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UEA Report on the 2018 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK SIX: 

2018 LEGISLATURE WEEK SIX SUMMARY: February 26-March 2


The Cat in the Hat was recognized in
the House and Senate as part of
NEA’s Read Across America day
.

At the end of WEEK SIX, the UEA was tracking 100 education-related bills. In all, there have been 809 bills and resolutions introduced and 248 bills and resolutions passed by Legislature. Bills of interest on the move this week included proposals to equalize school funding, to allow teachers to re-hire after only 60 days of retirement, to increase salaries for special education teachers and to hire additional elementary school counselors. About 60 teachers joined the Cat in the Hat on the Hill in celebrating NEA’s Read Across America Day.

New participation record for Educator Day on the Hill

More than 60 educators from 15 school districts, in addition to representatives from the Utah School Employees Association and UEA-Retired, participated in the final UEA Educator Day on the Hill for 2018. In all, more than 400 educators attended Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2018, more than in any other year.

March 2 was also NEA’s Read Across America Day celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The UEA sponsored a visit to the Capitol by The Cat in the Hat where the famous Seuss character was recognized on the House and Senate floor. Some of the teachers also had the opportunity to helped with refreshments provided by the UEA in the House and Senate break rooms.


Competing property tax equalization proposals


As always, educators shared classroom
stories with legislators.

A bill to equalize statewide school funding inequities created by disparate property tax revenues (HB293) narrowly passed a House committee. The bill equalizes property tax funding using new property tax revenue. The UEA supports this bill over another bill in the legislative process (SB145) that attempts to equalize property tax by taking money from the Education Fund.

To create the new revenue, the bill sets a floor for the basic rate at .0016 and the current rate will be set at .001496 to raise the money to provide more guarantees. Districts have to levy a board and/or voted levy to get a guarantee. The basic levy is a third of where it was in the 1980’s. A $250,000 home will have about $14 more in taxes per year, according to the bill’s sponsor.

Teachers may rehire 60 days after retirement under bill

School districts may have the option to rehire a retired school employee after only 60-days under a bill (HB467) that passed a committee this week. The bill gives school districts the option to pay a surcharge to cover the actuarial cost of rehiring a retired school employee after only a 60-day waiting period from retirement. Re-employment must be at a different entity than the one from which the employee retired. A similar bill (SB95) is being considered in the Senate.


Giving a salary bump to Special Ed teachers


A proposal to add special education teachers to the salary supplement currently received by math and science teachers passed a committee and will now be considered by the House. HB233 adds about 1,500 special education teachers to the Teacher Salary Supplement Program and increases the supplement from the current $4,100 to $5,000. However, the bill also removes the supplement from retirement calculations for teachers currently receiving the money as well as the special educators who would be added to the program. One significant change in the fourth substitute is that math and science teachers with certain endorsements would not be added to the program, as proposed in earlier versions of the bill.

Grant program to hire elementary school counselors


The UEA provided Cat in the Hat cookies
and other treats in the House and Senate.

A Senate committee also advanced a bill (HB264) creating a grant program to hire elementary school counselors or social workers. Under the proposal, up to 28 elementary schools could hire a counselor or social worker to provide targeted school-based mental health supports. The grant would be available to schools with a high percentage of students exhibiting risk factors for childhood trauma and schools with a high percentage of students experiencing intergenerational poverty. The UEA supports the bill because “this is such a vital and urgent need” in elementary schools, according to UEA President Heidi Matthews.


Cat seen roaming the Capitol – March 2, 2018


More than 400 educators participated in UEA Educator
Day on the Hill during 2018.

With just four days left in the 2018 General Legislative Session, the number of bills tracked by the UEAthat potentially impact educators increased to 100. About 60 teachers joined the Cat in the Hat on the Hill in celebrating NEA’s Read Across America Day.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): More than 60 educators from 15 school districts, in addition to representatives from the Utah School Employees Association and UEA-Retired, participated in the final UEA Educator Day on the Hill for 2018. In all, more than 400 educators attended Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2018, more than in any other year.

After a morning briefing, some of the teachers helped with refreshments provided by the UEA in the House and Senate break rooms. Others met with legislators and participated in the lawmaking process. The Cat in the Hat was recognized in the House and Senate as part of NEA’s Read Across America day celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss.


The Cat in the Hat was recognized in
the House and Senate as part of
NEA’s Read Across America day
.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Just one bill was heard in the committee.
SJR16: Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Public Education Governance

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley):

HB225: Initiatives, Referenda, and Other Political Activities provides for the publication of a proposition information pamphlet to inform voters of arguments for and against proposed and pending local initiatives and enacts provisions for holding a public hearing to discuss and present arguments relating to a proposed or pending local initiative or referendum. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

SB153: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendmentspassed unanimously. It adds deafblindness to the scholarship qualifications and allows for leftover funding to be allocated to full-day pre-K.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley):

HB178 (1st sub.): Power of Attorney Amendments clarifies decisions related to a child’s education that can be delegated through power of attorney. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB237 (1st sub.): Concurrent Enrollment Enhancements creates a statewide standard for teachers of concurrent enrollment. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor. The UEA supports this bill.

SB173 (1st sub.): State Charter School Board Amendments requires the State Charter Board to add one member who has expertise in “personalized learning” and who “supports innovation in education.” According to the sponsor, the purpose of the bill is to try to improve outcomes for charter schools. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.

SB162 (2nd sub.): Intergenerational Poverty Matching -- Education Savings Plan modifies the Student Prosperity Savings Program which supports “economically disadvantaged” students access to higher education by removing age restrictions currently limiting the savings program to Utah students in grades 10-12. By removing these restrictions, the program becomes available to economically disadvantaged children under the age of 20 and provides $100,000 in matching funds. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


Teachers may rehire 60 days after retirement under bill – March 1, 2018


UEA Legislative Team members, like UEA President Heidi
Matthews and Director Sara Jones, are on the Hill every
day during the Legislative Session representing teachers.

A proposal to add special education teachers to the salary supplement currently received by math and science teachers passed a committee, although the stipend would not count toward retirement. School districts may have the option to rehire a retired school employee after only a 60-day waiting period under a bill that also passed a committee.

Senate Education Committee(reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-tracked bills passed the committee unanimously.

SB232: School Transportation Amendments was presented by Sen. David Hinkins. This bill provides additional funding for transportation for certain district schools and charter schools in rural areas. The cost is estimated to be about $4 million, although funding was not prioritized by the public education appropriations subcommittee.

HB233 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Revisions was presented by Rep. Val Potter. The bill adds about 1,500 special education teachers to the Teacher Salary Supplement Program and increases the supplement from the current $4,100 to $5,000. However, the bill also removes the supplement from retirement calculations for teachers currently receiving the money as well as the special educators who would be added to the program. One significant change in the fourth substitute is that math and science teachers with certain endorsements would not be added to the program, as proposed in earlier versions of the bill.

Committee members asked a number of questions about why the bill proposes to make the program no longer retirement eligible. Sen Hillyard said “I have real problems” with removing the retirement benefit for those already receiving the money. Rep. Potter stated that raising the annual supplement to $5,000 is designed to “soften the blow” of losing the retirement benefit. Sara Jones stated that the UEA opposes the bill because of the negative impact to life-time earnings through the loss of the retirement benefit.

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

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four bills of interest to the UEA passed the committee.

HB467: Educator Postretirement Reemployment Revisions gives school districts the option to pay a surcharge to cover the actuarial cost of rehiring a retired school employee after only a 60-day waiting period. The bill passed on a vote of 5-1.

SB127 (1st sub.): Reading Software Program Amendments eliminates public school usage requirements for early interactive reading software and authorizes the State Board of Education to acquire certain analytical software to facilitate administering the reading software program. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed out of committee unanimously.

SB176 (1st sub.): Student Internship Liability removes a distinction to broaden the class of student interns that the State Risk Fund covers. It passed unanimously.

SB179: Education Code Modifications is a cleanup bill that is part of recodification. It passed out of committee unanimously.

Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee (reported by Lisa Nentl-Bloom): The Committee heard UEA supported bill, HB132 (3rd sub.): Juvenile Justice ModificationsRep. Lowry Snow’s bill, and his bill last year, addresses the school-to-prison pipeline by examining reasons students are referred to the juvenile system. This bill modifies provisions from his bill last year in response to school personnel, expands the use of appropriations for at-risk students, and other issues. This bill passed out of the Committee and now goes to the full Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Two bills of interest to UEA passed the House.

HB286 (1st sub.): Reproductive Education Amendments amends and enacts provisions related to instruction in child sexual abuse prevention and reproductive health. It modifies instruction in health to include instruction in the harmful effects of pornography and refusal skills amends definitions for required parental consent. The bill passed on a vote of 66-5.

SB148: Public Education Enrollment Application Amendments allows for secondary schools to set policy for enrollment of out of boundary students based on “maintenance of comprehensive programs and efficient allocation of resources.” The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Just one bill on the UEA tracking sheet was heard in the Senate.

HB360: State Board of Education Finance Amendments exempts the State Board of Education from certain state budgetary requirements under certain circumstances. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor.


Slowing the flow from the Education Fund – February 28, 2018

A House committee passed a bill limiting the amount of funding that can flow from the Education Fund to higher education to 10 percent, allowing the other 90 percent to remain in K-12 education.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): After considerable debate, the committee forwarded a House bill to limit the amount of money flowing out of the Education Fund to higher education. Senate bills heard in the committee all passed unanimously.

HB388: K-12 Public Education Funding Allocation Assurance would limit the amount of the Education Fund going to higher education to 10 percent. It has a delayed implementation for one year. There was discussion about changing or eliminating the percentage. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. LaVar Christensen, noted that higher education has many more revenue sources than K-12, such as donations. It passed the committee on a vote of 7-2.

SB148: Public Education Enrollment Application Amendments allows secondary schools to close schools to open enrollment like elementary schools can. The bill passed unanimously. The UEA supports this bill.

SB117: Language Immersion Program Amendments ends the critical language program because it is no longer needed and allows for growth of the dual language immersion programs. Representatives from the Utah School Boards Association and the Canyons School District spoke in favor of the bill. It passed unanimously. The UEA supports this bill.

SB153: Carson Smith Scholarship Amendments passed unanimously. It adds deafblindness to the scholarship qualifications and allows for leftover funding to be allocated to full-day pre-K.

SB144: Local Funding of Education Technology would allow school districts to use revenue from debt service or a capital local levy to fund “technology programs or projects.” The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee (reported by Lisa Nentl-Bloom): The committee passed two bills of interest to UEA.

HB326: Intergenerational Poverty Initiative, by Rep. Ed Redd, establishes a pilot program to address intergenerational poverty. This bill allows counties in the pilot to utilize local strategies to address intergenerational poverty with a goal to reduce the number of families facing this struggle. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and will be sent to the Senate.

HB319: Early Care and Learning Coordination Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, deals with the topic of early childhood. Research demonstrates that there is a significant return on investment for every dollar spent on early education. However, there are duplicative services that occur in the early education area. This bill creates the Governor’s Early Childhood Commission and Advisory Council. The Council is charged with identifying opportunities for and barriers to collaboration and coordination among federally-funded and state-funded early education programs. The bill passed on a vote of 3-1 and will be sent to the Senate.

House Natural Resources Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB404 (1st sub.): Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Act creates the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office (advocacy office), with oversight by the state treasurer, to protect the interests of the current and future school and institutional trust lands beneficiaries. Bill sponsor Rep. Brad Last said this creates one office whose soles function which is to look out for the beneficiaries of the trust, the schoolchildren of Utah. The bill passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Four bills of interest to the UEA all passed the House unanimously.

