Educators on the Hill making a difference – February 4

Today’s Top Hits—

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Welcome to the Capitol! Many of the 30+ educators and administrators attending UEA Educator Day on the Hill were participating for the first time. Represented were Alpine, Weber, Jordan, Davis, Uintah, Granite, Ogden and Salt Lake City School Districts, as well as Utah School Employees Association and Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

The UEA Legislative Team discussed key bills moving through the legislative process during an early morning meeting. Rep. Karen Peterson and Rep. Joel Briscoe stopped by to thank teachers. Rep. Peterson reassured those in attendance that many of the negative education bills being introduced do not have strong support in the House Republican Caucus.

At a lunchtime debriefing session, many of the attendees reported on their interactions with legislators and their experiences. Conversations shared with legislators covered a variety of topics including education funding, special education, need for additional time and so-called ‘transparency’ bills (for a chuckle about the transparency issue, see today’s Pat Bagley cartoon).

New Utah National Board Certified Teachers were introduced on the floor of the House and Senate.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee continued to hear reports in preparation for recommending a budget to the Executive Appropriations Committee:

Other items of note:

  • A DRAFT motion sheet was presented to the subcommittee for review, these motions will be made in Tuesday’s meeting, they may change.
  • Federal Funds approval: any state agency must get approval for receiving and spending an amount of federal funds over 125% of the prior year’s appropriation.
  • Here are the current UNPRIORITIZED lists for requests for funding appropriations for the subcommittee:
    • Ongoing
    • One-time (includes the UEA’s request of $57.5 million for educator-directed time)

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The Senate Education Committee heard and unanimously passed two UEA-supported bills:

  • HB162: Period Products in Schools provides for free period products in certain restrooms in schools. Private donations will provide for the dispensers and the legislative appropriation will provide for the products. Two female students gave testimony about why this bill is important to them.
  • HB184: Teacher Professional Development Amendments changes the amount of notice an LEA must give in converting student attendance days to teacher development days to 14.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB59 (4th sub.): Tax Amendments reduces the income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85%. The Committee adopted a substitute bill that removes personal property exemption and adds the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Social Security tax increase. The bill’s sponsor called it “a conservative tax cut.” It passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.


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:

Teachers Unite!

Submitted by UEA Advanced Policy Ambassador Tina Martin, math teacher at Margaret L. Hopkin Middle School in the Grand County School District

“…Once again seeing our UEA Legislative Team in action and the very real difference they make for us as educators is inspiring. It was a full day with coffee in the morning on the way to the Capitol at 6:30 a.m., finishing with lunch and a debrief at 2 p.m. with our Grand County team. This was truly a memorable day, and one that I could walk away from knowing I participated in the good fight for protecting education.”


Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Davis EA President Denise Wilmore met with House Speaker Brad Wilson.

Three UEA-tracked bills are on the House Education Committee agenda at 3:40 p.m., Feb. 7:

  • HB294: Charter School Admissions Amendments allows a charter school to give enrollment preference to an individual whose sibling is currently enrolled in a charter school and, for the 2022-23 school year, a student who withdrew from the charter school to attend an online school or home school due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • HB265: Charter School Agreements and Renewals requires the State Board of Education to make rules regarding requirements for charter authorizers and charter agreements.
  • 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.