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UEA Report on the 2021 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK SIX:

2021 WEEK IN REVIEW: February 22-26

With just one week left in the 2021 General Legislative Session, the number of bills tracked by the UEA jumped from 67 at the end of WEEK FIVE to nearly 90 by the end of WEEK SIX. Bill highlights from the week included: legislation to force in-person instruction and to eliminate mask enforcement passed the Senate; a bill restricting sports participation by transgender youth stalled in a Senate committee; the House rejected legislation to require education in consent and sexual violence behavior prevention and a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis clears its first committee vote. Nearly 200 gathered at the Utah State Capitol to protest legislative overreach in forcing school district decisions.

Committee approves an additional $76.5 million in public education funding

The Executive Appropriations Committee approved $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time in additional new funding for education, beyond the $400 million already approved in the Base Budget. Highlights from the Public Education section include $7 million for Optional Enhanced Kindergarten, $900,000 for At-Risk WPU Add-on, $1.5 million for Pupil Transportation, $3.6 million for Small District Base Funding Bridge (helps replace admin. cost cut last year), and $9.2 million for Grow Your Own Teacher and Counselor Program. In addition, the committee approved language that would expand the use of the federal CARES Act money to include school facility repairs and improvements to reduce risk of virus transmission.

Capitol rally: Leave school opening decisions to districts

Nearly 200 red-clad and masked teachers, parents, students, school employees and other education supporters gathered on the Utah Capitol steps to express concerns about legislative overreach into locally elected school board decisions. Organized by the Salt Lake Education Association (SLEA), the gathering was in response to several legislative attempts at forcing school districts to implement in-person learning options.

SLEA President James Tobler began his comments by thanking legislators. “We very much appreciate getting the COVID vaccine early in the vaccine timeline. We appreciate and are excited by the significant increases in education funding,” he said. “This is a time to come together, work in unison to make the best of a very bad situation. That is why this squabble between the Utah Legislature and Salt Lake City School Board and District needs to stop.” In addition to Tobler, speakers at the event included teachers, a student, a bus driver and a parent.

Bill forcing schools to offer in-person instruction passes the Senate

After several changes to make the proposal more palatable with more legislators SB107 (4th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization now would implement thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that go into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation would require all school districts to offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. The bill passed the full Senate on a vote of 25-4 and the House Government Operations Committee on a vote of 8-2. It will now be considered by the full House. The UEA opposes this bill.

Mask enforcement bill moves to the House

SB187 (3rd sub): Local Education Agency Policies Amendments originally would have eliminated school district responsibly to enforce mask mandates. Substituted language has changed the bill considerably. SB187 now requires health departments to “consult” with school districts on health orders related to mask mandates. The bill provides that a public health order that directly affects a school district is unenforceable unless the issuing authority consults with the affected district before issuing the public health order. The UEA remains opposed to the substituted bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-11 and now goes to the House for consideration.

Bill to restrict sports participation by transgender youth stalls in committee

After a lengthy debate, a bill to restrict participation by transgender youth in girls’ sports failed to pass a Senate committee. HB302 (2nd sub.): Preserving Sports for Female Students requires public schools to designate athletic activities as either “boys”, “girls” or “coed” and prohibits male students at birth who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports. The UEA opposes this legislation because it would supersede existing UHSAA policy that already provides protection regarding transgender participation in sports. After lengthy discussion and public input, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee opted to adjourn rather than vote on the bill.

Other bills on the move during the week

Additional bill highlights from WEEK SIX: The House rejected legislation (HB177) to require education in consent and sexual violence behavior prevention. A bill to restore the MOST math and science program funding (HB340) passed a committee. A resolution (HJR13) declaring racism a public health crisis clears its first committee vote.

  • HB86: Social Security Tax Amendments enacts a tax credit for Social Security benefits included in federal adjusted gross income. The bill passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
  • HB124 (1st sub): Civics Education Amendments makes a one-word technical change to the required civics education exam. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB177 (4th sub): Health Education Amendments requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements that include instruction on consent and what does not constitute consent. The bill also includes curriculum on and sexual violence behavior prevention. It would be an opt-in choice for students. The UEA supports this bill. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 31-39.
  • HB182 (2nd sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies existing statute to identify the appropriate court of appeals for an educator who appeals a termination by a school district. The UEA brought this issue to the legislature. It was substituted in the Senate Education Committee to address concerns and passed the committee unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB233: Education Immunization Modifications primarily applies to higher education but also includes a provision that when public schools are offering in-person learning, a student’s vaccination status cannot prohibit them from choosing to attend in-person. The UEA opposes this bill because it usurps authority from the health department. It passed the Senate Education Committee with one no vote.
  • HB258 (2nd sub): Firearm Safety in Schools provides a pilot program for firearm safety for a semester elective course for high school students. The Senate Education Committee voted to move the agenda, essentially stopping progress on the bill.
  • HB300: Reporting Requirements for Local Education Agencies is one of several bills eliminating or reducing burdensome reporting requirements for LEAs. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB308: Covid-19 Vaccine Amendments prohibits a governmental entity from requiring that an individual receive a vaccine for COVID-19. It passed the House on a vote of 66-2.
  • HB323 (1st sub): High Poverty Schools Teacher Bonus Program Amendments makes technical provisions to allow the program to award bonuses this year using previous years of student testing data since statewide tests were not given in 2020. UEA continues to oppose this program because it bases a teacher bonus on a statewide standardized test score. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB338: School District Voter Eligibility Amendments allows local school boards to vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. The bill passed the House Political Subdivisions Committee on a vote of 6-4. UEA supports the bill.
  • HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program restores the Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program that was inadvertently removed from statute during a 2020 special session when the legislature cut some funding due to the impact of the pandemic. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and the full House on a vote of 64-10. The bill now goes to the Senate.
  • HB343: School Emergency Drills Amendments provides flexibility for schools during the 2021-22 school year only to choose whether to hold standard emergency drills or provide in-class instruction in lieu of a drill. The UEA supports this bill. It failed in the House on a vote of 32-39.
  • HB345: School Resource Officers Amendments requires enhanced training for resource officers to help stop the school to prison pipeline and clarifies requirements for the Memorandum of Understanding a school district enters in to with a law enforcement agency providing school resource officers. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now go to the full House for consideration.
  • HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments would require school districts to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 11-3 and the full House unanimously. It now goes to the Senate.
  • HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and the full House on a vote of 71-2.
  • HB378: Education Standards Review Committee Amendments allows USBE to appoint members to a standards review committee if the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are not able to make the appointments in a timely manner. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program would create a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and the full House on a vote of 72-1.
  • HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that is funded with $1 million in state monies and added to through a fee paid by charters. Money in the account may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes after the charter school liquidates all assets. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for parents and families. The UEA opposes the resolution because it ignores the importance of high educational standards and taxpayer accountability. It passed the Senate on a vote of 21-5.
  • HCR15: Concurrent Resolution Emphasizing the Importance of Civics Education recognizes the critical role of an engaged and informed citizenry and the importance of civics education. The resolution also encourages the creation of a broad-based and informal working group to review civics education. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now go to the full Senate.
  • HJR13: Joint Resolution Declaring Racism a Moral and Public Health Crisis affirms that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race persist. It also highlights racial disparities in health measures including COVID-19 risks and describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed. In addition, it declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis and expresses the Legislature's commitment to identify, abolish state policies that are discriminatory and identify actions that may be taken by the state to help mitigate the impacts of any discriminatory policies of the past. The UEA supports this resolution. It passed the House Health and Human Services unanimously and now goes to the full House.
  • SB92 (3rd sub): Elections Amendments provides that a regulated officeholder is not required to file a conflict-of-interest disclosure at the time of filing for reelection to office if the regulated officeholder already filed a disclosure earlier the same year and indicates that the disclosure is accurate and up-to-date. The second substitute of the bill initially failed in the House on a vote of 33-37 but the House voted to reconsider and replaced it with a third substitute.
  • SB115 (1st sub): Retirement System Transparency Amendments requires certain employers in the URS to disclose employee compensation through their website or the Utah Public Finance Website, if the employer is not currently required to disclose the information. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the House Business and Labor Committee on a vote of 9-1.
  • SB148 (2nd sub): Public Education Modifications requires a school district to provide parents with access to curriculum that the district uses for each grading period and to provide a student a grade or performance report for each course in which the student is enrolled that reflects the student's work, including the student's progress based on mastery during the grading period. It also requires a school district to provide a student enrolled in an online course and the student's parent with access to certain information. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now go to the full Senate.
  • SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility provides some flexibility regarding deadlines and funding restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the full Senate and the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the House.
  • SB184 (2nd sub): School Assessment and Accountability Amendments removes accountability requirements based on statewide standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year because standardized tests were not given in spring 2020. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate unanimously.
  • SB206: Tax Rate Amendments cuts the state income tax rate by 0.20%. While the percentage cut seems small, the impact on the budget would be a loss of more than $250 million from the Education Fund. The UEA opposes this cut. The bill passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 5-2 and now goes to the full Senate.
  • SB219: Truancy Enforcement Moratorium decriminalizes certain truancy violations until June 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 on families. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate unanimously and will now be considered by the House.
  • SB226 (1st sub): Online Education Program Revisions allows a certified online course provider that the State Board of Education approves to offer courses directly through the Statewide Online Education Program and establishes the requirements for the state board to approve certified online course providers. It also authorizes the state board to make rules related to approving certified online course providers and authorizes the state board to set fees to cover the costs of regulating certified online course providers. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-2 and now go to the full Senate.
  • SB234: Statewide Online Education Program Amendments will expand online education classes to include grades 7 and 8. The bill narrowly passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-2.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ share lobbying experiences

