Bid to scrap vote by mail fails, bill targeting trans athletes moves forward – February 23

Representatives from the Utah Eagle Forum and Equality Utah lining up to oppose HB11.

In today’s report…

  • A committee rejected a measure to end vote by mail.
  • A committee narrowly approved the creation of a commission to determine if a trans athlete may participate in gender-designated sports.
  • The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved UEA-supported bills.
  • UEA President Heidi Matthews addresses a proposed constitutional change to education funding and provides insight into keeping bad bills at bay.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-tracked bills were heard in Senate Education committee and all passed unanimously:

House Government Operation Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB371: Voting Revisions was heard in the House Government Operations committee. The bill would eliminate automatic vote by mail in Utah. The UEA opposes the bill. It failed on a vote of 3-7.

Senate Business and Labor Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB11 (2nd sub.): Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities narrowly passed out of the Senate Business and Labor Committee on a vote of 4-3. The UEA, Equality Utah and the Utah Eagle forum all oppose the bill. It creates a commission to determine if a trans athlete may participate in a gender-designated interscholastic activity.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Two UEA-tracked bills passed the House:

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB114: Public School Curriculum Requirements was substituted in the Senate. The bill has received a lot of attention as one of several bills addressing “curriculum transparency.” It requires an “open process involving educators and parents of students enrolled in an LEA to review and recommend instructional materials for board approval” and that these recommendations be posted online, discussed and voted on in a public board meeting. The second substitute adds additional definitions of terms to distinguish between the materials a local school board adopts and the materials used by a teacher in the classroom, to clarify which apply to the adoption process. The UEA remains opposed to this legislation.


LegTeam Insights

Your UEA Legislative Team is on the Hill every day, working behind the scenes to represent educators. Here are some insights:

Reported by UEA President and Legislative Team Member Heidi Matthews: The fun never ends! As you may have seen in the media, some members of the legislature are interested in making changes to the constitutional guarantee for education funding (see The Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, KUTV-2, Fox13, KSL.com). This discussion is in early stages and, as of today, no bill language has been introduced.

Your UEA Legislative Team is meeting with key legislators to understand their goals for making these changes and to share our concerns. Relationships we have built with key legislators over many years assures that we have access and educator voices are heard as these issues are discussed.

As the Legislative Team meets with legislators, we continue to emphasize the impact, intended or unintended, of negative bills that distract from the positive work we are trying to accomplish for our state’s public schools. Fortunately, with the exception of HB331, the school voucher bill, none of these negative bills has passed out of committee. We also know that asking the education community to make a significant change in funding in just a few days is not the best way to make sound policy decisions with long-term implications.

How many days until March 4?!!


Policy Ambassador Messages

In 2022, 15 educators were selected as UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and agree to engage with legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission:

Our Strength Lies in the Passion that Binds Us

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Camille Lund, fifth-grade teacher at West Weber Elementary School in Weber School District

“…When I ask educators what inspired them to join this profession, I commonly hear that they wanted to make a difference–to do something that mattered. That passion is something that binds all of us working in this field. And it is something that makes us particularly capable of promoting change. We care about our students. We want to take pride in our profession as a means to change the world for the better. If we can harness this collective strength and put it to use by speaking up for our students, ourselves and our field, we can make the changes we all desire to make. All it takes is for us to take a step into the dark by speaking up, speaking out and taking a stand.”


Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Four UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the House Education Committee at 8 a.m., Feb. 24: