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UEA Report on the 2017 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK FIVE: 

2017 LEGISLATURE WEEK FIVE SUMMARY: February 21-24

The UEA Legislative Team celebrated several wins during WEEK FIVE. A bill to eliminate school grades and replace it with a more robust school accountability system (HB241) passed the House. Also, a bill that would have negatively impacted educator due process rights (HB352) narrowly failed in a House committee.

While the legislature typically picks up steam as its final two weeks approach, Week Five saw just 32 education-related bills moving through the lawmaking process, roughly the same as the previous week. The number of bills UEA is tracking increased by 14 to 108, compared to about 120 at the same time last year. More than 70 educators and education support professionals from 10 school districts participated in Friday’s UEA Educator Day on the Hill.

Public Education Budget: There were no public discussions on the final public education budget, which is now in the hands of the Executive Appropriations Committee. Behind the scenes, however, there has been talk about using some of the nearly $100 million in additional tax revenue identified in updated quarterly estimates to increase the WPU beyond the 3% currently recommended. Speaking to teachers attending UEA’s Educator Day on the Hill, Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee member Rep. Steve Eliason said, “we better dang well get more than 3% on the WPU because it’s critical.”

Educator Day on the Hill: Nearly 70 educators and education support professionals gathered at this week’s UEA Educator Day On the Hill to talk to their legislators, attend committee meetings and learn more about the legislative process. Participants came from Nebo, Alpine, Davis, Jordan, Box Elder, Cache, Juab, Beaver and Granite School Districts, as well as, UEA Retired, the Utah School Employees Association and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Teachers who earned National Board Certification (NBCT) also participated in activities on the Hill.

Bills on the move this week
(For the current status on all bills of interest see the UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet)

HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state and amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires school districts to update definitions in policies related to bullying and implement a grievance procedure for employees experiencing abusive conduct by a parent or student. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools amends provisions related to the infliction of corporal punishment on a student, amends provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools and amends provisions related to a student who willfully defaces or otherwise injures school property. The bill passed the House on a vote of 74-1.

HB108 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments allows those with Level 4 endorsements in science, in addition to those with science degrees, to be eligible for a teacher salary supplement. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB119 (1st sub.): School Board Midterm Replacement Process creates a process for a local school board to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the school board after a local school board member resigns. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB125: Student Residency Amendments clarifies issues related to a student’s district of residence when a student is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB126: Student Plan for College and Career Readiness Revisions changes references for Student Education/Occupation Plan (SEOP) to “plan for college and career readiness” and Student Education Plan (SEP) to “individual learning plan,” to reflect current language. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously. It now goes to the Governor.

HB159 (1st sub.): Amendments to Voter Registration provides that an individual who applies for or renews a driver license or state identification card will be registered to vote unless the individual opts out. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 40-28 and now goes to the Senate.

HB168: Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools. Money for the program would primarily come from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), although the substitute bill allocates about $200,000 from the Education Fund. It also requires that the State Board of Education will develop entry and exit assessments for the enrichment program. The bill passed the House on a vote of 61-10.

HB209 (1st sub.): Administration of Medication to Students Amendment clarifies issues of immunity from liability when a student is administered a glucagon, seizure medication or an opioid antagonist. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB231: Educator Evaluation Amendments makes substantial changes to educator evaluation, removing many state requirements and giving much more flexibility to local districts. The bill eliminates expectations like a minimum of two evaluations a year for provisional teachers, the requirement that employees receive an orientation on the evaluation system, and specific remediation procedures for teachers who are not performing effectively. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HB241: School Accountability Amendments discontinues the practice of school grading and replaces it with a system of indicators developed by the Utah State Board of Education. The bill passed the House on a vote of 54-18 and now goes to the Senate. The UEA supports this bill.

HB255: Tax Increase Initiative Amendments passed the House on a vote of 55-13 and now goes to the Senate. The bill establishes requirements for providing certain information relating to the percentage of a proposed tax increase in the materials for any proposed ballot initiative. The UEA opposes this bill.

HB264: Utah Education Amendments requires the State Board of Education to work with the legislative auditor to review the effectiveness of education programs by November 30, 2018 and prepare and submit a revised 10-year plan to the Education Interim Committee by November 30, 2019. The bill passed the House on a vote of 60-6.

HB288 (1st sub.): School Sunscreen Provisions permits a student to carry and use sunscreen at a public school. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB292: Charter School Admission Amendments allows a charter school to give an enrollment preference to the sibling of an individual who was previously enrolled in the charter school. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

HB305: Utah Youth Sports Safety Policy would require a local school board or charter school governing board to employ a licensed athletic trainer at each public high school that has an athletic team. The House Education Committee voted to hold the bill.

HB346 (1st sub.): Suicide Prevention Programs amends and enacts provisions relating to suicide prevention programs. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

HB352: Public Education Employment Revisions would change how the educator professional practices commission (UPPAC) functions. There were extensive questions from the committee regarding potential unintended consequences. The UEA raised a number of significant concerns, including that this legislation would take USBE rules that were only recently adopted and have not yet been fully implemented and put them in state code. The bill failed in the House Education Committee on a vote of 4-6.

HB368: Related to Basic School Programs Review passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

HCR5 (1st sub.): Concurrent Resolution on Clean Fuel School Buses supports the dedication of a portion of the funds of the Volkswagen settlement for the replacement of old school buses with clean fuel buses. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. The bill passed the House on a vote of 46-28.

HJR8: Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators supports the retention of public educators by directing revenue generated after transfer of federal public lands to state ownership towards a fund to increase educator salaries. The UEA supports this resolution. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

SB40 (1st sub.): School Bus Inspection Revisions changes the frequency of required safety inspections for school buses. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

SB102: Utah Student Privacy Act requires an LEA to make a list of individuals authorized to access student records. In addition, LEA’s are to provide training to those individuals and certify that those individuals have received the training. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously.

SB117 (1st sub.): Higher Education Performance Funding enacts provisions related to performance funding for higher education institutions and applied technology colleges. The UEA opposes this bill because it represents an earmark on the Education Fund. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB127: State Board of Education Amendments includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit with independent procurement authority, removes State Board of Education employees from certain overtime provisions and exempts certain State Board of Education employees from career service provisions. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB141: Income Tax Amendments would increase thresholds for income tax at certain income levels, generating new income in the Education Fund. The bill failed in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 2-4.

SB148: School Leadership Task Force would create a legislative taskforce to study issues related to recruitment, retention, preparation and mentoring of effective school leaders. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB161 (1st sub.): Bullying and Hazing Amendments requires a school board to update its policy regarding bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation; requires employees, students and parents to sign a statement annually acknowledging understanding of the school board's policy; and requires training for school employees related to bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation. It passed the Senate on a vote of 27-1 and now goes to the House.

SB196: Health Education Amendments removes the prohibition of advocacy of homosexuality in health education and was amended to add a prohibition of premarital or extramarital sexual activity. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously as amended.

SB234: School Turnaround Amendments makes changes to the School Turnaround program. It allows for a three-year program with up to a two-year extension. The bill continues the current public-private partnership but also allows for contracted ‘specialists’ to help in specific areas. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.


February 21, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB234: School Turnaround Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Millner. The bill makes changes to the School Turnaround program. It allows for a three-year program with up to a two-year extension. The bill continues the current public-private partnership but also allows for contracted ‘specialists’ to help in specific areas. It allows the school to use some of the funds for teacher recruitment and retention but they must use matching funds. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB126: Student Plan for College and Career Readiness Revisions changes Student Education Occupation Plan (SEOP) to “Student Plan for College and Career Readiness” everywhere it appears in code. It also changes Student Education Plan (SEP) to Individual Learning Plan. The bill passed unanimously and was placed on the consent calendar. The UEA supports this bill.

SB196: Health Education Amendments removes the prohibition of advocacy of homosexuality in health education and was amended to add a prohibition of premarital or extramarital sexual activity. There was considerable discussion on the bill, all in support. Those speaking included representatives from Equality Utah, the Eagle Forum, Sutherland Institute and the Family Policy Research Center. The UEA also supports this bill. It passed unanimously as amended.