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 must also pass to allow the change to be put to voters.

SB70 (1st sub.): Human Resource Requirements requires charter schools and local school 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. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

SB115 (1st sub.): Upstart Program Amendments permits the State Board of Education to issue a request for proposals and enter into a contract for a two-year pilot of a home-based educational technology program. It now goes to the Governor.

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. It now goes back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate unanimously and now go to the House for consideration.

SB198: Public School Disciplinary Action Amendments requires the State Board of Education to work with school districts, charter schools and law enforcement agencies to compile an annual report regarding disciplinary actions related to students and statewide information regarding the race, gender, age, and disability status of a minor or student involved in certain law enforcement and disciplinary actions.

SB207 (2nd sub.): Student Data Protection Amendments amends provisions related to student data protection.

SB194 (1st sub.): Early Literacy Program renames the K-3 Reading Improvement Program the Early Literacy Program. It amends requirements for a school district or charter school plan related to early literacy and provisions related to the consequences of a school district or charter school failing to meet a goal described in the school district or charter school's plan related to early literacy. The UEA supports this bill.

SB209 (2nd sub.): 529 Savings Plan Amendments permits the Utah Educational Savings Plan to use another related name for business and modifies the eligibility criteria for a beneficiary of the Student Prosperity Savings Program.


Bill helps economically disadvantaged with college expenses – February 27, 2018

A bill to support economically disadvantaged students with college expenses and one to change the makeup of the State Charter Board were introduced and passed committee votes. A water-down version of the oft-resurrected “super committee” bill finally passed the House.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Five bills all passed the committee unanimously and now move to the full Senate.

SB162: Intergenerational Poverty Matching -- Education Savings Plan was presented by Sen. Evan Vickers. The bill modifies the Student Prosperity Savings Program which supports “economically disadvantaged” students access to higher education by removing age restrictions currently limiting the savings program to Utah students in grades 10-12. By removing these restrictions, the program becomes available to economically disadvantaged children under the age of 20 and provides $100,000 in matching funds. The bill passed unanimously.

SB173 (1st sub.): State Charter School Board Amendments was presented by Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill requires the State Charter Board to add one member who has expertise in “personalized learning” and who “supports innovation in education.” Sen. Stephenson stated that “charter school scores on statewide tests are no better than districts” and it has been a “grave disappointment” that charter schools and students are not experiencing more success. The purpose of the bill is to try to improve outcomes for charter schools. The bill passed unanimously.

HB289: Public Education Exit SurveyHB308 (1st sub.): Telehealth Mental Health Pilot Program, and HB317: Special Education Amendments had all previously passed the House and are all supported by the UEA.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): A stripped-down bill to simplify voter registration was among several UEA-tracked bills that passed the House.

HB380 (1st sub.): Utah School Readiness Initiative Amendments passed on a vote of 59-10. As the title suggests, the bill amends provisions related to the School Readiness Initiative. The UEA supports this bill.

HR1 (1st sub.): House Resolution Urging Restorative Justice in Utah's Education Systemurges the use of restorative justice for disciplinary problems in Utah's education system. It passed the House on a vote of 48-22. The UEA supports this resolution. The UEA supports this bill. Because it is a House Resolution, this was its final vote and has been enrolled.

HB175 (4th sub.): Oversight Committee Creation is the bill that never dies. It has been brought back three times after dying in committee and on the House floor. It creates what’s been referred to as a “super committee” to oversee governmental entities with the ability to “initiate a committee study, investigation or audit.” Most every education organization, including the UEA, originally opposed the bill, however, changes in the new version made improvements. It passed the House on a vote of 44-29.

