During the first House Education Committee meeting of the 2022 legislative session, three UEA-tracked bills were discussed and passed. UEA Legislative Team members worked behind the scenes to promote UEA budget priorities, including funding for educator-directed flexible preparation and collaboration time for all licensed educators.
House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three bills discussed and passed by the House Education Committee now go to the full House:
HB162: Period Products in Schools received extensive discussion. The bill addresses “period poverty” by requiring districts and charter schools to provide menstrual products free of charge in female or unisex restrooms. The bill appropriates about $4 million in one-time monies over two years and then requires schools to incorporate ongoing costs into their capital budgets by 2025. The bill also includes a donation of $2 million from private partners to install dispensing machines in schools.
UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in support of the bill. Matthews stated that “like many educators, I always had two drawers filled, one for food and one for period products [because students] are not fully engaged in school [if facing worry about a period]”. She went on to say that “I have spent so much money on period products [for students over the years]” and asked the committee to “fund what so many of our education professionals have been financing out of their pockets for years”. The bill passed unanimously.
HB103: Student Intervention Early Warning Program converts the student intervention early warning pilot program into an ongoing program. The UEA supports this bill.
HB184: Teacher Professional Development Amendments amends a notice requirement for a reallocation of instructional hours or school days for teacher preparation time or teacher professional development. Several superintendents testified in favor of the bill. “When you give time to teachers, you are investing in the quality of student instruction,” said Jordan School District Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 5-3.
Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee heard several program budget presentations and requests:
- Legislative Analyst Emily Willis provided a presentation on fine arts outreach.
- Several Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools (POPS) providers presented information about their arts programs, specifically about how the adapted during the pandemic.
- Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) gave their budget request presentation. It includes a request for a 4.13% salary increase for their educators.
- A ESSER funding update was given by USBE personnel, including examples of uses for this funding.
- Legislative staff provided a budget review for the Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP) and USBE gave an update on the SOEP.
Your UEA Legislative Team is on the Hill every day, working behind the scenes to represent educators. Here are some insights:
Reported by Legislative Team Member Jay Blain: I briefly met with Rep. Karen Kwan who is the minority whip in the House. I thanked her for the House Democrats’ support last week on the COVID bills. She said they are proud to stand with teachers and other education employees. We talked about upcoming issues and she invited UEA to come and speak the House Democrat caucus when we have the need to do so. Rep. Kwan also serves on Executive Appropriations Committee and the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, so we talked about the UEA budget priorities and she said she will do all she can to move them forward.
Reported by Legislative Team Member Chase Clyde: Jay Blain and I held a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers. Sen. Vickers indicated legislative leadership is committed to a significant WPU increase this Legislative Session. Jay and I shared UEA’s proposed budget line item (Request for Appropriation) for additional contract days for educators. These additional contract days would be educator directed, meaning the time can be used for any professional use and will be reported to the educator’s supervisor by the end of the fiscal year.