Committee votes unanimously to give educators ‘time’ – February 24

Supporting HB396 – Park City EA Co-President Jake Jobe, bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Moss, UEA President Heidi Matthews and Jordan EA President Kelly Giffen.

Some GOOD NEWS for education in today’s report:

  • The UEA’s proposal to give “time” to educators received a unanimous vote in the House Education Committee. HB396 provides flexible paid professional hours to licensed educators.
  • Pressure behind the scenes led Legislators to announce they will not pursue eliminating the constitutional earmark of income tax to fund education this session.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones):

  • It was a big day in House Education Committee! Jefferson Moss presented HB396: Paid Professional Hours for Educators which provides flexible “paid professional hours” to licensed educators, a key budget priority for UEA. Rep. Moss said the use of these paid hours is to be “driven from the teacher up” and is not for district-directed professional development. The bill requires that educators work together with their principal to create a plan for how they will use the paid hours and Rep Moss stated this plan should be able to be adapted throughout the school year. UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in strong support of the bill, thanking Rep. Moss for carrying this request for UEA. Two UEA local education association presidents, Kelly Giffen from Jordan and Jake Jobe from Park City, spoke in support and described the many ways educators could use the paid time to improve instruction. “We know you can’t create more hours in a day, but HB396 would begin to acknowledge the time we commit to the job we love so our students can learn and thrive everyday in Utah public schools. As a fourth-generation teacher, thank you for considering HB396,” said Jobe. Nearly all members of the House of Representatives (69 out of 75) have signed on as bill co-sponsors. The bill passed unanimously.
  • HB420: Title IX Reporting creates a requirement for schools to report the number of students participating in gender-designated sports as well as the amount of money spent on each sport. If data show more than a 10% discrepancy between male and female sports, then the school must create an action plan. The bill passed unanimously.
  • SB134 (3rd sub.): Special Education Amendments addresses the least restrictive environment and use of special education funding. The bill has changed significantly since first introduced based on language from the State Board. Granite Special Education Director Bryce Day, representing a coalition of special education directors, spoke against the bill and explained the history over the last few years by a few charter schools seeking more flexibility in use of special education funding. The bill narrowly passed out of committee with a vote of 7-5.
  • The meeting adjourned before a fourth bill on the agenda, HB374 (1st sub.): Sensitive Materials in Schools, could be heard. The UEA opposes this bill. It is now on tomorrow’s Committee agenda.

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

  • HB348 (1st sub.): Public Employees Retirement Amendments creates an exception to the separation period for retirees from a public employee system to be reemployed with a participating employer within the separation period without cancellation of the retirement allowance if the participating employer pays the amortization rate and a surcharge. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 49-26.
  • HB380: School Enrollment Amendments changes the enrollment window for students who are not within the school boundaries to begin two weeks earlier. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.
  • HB386: Education Innovation Program creates a process for an educator to propose an innovation program to their district for approval. The innovation program could include an alternative classroom schedule or alternative curriculum. The bill passed on a vote of 70-1.
  • HB274: Health Education Amendments requires the state board to develop age-appropriate health education curriculum addressing sexual violence behavior prevention education which would be subject to parental consent as with other sex education material. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 43-25.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB270: Parent Access to School Data Comparison requires the Utah State Board of Education to create an online tool to compare public schools in a specific geographic region to help facilitate a parent’s selection of public school options for their children. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature.


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 Legislative Team Members Sara Jones and Mike Kelley: Work behind the scenes led to the pause, at least for this session, of a proposal to eliminate the constitutional earmark of income tax to fund education. The proposal erupted late last week and had the support of key legislators but ultimately fizzled out. The UEA opposed this change without specific and detailed guarantees for education investments and because of the difficulty of finding the right solutions with only a few days left in the legislative session. The UEA remains committed to partnering with legislators to develop proposals that grow investments in education, provide educational equity for all students and make education a sustainable career.

Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner told reporters: “When we do this, we want to be right so we’ll go to work on it after the session. We have a responsibility to look at all the priorities and make sure we fund the highest priorities. At the same time, we know for all of us, all of our constituents, public education is critically important. We want to make sure we get this right.” (See more at Fox 13)

In a response to media, UEA President Heidi Matthews said: “The best budget decisions are made with thoughtful deliberation and input. We appreciate the legislature recognizing the final days of the legislative session do not provide sufficient time to accomplish a constitutional change of the magnitude proposed,” she said. “We look forward to continued conversations with legislators to ensure sustainable and growing long-term revenue to support the academic success of all Utah students.”


Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Two UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the Senate Education Committee at 8:30 a.m., Feb. 25:

A plethora of UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda for the House Education Committee at 4 p.m., Feb. 25: