percent of all new money to go to education.

Opening the Floodgates of Education Bills

On its first day, the 2018 legislature quickly passed four bills intended to reorganize and renumber certain provisions of the public education code. These bills have been likened to “cleaning out the closet,” bringing public education code current. This is important because legislators were waiting to publicly introduce education bills until these ‘recodification’ bills were passed and signed by the governor. Since then, a number of public education bills have been introduced each day (see the current UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet.).

New Legislators Sworn In

Also on the first day, the legislature swore in three new legislators appointed to fill remaining terms: Sen. Brian Zehnder replaced Brian Shiozawa, Rep. Adam Robertson replaced Dean Sanpei and Rep. Cheryl Acton replaced Adam Gardiner. Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser gave barely a mention to public education in opening remarks to their respective legislative bodies. Niederhauser called for tax reform by “broadening the base and lowering the rate” of Utah’s income tax.

Public Education Budget

Budget negotiations are in very early stages with the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing reports from various entities. The Subcommittee discussed HB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments, the primary funding bill for public education, which essentially sets the next year’s budget before any new money is considered. Any increases to the “base budget” are typically decided in a supplemental budget bill near the end of the session.

Educator Voices on the Hill


Granite Education Association President
Mike McDonough was among educators
attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill

About 30 educators from Cache, Weber, Granite, Logan, Jordan, Logan and Ogden School Districts – along with several UEA-Retired and UEA Student members and staff from the Utah School Employees Association – joined the UEA Legislative Team on Utah’s Capitol Hill for the year’s first UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Sen. Lyle Hillyard, Senate chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, shared some budget insights and told participants he anticipates about 50 percent of new money will be directed to education.

As a result of a survey conducted by UEA earlier in January, each of the 104 legislators on Capitol Hill will receive comments provided by educators who work in school districts they represent.

Looking Forward to Next Week

There was little public discussion on education bills the first week, but that should change quickly as the number of education bills grows each day. The UEA Legislative Team has its hands full reading and prioritizing each one, then working closely with sponsoring legislators to ensure they understand the needs of concerns of educators in crafting their bills.


Teachers school legislators – January 26, 2018


About 30 educators participated
in Educator Day on the Hill

About 30 educators joined the UEA Legislative Team on Capitol Hill, helping legislators understand public education policy decisions from a teacher’s perspective.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Educators from Cache, Weber, Granite, Logan, Jordan, Logan and Ogden – along with several UEA-Retired and Student members and staff from the Utah School Employees Association – joined the UEA Legislative Team on Utah’s Capitol Hill for the year’s first UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Starting at 7 a.m., the group first reviewed bills, the education budget and other current education issues.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, Senate chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, visited with the group to share insight into the budget process. Hillyard said he anticipates about 50 percent of new money will be directed to education. After meeting with legislators during scheduled floor time, participating educators shared their experiences.

Senate FloorSB87: School Security Locks passed the Senate unanimously. The bill removes certain restrictions from code to allow public schools the ability to secure schools during a lockdown.


‘Base’ budget discussed, enrollment growth to cost $33.5 million – January 25, 2018

With no education committee meetings held, little was publicly discussed about public education bills.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): There was a discussion about HB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments. This is the primary funding bill for public education and essentially sets the next year’s budget before any new money is considered. Any increases to the “base budget” are typically decided in a supplemental budget bill near the end of the session.

Several motions were made to amend the base budget bill. These motions passed the subcommittee unanimously.

The subcommittee then heard an overview of Utah State Board of Education (USBE) 2019 budget request. USBE staff provided more detailed explanations to the USBE budget requests. Legislative analyst Ben Leishman gave a report on Enrollment Growth & WPU Value Increase Estimates. Key takeaways from the report include an estimate of $33.5 million to cover growth in student enrollment and about $31 million for each 1 percent increase in the WPU.


Governor’s State of the State – January 24, 2018


Governor Gary Herbert
Photo: Steve Griffin | Deseret News

The list of public education bills available to view is growing each day, although few have received public debate. Governor Gary Herbert gave little mention to public education in his State of the State speech to legislators.

State of the State (reported by Mike Kelley): Governor Gary Herbert addressed Utahns from the House of Representatives, calling his report “more optimistic than ever.” His remarks contained many references to collaboration and working together to solve the state’s problems. He shared stories about private companies and individuals who stepped up to help one another. While Gov. Herbert provided very little in the way of specifics about public education, he made reference to his “budgetary and legislative priorities” listed on utah.gov/stateofthestate. His No. 1 priority is to “invest heavily in public and higher education,” according to the site.


50% of new money to education? – January 23, 2018

Hillyard, Lyle W. (R)

Public Ed Appropriations
Chair, Sen. Lyle Hillyard

The chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee says he anticipates about 50 percent of the available new money will go to K-12 public education.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): State Superintendent Syd Dixon provided a presentation on the Utah State Board of Education Planning Efforts. The presentation stated the Board’s purpose to “Create conditions for each student to achieve educational excellence.” It also included performance measures and the items needed to achieve the purpose. The Governor’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer then offered a presentation on the Governor’s Education Roadmap. Pyfer noted the Roadmap’s four major points: 1) ensure early learning; 2) strengthen and support educators; 3) ensure access and equity; and 4) complete certificates and degrees. She also explained the request for an at-risk add-on to the public education budget.

The Subcommittee also heard a Public Education Overview presentation of the STEM Action Center, a presentation from the State Board on Base Budget Performance Measures and performance measures for the 2018 Base Budget billSubcommittee Chair Sen. Lyle Hillyard said he anticipates about 50 percent of the available new money will go to K-12 public education.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SJR1: Joint Resolution Recognizing Educators of the Deaf and American Sign Language Instructors was presented by Sen. Jani Iwamoto. The resolution recognizes the efforts of Utah’s educators of the deaf and American Sign Language instructors in sharing American Sign Language with students and community members across the state. It passed unanimously with a favorable recommendation.

SB87: School Security Locks also passed unanimously. Sen. Todd Weiler said the concern is that current building and fire code prevent schools from being able to fully lockdown during an active shooter situation because code prevents installation of special locks on interior doors. The bill would “remove a legal barrier” to allow districts and charter schools to decide whether they want to install these locks but does not mandate that any school do so.


Education “recodification” bills pass – January 22, 2018

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser
Photo: Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune

Session Opening (reported by Mike Kelley): The first day of the 2018 Utah State Legislature began with ceremony and speeches and with three legislators new to their office. Transportation was a big topic for both Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser in opening remarks to their respective legislative bodies, with barely a mention to education. Pres. Niederhauser called for tax reform by “broadening the base and lowering the rate” of Utah’s income tax.

Three new lawmakers were appointed to fill vacancies and are beginning their first legislative session: Sen. Brian Zehnder replaced Brian Shiozawa, Rep. Adam Robertson replaced Dean Sanpei and Rep. Cheryl Acton replaced Adam Gardiner.

House and Senate (reported by Mike Kelley): Both the House and the Senate considered four bills intended to reorganize and renumber certain provisions of the public education code. These bills have been likened to “cleaning out the closet,” to bring public education code current. SB11: Public Education Recodification – Local AdministrationSB12: Public Education Recodification – Cross References and RepealsHB11: Public Education Recodification – Funding and HB10: Public Education Recodification – State Systemall passed both houses unanimously and were sent to the Governor for signature. This is important because legislators are holding public education bills from being introduced publicly until these recodification bills are passed.

See the 2018 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills being tracked by UEA.