HB218 (5th sub.): Modifications to Election Law passed unanimously after it was stripped of provisions that would have created automatic voter registration when someone receives a driver's license, unless they opt-out. The bill still contains provisions that reinstitute election-day voter registration, simplify the driver-license registration process and mandates in-person voting centers in vote-by-mail counties. The UEA supports this bill.

HB277 (1st sub.): Nonrefundable Retirement Tax Credits repeals the requirement that certain retirees be born on or before a certain date to be eligible for a nonrefundable retirement tax credit. It passed the House on a vote of 58-11.

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

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

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

SB127 (1st sub.): Reading Software Program Amendments eliminates usage requirements for schools that use interactive software for early reading programs but also asks the State Board of Education to acquire analytical software to monitor, for an individual school, the use of interactive reading software and the impact on student performance. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB171: Intervention as a Matter of Right Amendments passed by a vote of 21-5. This bill gives the Utah Legislature an "unconditional" right to intervene in state lawsuits.


A second property tax equalization bill moves forward – February 26, 2018

A bill to equalize statewide school funding inequities created by disparate property tax revenues using new property tax funding narrowly passed a House committee. The UEA supports this bill over one that would take money from the Education Fund to equalize property tax funding. A Senate committee also advanced a bill creating a grant program to hire elementary school counselors or social workers.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB231: Charter School Funding Amendments was presented by Rep. Brad Last. The bill would not allow charters that go over their enrollment cap to receive additional funding until every school under their enrollment cap gets funded. Currently, when a charter school goes over its enrollment cap, every charter gets less funding. The bill passed unanimously.

HB264: Elementary School Counselor Program was presented by the Senate sponsor, Sen. Howard Stephenson. The bill creates a grant program for up to 28 elementary schools to hire a counselor or social worker to provide targeted school-based mental health supports. The grant would be available to schools with a high percentage of students exhibiting risk factors for childhood trauma and schools with a high percentage of students experiencing intergenerational poverty. UEA President Heidi Matthews testified to the committee that UEA supports the bill because “this is such a vital and urgent need” in elementary schools. Representatives from Utah PTA and Utah school boards and superintendents associations also spoke in support. The bill passed unanimously.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four bills passed and advance to the full House, including a measure to equalize education funding with new property tax revenue.

HB408: Public Education Amendments creates the program Utah Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic Education (ULEADE). Representatives from the STEM Action Center and the Utah State Board of Education spoke in favor of the bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB0442 - Public Education Code Repeals repeals outdated sections of code, including the Parent Choice in Education Act, the Electronic High School Act, the Compact for Interstate Qualification of Education Personnel, and various other public education code provisions. It passed unanimously.

HB293: Education Funding Amendments was presented by Rep. Brad Last. The bill equalizes property tax funding using new property tax revenue. The UEA supports this bill over another bill in the legislative process (SB145) that attempts to equalize property tax by taking money from the Education Fund. Rep. Last said that because the state legislature has created the school districts, they need to solve the problem.

To create the new revenue, the bill sets a floor for the basic rate at .0016 and the current rate will be set at .001496 to raise the money to provide more guarantees. Districts have to levy a board and/or voted levy to get a guarantee. The basic levy is a third of where it was in the 1980’s. A $250,000 home will have about $14 more in taxes per year, according to Rep. Last.

Representatives from the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah School Superintendents Association, Salt Lake City School District Board of Education, the Salt Lake Chamber and the UEA all spoke in favor of the bill. A representative from the Utah Taxpayers Association spoke against the bill. After considerable discussion by members of the committee, it passed on avote of 7-5.

SB115 (1st sub.): Upstart Program Amendments permits the State Board of Education to issue a request for proposals and enter into a contract for a two-year pilot of a home-based educational technology program. It passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Just one UEA-tracked bill passed the House floor.

HB319: Early Care and Learning Coordination Amendments creates a commission in the Department of Workforce Services and an advisory council in the Department of Health. It narrowly passed the House on a vote of 38-32 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. The UEA supports this bill.