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here are excerpts from this week’s new submissions...

  • Should School Boards Decide If Masks are Necessary?by UEA Policy Ambassador Tony Zani, literacy coach at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City School District
    On February 18, I spoke to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee about Senate Bill 187. In this bill, a school district or charter school would only need to consult with the local health department before deciding whether or not to enforce mask mandates...As a teacher, I spoke against the bill. I expressed that the health department is best suited to make decisions about public health. We don’t let local school boards decide if teachers can smoke in school building. We don’t let local school boards waive requirements for cafeteria staff to wash their hands before serving food. We shouldn’t let local school boards waive mask requirements in schools during a public health crisis…read the full article from Tony Zani
  • Take the Next Step to Make Change Happenby UEA Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro, science teacher at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City School District

    Victoria Mauro (second from right) 
    This is my first year really being involved in the legislative session in a way that feels meaningful to me. Sure, I’ve been to the Hill before; I’ve brought students, joined UEA Educator Day on the Hill and marched with Utah teachers. But all those things still felt very removed from the people making policy decisions and passing education bills. Suffice to say, this year I was not yet feeling ready to contact my legislator. I wasn’t certain what to say, what to ask for, or if I even knew how to go about it. Instead, I took this time as a Policy Ambassador to study the legislative session and truly understand how educational policy gets made. My experience isn’t over yet, but I wanted to share some of my key learning moments…read the full article from Victoria Mauro
  • ‘Consent’ Bill Needs Our Supportby UEA Policy Ambassador Sarah Nichols, resource teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City School District
    …Many speakers from the community came out to show support for (House Bill 177), either in person or over Zoom. They told of their own harrowing experiences and how this bill could have helped them or their loved ones. Nicole Bedera shared her own research on consent cues in young men, in which she found that young men attributed consent to platonic interactions with women, including eye contact, dancing or engaging in conversation. Because young people do not understand what actually constitutes consent (a clear ‘yes’), they are left to use their limited experiences to make uninformed guesses on consent. Unfortunately, a wrong guess can mean a lifetime of trauma for another person. As a teacher, a mom and a survivor myself, I was moved to see so many people speak up about their experiences. I was impressed by how seriously our lawmakers are taking the need for this addition to our curriculum. Too many students lack the vocabulary and skills to navigate complex social situations, especially as they are entering the world of intimacy and sexuality…read the full article from Sarah Nichols


Committee approves an additional $76.5 million in public education funding – February 26, 2021

The Executive Appropriations Committee approved $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time in additional new funding for education, beyond the $400 million already approved in the Base Budget. The House rejected legislation (HB177) to require education in consent and sexual violence behavior prevention. The Senate passed a bill (SB187) that dictates when a school district can and cannot enforce mask wearing.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate Education Committee and now go to the full Senate:

SB234: Statewide Online Education Program Amendments was presented by Sen. Kirk Cullimore. The bill is one of several this session addressing SOEP which has been in place for about 10 years. SB234 will expand online education classes to include grades 7 and 8. The bill narrowly passed on a vote of 3-2. UEA has not yet taken a position on the bill.

HB233: Education Immunization Modifications was presented by Rep. Mark Strong. The bill primarily applies to higher education but also includes a provision that when public schools are offering in-person learning a student’s vaccination status cannot prohibit them from choosing to attend in-person. The UEA opposes this bill because it usurps authority from the health department. It passed with one no vote.

HB323 (1st sub): High Poverty Schools Teacher Bonus Program Amendments makes technical provisions to allow the program to award bonuses this year using previous years of student testing data since statewide tests were not given in 2020. UEA continues to oppose this program because it bases a teacher bonus on a statewide standardized test score. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB300: Reporting Requirements for Local Education Agencies is one of several bills eliminating or reducing burdensome reporting requirements for LEAs. UEA supports the bill. It passed unanimously.

House Education Committee: Three UEA-tracked and supported bills were heard in the committee. All passed unanimously and now go to the full House for consideration.

HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments was presented by Rep. Lowry Snow. The bill creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that is funded with $1 million in state monies and added to through a fee paid by charters. Money in the account may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes after the charter school liquidates all assets. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability.

HB378: Education Standards Review Committee Amendments allows USBE to appoint members to a standards review committee if the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are not able to make the appointments in a timely manner.

SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility provides some flexibility regarding deadlines and funding restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

House Business and Labor Committee (reported by Jay Blain): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. SB115 (1st sub): Retirement System Transparency Amendments requires certain employers in the URS to disclose employee compensation through their website or the Utah Public Finance Website, if the employer is not currently required to disclose the information. The bill was amended to have the deadline for the disclosure be June 30, 2022. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed on a vote of 9-1.

Executive Appropriations Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The committee approved a budget that includes $915 million in new statewide spending, $238 million ongoing and $677 million one-time. For public education the committee approved $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time. Here are some highlights from the Public Education section:

Ongoing funding—

  • Option Enhanced Kindergarten = $7 million
  • At-Risk WPU Add-on and Hold Harmless = $900,000
  • Pupil Transportation = $1.5 million

One-time funding—

  • Small District Base Funding Bridge = $3.6 million (helps replace admin. cost cut last year)
  • At-Risk WPU Add-on and Hold Harmless = $2.6 million
  • Pupil Transportation = $1 million
  • Grow Your Own Teacher and Counselor Program = $9.2 million

In addition, the committee approved the following language to expand the use of the federal CARES Act money:

  • Use of Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds – Senate Bill 1 Intent Language: Modify the intent language in Senate Bill 1, Public Education Base Budget Amendments to change the list of allowable uses from those outlined in Items 2, 9, 22, and 33 of Senate Bill 1 to the use of funds designated under section 313(d) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act for any activity listed in section 313(d) except for the following:
  • School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.
  • Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program restores the Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program that was inadvertently removed from statute during a 2020 special session when the legislature cut some funding due to the impact of the pandemic. A total of $4 million has been prioritized through the appropriations process to be restored to the program. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House on a vote of 64-10 and now goes to the Senate.

HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic. It passed on a vote of 71-2 and now goes to the Senate.

HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program would create a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House on a vote of 72-1.

HB177 (4th sub): Health Education Amendments requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements that include instruction on consent and what does not constitute consent. The bill also includes curriculum on and sexual violence behavior prevention. It would be an opt-in choice for students. The UEA supports this bill. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 31-39.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB184 (2nd sub): School Assessment and Accountability Amendments removes accountability requirements based on statewide standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year because standardized tests were not given in spring 2020. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.

SB219: Truancy Enforcement Moratorium decriminalizes certain truancy violations until June 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 on families. The bill passed unanimously and will now be considered by the House.

SB187 (3rd sub): Local Education Agency Policies Amendments requires health departments to consult with LEAs on health orders related to mask mandates. The bill provides that a public health order that directly affects an LEA is unenforceable unless the issuing authority consults with the affected LEA before issuing the public health order. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-11. It now goes to the House.

In Case You Missed It

The UEA Legislative Team provides a weekly Capitol Insights virtual update to UEA members each Thursday at 4:30 p.m.


A bill to restore math and science program funding is among legislation passing ed committee – February 25, 2021

A committee voted to restore funding for the MOST program, funding inadvertently eliminated last summer during COVID-related budget cuts. Other bills moving forward today would enhance training requirements for resource officers and require school districts to inspect school buses at the end of every route. A bill to undo the Count My Vote initiative failed in the Senate then was resurrected and passed second reading.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-supported bills were heard in the committee. All passed unanimously and now go to the full House for consideration.

HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. The bill restores the Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program that was inadvertently removed from statute during a 2020 special session when the legislature cut some funding due to the impact of the pandemic. A total of $4 million has been prioritized through the appropriations process to be restored to the program. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke in support of the bill saying “restoration of the MOST program and its affiliated funding is one of UEA’s legislative priorities this year.”

HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments was presented by Rep. Dan Johnson. The bill simply delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic.

HB345: School Resource Officers Amendments was presented by Rep. Sandra Hollins. The bill is a continuation of work begun by Rep. Hollins in 2016 when she passed legislation to require curriculum and training for resource officers to help stop the school to prison pipeline. This bill further enhances that required training and clarifies requirements for the Memorandum of Understanding a school district enters in to with a law enforcement agency providing school resource officers.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Two UEA-tracked bills were heard in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee:

SB0206 Tax Rate Amendments cuts the state income tax rate by 0.20%. While the percentage cut seems small, the impact on the budget would be a loss of more than $250 million from the Education Fund. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain testified against the bill saying that until public education is fully funded, such a drastic cut is just “a bridge too far” and too much of a tax cut for this budget. A representative from Voices for Utah Children also spoke against the bill citing research about the low tax burden in Utah. The bill passed on a vote of 5-2 and now goes to the full Senate.

HB86 Social Security Tax Amendments enacts a tax credit for Social Security benefits included in federal adjusted gross income. The bill passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments would require LEA’s to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for parents and families. The UEA opposes the resolution because it ignores the importance of high educational standards and taxpayer accountability. It passed the Senate on a vote of 21-5.

SB205: Election Process Amendments would allow political parties to prohibit signature gathering as a way to get on the ballot and require candidates to go through the caucus process. This circumvents the Count My Vote compromise reached several years ago. The UEA opposed this bill. On second reading, it failed in the Senate on a vote of 12-15 then was reconsidered and passed on a vote of 18-11Read more.

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Four UEA-tracked bills are scheduled for hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 8 a.m. Feb. 26:

Four UEA-tracked bills are scheduled for hearing in the House Education Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 26:


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 25, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

Should School Boards Decide If Masks are Necessary?

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Tony Zani, literacy coach at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City School District

On February 18, I spoke to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee about Senate Bill 187. In this bill, a school district or charter school would only need to consult with the local health department before deciding whether or not to enforce mask mandates.

...As a teacher, I spoke against the bill. I expressed that the health department is best suited to make decisions about public health. We don’t let local school boards decide if teachers can smoke in school building. We don’t let local school boards waive requirements for cafeteria staff to wash their hands before serving food. We shouldn’t let local school boards waive mask requirements in schools during a public health crisis…


Bill restricting sports participation by transgender youth stalls in committee – February 24, 2021

More than 100 Salt Lake City educators, students and parents gathered at the Capitol to tell the legislature to leave school opening decisions to districts. After a lengthy debate, a bill to restrict participation by transgender youth in girls’ sports failed to pass a Senate committee. A measure that would let local school boards vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections cleared a committee.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate Education Committee and now go to the full Senate. The committee voted to hold a fifth bill:

SB148: Public Education Modifications was presented by Rep. Keith Grover. He said this bill comes from his daughters and their experience with online learning. The bill requires a local education agency to provide parents with access to curriculum that the local education agency uses and for each grading period and to provide a student a grade or performance report for each course in which the student is enrolled that reflects the student's work, including the student's progress based on mastery during the grading period. It also requires a local education agency to provide a student enrolled in an online course and the student's parent with access to certain information. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

SB226 (1st sub): Online Education Program Revisions allows a certified online course provider that the State Board of Education approves to offer courses directly through the Statewide Online Education Program and establishes the requirements for the state board to approve certified online course providers. It also authorizes the state board to make rules related to approving certified online course providers and authorizes the state board to set fees to cover the costs of regulating certified online course providers. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 3-2.

HB258 (2nd sub): Firearm Safety in Schools provides for pilot program for firearm safety for a semester elective course for high school students. Several members of the public spoke against the bill, some indicating school districts already have the ability to offer this. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain said the legislature “would be flooded with new curriculum ideas if 104 legislators were to pass pilot programs.” He also asked about the discipline policies on facsimile weapons and bringing of those items on to school property. A motion to move the agenda passed with only one no vote.

