With just three weeks left in the session, the pace of bills moving through committees quickened considerably. The private school voucher bill is on the agenda to be heard in committee tomorrow morning. A bill incentivizing school districts to create “innovative civics education programs” passed a House committee.
House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-tracked bills passed the House Education Committee this morning.
- HB114: School Nursing Services Amendments creates a requirement for districts and charter schools to reduce the student to school nurse ratio from the current 1:5,000 to 1:2,000 within four years. Sara Jones, UEA Government Relations Director, spoke in support of the bill saying it highlights the essential wrap around services provided by schools that are so critical to students and local communities. The bill passed on a vote of 7-4.
- HB273 (1st sub.): Civics Education Amendments creates a pilot program for districts and charter schools to adopt innovative civics education programs. There was extensive committee discussion because the public education budget committee prioritized $1.5 million for this program and the higher education budget committee prioritized $1.5 million to support a civics education institute at UVU which would develop K-12 model civics curriculum. The committee discussed whether the two initiatives should be coordinated before leaving committee. Ultimately, HB273 passed on a vote of 6-4.
- With only 5 minutes left in committee, HB315 was presented and passed unanimously with no discussion. HB315: Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program Amendments clarifies that special education teachers are eligible for the Effective Teachers in High Poverty Schools Incentive Program.
House Health and Human Services Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): One UEA-tracked bills was heard in this committee today.
- HB11 (2nd sub.): Student Eligibility in Interscholastic Activities passed out of committee on a vote of 6-3. The UEA remains opposed and feels the bill is unnecessary as USHAA policy already exists to address trans athlete participation in sports. Eagle forum and Equality Utah BOTH testified against the bill.
Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The committee heard two UEA-tracked bills.
- SB62 (1st sub.): Income Tax Rate Reduction was substituted to become amendments to the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program. It expands eligibility for the program to include siblings of scholarship students in addition to other changes, mostly at the request at the State Board of Education. Two committee members were concerned that the allowance for siblings could limit the ability of special need students to receive the scholarships. UEA Legislative Team member Jay Blain also spoke about opening up the bill to siblings but thanked the sponsor for the amendments that the USBE had requested. The bill passed on a vote of 4-3 and now goes to the full Senate.
- SB197: Public Education Funding Amendments amends provisions to ensure that any tax increment a school district dedicates to another entity or project is counted as the district’s locally generated revenue when computing the total amount of state funding contributed to assist a district in covering the cost of the district’s basic school program. Todd Hauber, business administrator from the Park City School District, gave several examples where school districts could be harmed by this bill. The meeting adjourned before taking a vote.
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Two UEA-supported bills passed the House unanimously and now go to the Senate for consideration:
- HB113: Funding for Students with Disabilities amends a formula for special education funding. This change is one of UEA’s budget priorities for this year.
- HB270: Parent Access to School Data Comparison requires the Utah State Board of Education to provide an online school comparison tool to facilitate parent access to compare school performance.
Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): One UEA-supported bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature:
- HB184: Teacher Professional Development Amendments changes the amount of notice a school district must give in converting student attendance days to teacher development days to 14.
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:
Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Alyse Hartley, social studies teacher at Wahlquist Jr High School in Weber School District
…Too often we see important legislation held up over political disagreements, representatives putting the needs and desires of the party above the interests and needs of those they are elected to serve. We the people, are left on the sidelines watching with frustration.
Since becoming a UEA Policy Ambassador, however, I have learned that it doesn’t have to be this way. I have had the opportunity to meet fellow educators and Policy Ambassadors. They have helped guide me and teach me how to get involved. I have learned how to track bills and be aware of what is going on during the legislative session. I have gained the courage to reach out to my representatives and have my voice be heard. I have learned how to make a difference and enact change in those areas I am most passionate about – education, supporting my colleagues, and helping my students succeed…
Upcoming Legislation to Watch
The private school voucher bill is on the agenda in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. HB331: Hope Scholarship Program creates a program sending taxpayer funding to private schools and homeschool pods with little accountability. See more and write your legislators here.
Also, four UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the Senate Education Committee at 8 a.m., Feb. 15:
- SB171: Behavioral Health Curriculum Program
- SB191: Utah Innovation Schools Initiative
- HB230 (2 sub.): Refugee and Immigrant Student Policies Amendments
- HB251: School Dropout Prevention Amendments
- See the 2022 UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet for the current bills tracked by UEA.
- View all legislative happenings at UEA Under the Dome.