Five UEA-Supported Bills Advance on February 16

The House Education Committee met Thursday, February 16, and approved five bills UEA has been keeping an eye on during the session.

HJR 18 and HB 421 are companion bills sponsored by Rep. Jefferson Moss (R-Utah County) that raise the distribution rate from the school land trust to five percent. Implementation of the change is contingent on the passage of HJR 18 by the public in the 2024 election. UEA supports both bills.

Two student mental health bills were also approved. HB 411 (Student Behavioral Health Services Amendments) sponsored by Rep. Karen Peterson (R-Clinton) expands the list of qualifying behavioral support personnel LEAs can hire through an existing grant program. HB 403 (Student Mental Health Amendments) sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) addresses an existing mental health screening program for students. The screening is already optional for parents to decide whether to have their child participate. The bill continues to allow LEAs to not participate in the program but requires each LEA to make an actual determination on participation, rather than having only the interested LEAs opt-in. UEA supports both student mental health bills.

Finally, SB 55 (Public School Instructional Material) sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Fillmore (R-South Jordan) requires an LEA to follow an open process when adopting instructional materials and requires an LEA also adopt a “supplemental materials policy” to provide “flexible guidance” to educators on the selection of classroom materials. UEA is neutral on the bill and considers it a local issue.

Also on Thursday, HB 400 (School Absentee Amendments) sponsored by Rep. Dan Johnson (R-Logan) passed on the house floor, 54-16, and now moves to the Senate.  This bill is supported by UEA with the comment that it needs funding for the staffing required in the bill.  This bill implements recommendations from an absenteeism task force in which UEA participated.