HCR15: Concurrent Resolution Emphasizing the Importance of Civics Education recognizes the critical role of an engaged and informed citizenry and the importance of civics education. The resolution also encourages the creation of a broad-based and informal working group to review civics education. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB182 (2nd sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies existing statute to identify the appropriate court of appeals for an educator who appeals a termination by a school district. The UEA brought this issue to the legislature. It was substituted in the committee to address concerns and passed unanimously.

House Government Operations Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Just one bill was debated in the House Government Operations CommitteeSB107 (4th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization was presented by Sen. Todd Weiler. The bill implements thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that goes into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation would require all LEAs offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. UEA Policy Ambassador and Salt Lake Education Association member Shandre Call spoke against the bill, stating that “our biggest concern is the safety of our students and our safety” and that “our desire is for health and science to lead the way”. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones also spoke in opposition to the bill and against placing in statute specific requirements for in-person instruction, which “confuses, complicates and even prevents the ability to follow public health recommendations that may change over time.” The bill passed the committee on a vote of 8-2.

House Political Subdivisions Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB338: School District Voter Eligibility Amendments allows local school boards to vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. The bill was brought to Rep. Joel Briscoe by students who testified passionately. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 6-4. UEA supports the bill but was unable to testify due to time constraints on public comment.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB302 (2nd sub.): Preserving Sports for Female Students requires public schools to designate athletic activities as either “boys”, “girls” or “coed” and prohibits male students at birth who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports. The UEA opposes this legislation because it would supersede existing UHSAA policy that already provides protection regarding transgender participation in sports. After lengthy discussion and public input, the committee opted to adjourn rather than vote on the bill. 

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB92 (2nd sub): Elections Amendments provides that a regulated officeholder is not required to file a conflict-of-interest disclosure at the time of filing for reelection to office if the regulated officeholder already filed a disclosure earlier the same year and indicates that the disclosure is accurate and up-to-date. It failed in the House on a vote of 33-37.

Educators gather at the Capitol (reported by Mike Kelley): Dozens of red-clad and masked teachers, parents, students, school employees and other education supporters gathered on the Utah Capitol steps to express concerns about legislative overreach into locally elected school board decisions. Organized by the Salt Lake Education Association (SLEA), the gathering was in response to several legislative attempts at forcing school districts to implement in-person learning options.

SLEA President James Tobler began his comments by thanking legislators. “We very much appreciate getting the COVID vaccine early in the vaccine timeline. We appreciate and are excited by the significant increases in education funding. We appreciate the tireless work of many elected officials and in the health department to keep our schools and Utah residents safe during this pandemic,” he said.

“This is a time to come together, work in unison to make the best of a very bad situation. That is why this squabble between the Utah Legislature and Salt Lake City School Board and District needs to stop.” Tobler concluded by saying “we are here today because we don’t let poor behavior go unnoticed in our classrooms, we will not ignore poor behavior by our legislature.”

In addition to Tobler, speakers at the event included teachers, a student, a bus driver and a parent.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 24, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

Take the Next Step to Make Change Happen

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro, science teacher at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City School District


UEA 2021 Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro
(second from right)
 at the Utah State Capitol
in 
February 2020.
This is my first year really being involved in the legislative session in a way that feels meaningful to me. Sure, I’ve been to the Hill before; I’ve brought students, joined UEA Educator Day on the Hill and marched with Utah teachers. But all those things still felt very removed from the people making policy decisions and passing education bills. Suffice to say, this year I was not yet feeling ready to contact my legislator. I wasn’t certain what to say, what to ask for, or if I even knew how to go about it. Instead, I took this time as a Policy Ambassador to study the legislative session and truly understand how educational policy gets made. My experience isn’t over yet, but I wanted to share some of my key learning moments…


Resolution declaring racism a public health crisis clears committee – February 23, 2021

Dozens of supporters lined up (virtually) to speak in favor of a resolution to affirm that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race. The resolution also highlights racial disparities in health measures, including COVID-19 risks; describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed; and declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis. A bill to remove accountability requirements for the 2020-21 school year because standardized test were not given also passed a committee vote.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two UEA-tracked bills passed the House Education Committee and now go to the full House:

HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments was presented by Rep. Calvin Musselman. The bill would require LEA’s to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed on a vote of 11-3.

HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program was presented by Rep. Jefferson Moss. The bill would create a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke in support of the bill highlighting especially the goal to support rural communities and to diversify the workforce to better reflect Utah’s diverse communities. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Four UEA-tracked bills were heard in the Senate Education Committee:

SB184 (2nd sub): School Assessment and Accountability Amendments removes accountability requirements based on statewide standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year because standardized tests were not given in spring 2020. UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in support of the bill stating that “our students are experiencing a wide range of impacts” due to COVID-19 and it is appropriate to waive high stakes accountability requirements this year. The bill passed unanimously.

SB219: Truancy Enforcement Moratorium decriminalizes certain truancy violations until June 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 on families. UEA has not yet taken a position on the bill. The bill passed unanimously.

HB124 (1st sub): Civics Education Amendments makes a one-word technical change to the required civics education exam. UEA supports the bill and it passed unanimously.

HB182 (1st sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies the appeals process for an educator who has been terminated. This bill was brought to the legislature by the UEA. The bill was substituted on the House floor and passed the House unanimously. During Senate committee discussion it became clear that some school districts have concerns with the substitute bill so it was held in committee in order to resolve those concerns.

House Health and Human Services (reported by Jay Blain): HJR13: Joint Resolution Declaring Racism a Moral and Public Health Crisis affirms that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race persist. It also highlights racial disparities in health measures including COVID-19 risks and describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed. In addition, it declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis and expresses the Legislature's commitment to identify, abolish state policies that are discriminatory and identify actions that may be taken by the state to help mitigate the impacts of any discriminatory policies of the past.

The legislative sponsor, Rep. Sandra Hollins, said she brought this resolution from a constituent, Kilo Zamora, after concerns about the disparate effects on her district from COVID-19. Zamora is a leading consultant on this topic. When we address racism, we address health, he said. In this resolution we are asking for you to be in sync with all the major health organizations who have already done this.

Many spoke in favor of the resolution, including several medical professionals. UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in favor of the resolution detailing how the factors of systemic racism impact students’ health. The resolution passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

SB107: In-person Instruction Prioritization, a highlighted priority bill opposed by UEA, will be heard in the House Government Operations Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 24.

Five UEA-tracked are scheduled for hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 24:


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 23, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

‘Consent’ Bill Needs Our Support

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Sarah Nichols, resource teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City School District

…Many speakers from the community came out to show support for (House Bill 177), either in person or over Zoom. They told of their own harrowing experiences and how this bill could have helped them or their loved ones. Nicole Bedera shared her own research on consent cues in young men, in which she found that young men attributed consent to platonic interactions with women, including eye contact, dancing or engaging in conversation. Because young people do not understand what actually constitutes consent (a clear ‘yes’), they are left to use their limited experiences to make uninformed guesses on consent. Unfortunately, a wrong guess can mean a lifetime of trauma for another person.

As a teacher, a mom and a survivor myself, I was moved to see so many people speak up about their experiences. I was impressed by how seriously our lawmakers are taking the need for this addition to our curriculum. Too many students lack the vocabulary and skills to navigate complex social situations, especially as they are entering the world of intimacy and sexuality…


Bill forcing school districts to offer in-person instruction passes the Senate resoundingly – February 22, 2021

After several changes to make the proposal more palatable with more legislators, Senate Bill 107 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and now goes to the House. A measure to prohibit vaccine requirements passed the House and now goes to the Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB308: Covid-19 Vaccine Amendments prohibits a governmental entity from requiring that an individual receive a vaccine for COVID-19. It passed the House on a vote of 66-2.

HB343: School Emergency Drills Amendments provides flexibility for schools during the 2021-22 school year only to choose whether to hold standard emergency drills or provide in-class instruction in lieu of a drill. The UEA supports this bill. It failed in the House on a vote of 32-39.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley and Sara Jones): SB107 (4th sub): In-Person Instruction Prioritization passed the Senate on a vote of 25-4. If the bill also passes the House with a two-thirds majority vote, it will go into effect immediately upon signature by the governor. This means every LEA would be required to immediately begin offering in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. The bill also implements thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program which goes into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. Sen. Ann Millner stated that “we’ve had lots of consultation with superintendents…[they] are the ones that are the impetus for this bill”. However, when asked whether the Superintendents Association supports the current version of the bill Sen. Millner only said that they have been kept in the loop every step of the way. The bill will now be considered by the House.

SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility extends or provides flexibility regarding certain education deadlines and spending restrictions. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.