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‘Time’ bill passes the House, ‘Sensitive Materials’ bill passes a committee – February 25

Gearing up for the last week of the session…lots of action today. Here are some highlights:

  • The UEA-initiated House Bill 396, which allocates $25 million for licensed educators to receive flexible, educator-directed paid hours for job-related duties performed outside of contract time, received a unanimous vote in the House and now goes to the Senate.
  • Another 50 educators spent the morning on the Hill during the final UEA Educator Day on the Hill of the 2022 Legislative Session.
  • A bill that would have expanded full-day kindergarten (HB193) was substituted with a version that essentially maintains the existing optional extended-day kindergarten program.
  • A bill prohibiting “sensitive materials” in a public school (HB374) passed a committee hearing after dozens of Utah Parents United and Utah Eagle Forum representatives commented in support.
  • The Senate passed a bill (SB62) expanding the Special Needs Scholarship voucher program to include siblings of scholarship students.

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): About 50 educators met early for the final Educator Day on the Hill of the 2022 Legislative Session. Participants came from Alpine, Jordan, Salt Lake, Davis, Granite, Weber, Tooele, Uintah, Washington County, San Juan, Ogden, Iron, South Summit, Sevier, Canyons School Districts and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. The group also included a contingent of Hope Street Teacher Fellows.

The participants heard about bills the UEA is watching and were encouraged to speak to their representatives and senators about those bills and the education budget. The Team explained House Bill 396, a bill brought to the legislature by the UEA. It provides flexible, educator-directed paid time to licensed educators for job-related duties performed outside of contract time.

During the morning briefing, several legislators, including Sen. David Hinkins, Sen. Kathleen Riebe, Rep. Joel Briscoe and Rep. Marsha Judkins, stopped by to thank educators and provide some insight on bills moving through the process.

In all, more than 250 educators attended the six attendance-restricted Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2022. As teachers participate in the legislative process, they gain greater understanding about the importance of being politically involved in order to protect public education and to advocate for students. Read about some of their experiences.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): With just one final House Education Committee scheduled before the session ends, today’s agenda was packed. All the passed bills now move to the full House:

  • HB374 (2nd sub.) Sensitive Materials in Schools, as substituted, defines certain instructional materials as sensitive materials and prohibits sensitive materials in a public school. It also requires the State Board of Education to, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, provide guidance and training to public schools on identifying sensitive material. Furthermore, it requires the State Board to report to the Education Interim Committee and the Government Operations Interim Committee on implementation and compliance with the certain provisions. There are exemptions for medical classes, health classes, family consumer sciences and other courses that the State Board designates. Utah Parents United and the Utah Eagle Forum were out in full force to support the bill. Questions were raised about such things as Shakespeare plays and other curriculum. It passed on a vote of 11-2. The UEA opposes this bill.
  • HB390 (1st sub.): Early College and Concurrent Enrollment Program Amendments allows LEAs to pay fees for AP tests and Concurrent Enrollment Programs. It passed unanimously.
  • HB481: Education Reporting Amendments modifies two reports: Digital Teaching and Learning and Early Learning. It passed unanimously.
  • HJR20: Joint Resolution Designating National Speech and Debate Education Day passed unanimously. The UEA supports this resolution.
  • HB417: Online Course Access Amendments requires the State Board of Education to use funds from an appropriation to the Statewide Online Education Program to pay an online course fee for a student attending a small school. It passed unanimously.
  • HB428 (2nd sub.): School Safety Amendments requires the State Board of Education to provide training on certain state and federal law. It also requires an LEA to review information on harassment and discrimination within the LEA, adopt a plan for harassment- and discrimination-free learning, and report on the plan. It also requires the state board and an LEA to report data on the demographics of a victim of bullying, hazing, cyber-bullying, or retaliation. The bill passed on a vote of 8-3.
  • HB475: Use of Public Education Stabilization Account One-time Funding appropriates $64 million for teacher flex hours, $50 million for small district capital project fund and limited to counties of the 4th, 5th, and 6th class, and provides a general distribution to LEA’s for capital and technology on a base-plus model. The bill could change as the budget evolves. It passed unanimously.
  • HB478: Minimum Basic Tax Rate Reduction removes two add-ons to the basic rate, one that funds property tax equalization and one that funds the Teacher and Student Success Account (Program). The sponsor called it a tax break on property tax. UEA Legislative Team member Jay Blain expressed gratitude for all the work that Rep. Brad Last has done and collaboration he has provide over the years. He asked what would happen to the Teacher and Student Success Account and the programs it provides in schools. The bill passed on a vote of 12-2.
  • HB366 (1st sub.): Education Sovereignty and Curriculum Transparency has completely changed from the original. It now requires local governing boards to continue and encourage methods to ensure curriculum transparency. The bill failed on a vote of 5-5.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): After passing successfully out of the House, HB193 (4th sub.): Full-day Kindergarten took a surprising turn in a Senate Education Committee hearing today. A substitute version of the bill was adopted, effectively gutting the bill. Rather than requiring school districts to adopt a full-day kindergarten option by 2025, this new version of the bill maintains the existing optional extended-day kindergarten program. We expect to see yet another substitute version when the bill is debated on the Senate floor, perhaps returning to something closer to the original. Stay tuned!

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The following UEA-tracked bills were heard in the House:

  • HB396: Paid Professional Hours for Educators allocates $25 million for licensed educators to receive flexible, educator-directed paid hours for job-related duties performed outside of contract time. The bill is a key budget priority for UEA. With nearly all members of the House of Representatives signed on as bill co-sponsors it was certain to pass, which it did unanimously. The bill is on Monday’s Senate Education Committee schedule.
  • SCR5: Concurrent Resolution Honoring 125th Anniversary of the National Parent Teacher Association passed unanimously and now goes to the governor.
  • 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 on a vote of 63-4.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The following UEA-tracked bills were heard in the Senate:

 

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

The final scheduled Senate Education Committee meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. The following UEA-tracked bills are on the agenda:

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