HJR8: Joint Resolution Supporting the Retention of Public Educators supports the retention of public educators by directing revenue generated after transfer of federal public lands to state ownership towards a fund to increase educator salaries. The UEA supports this resolution. It passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): HB231: Educator Evaluation Amendments was presented by Rep. Jefferson Moss. The bill makes substantial changes to educator evaluation, removing many state requirements and giving much more flexibility to local districts. Sara Jones, speaking on behalf of the UEA, raised a number of concerns.  The bill eliminates expectations like a minimum of two evaluations a year for provisional teachers, eliminating the requirement that employees receive an orientation on the evaluation system, and eliminating specific remediation procedures for teachers who are not performing effectively. She stated that these kinds of requirements should be maintained in state code so that every educator in every district has access to a fair and consistent evaluation process. The bill passed unanimously.

HB368: Related to Basic School Programs Review was presented by Rep. Justin Fawson. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB352: Public Education Employment Revisions was presented by Rep. Ken Ivory. The bill would change how the educator professional practices commission (UPPAC) functions. There were extensive questions from the committee regarding potential unintended consequences. Lisa Nentl-Bloom and Tracey Watson, both speaking on behalf of the UEA, raised a number of significant concerns, including that this legislation would take USBE rules that were only recently adopted and have not yet been fully implemented and put them in state code. The bill failed in committee on a vote of 4-6.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB92: Physical Restraint in Schools amends provisions related to the infliction of corporal punishment on a student amends provisions related to the use of physical restraint in schools and amends provisions related to a student who willfully defaces or otherwise injures school property. The bill passed the House on a vote of 74-1.


February 22, 2017

Senate Education Committee (reported by Mike Kelley): HB108 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments was presented by Sen. Evan Vickers. The bill allows those with Level 4 endorsements in science, in addition to those with science degrees, to be eligible for a teacher salary supplement. The bill passed unanimously.

HB292: Charter School Admission Amendments was presented by Rep. Justin Fawson. The bill allows a charter school to give an enrollment preference to the sibling of an individual who was previously enrolled in the charter school. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB141: Income Tax Amendments was presented by Sen. Jim Dabakis. This bill will increase thresholds for income tax at certain income levels, generating new income in the Education Fund. Sen. Dabakis began by saying that we haven’t been able to grow our way to increase education funding. When the flat tax was implemented, “we were promised an influx of millionaires and billionaires,” he said, but what really happened was a dramatic decrease in the Education Fund. “We are hemorrhaging teachers and (falling behind) in the marketplace of ideas. Let’s throw this out and let the (Senate) hear it,” he said. The bill failed on a party-line vote of 2-4.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB40 (1st sub.): School Bus Inspection Revisionschanges the frequency of required safety inspections for school buses. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB168: Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program would provide more extended-day kindergarten programs for high poverty schools. Money for the program would primarily come from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), although the substitute bill allocates about $200,000 from the Education Fund. It also requires that the State Board of Education will develop entry and exit assessments for the enrichment program. The bill passed the House on avote of 61-10.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB209 (1st sub.): Administration of Medication to Students Amendment clarifies issues of immunity from liability when a student is administered a glucagon, seizure medication or an opioid antagonist. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

SB127: State Board of Education Amendments includes the State Board of Education as an educational procurement unit with independent procurement authority, removes State Board of Education employees from certain overtime provisions and exempts certain State Board of Education employees from career service provisions. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB117 (1st sub.): Higher Education Performance Funding enacts provisions related to performance funding for higher education institutions and applied technology colleges. The UEA opposes this bill because it represents an earmark on the Education Fund. It passed the Senate unanimously.

SB148: School Leadership Task Force would create a legislative taskforce to study issues related to recruitment, retention, preparation and mentoring of effective school leaders. It passed the Senate unanimously.


February 23, 2017

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB102: Utah Student Privacy Actrequires an LEA to make a list of individuals are authorized to access student records. In addition, LEA’s are to provide training to those individuals and certify that those individuals have received the training. It also prohibits sharing of information from student records with those who aren’t authorized. In presenting the bill, Sen. Karen Mayne shared incidents that she has seen in schools, such as cumulative folders sitting in stacks in a school office by a secretary’s desk. The bill passed unanimously.

HB305: Utah Youth Sports Safety Policy was presented by Rep. Paul Ray. It would require a local school board or charter school governing board to employ a licensed athletic trainer at each public high school that has an athletic team. Rep. Ray cited an example of a high school soccer player with a severe concussion who was allowed to play. Members of the public who commented on the bill expressed appreciation and support for the legislation’s goals, but were concerned about implementation and financial impacts, especially in small and rural schools. The committee voted to hold the bill.

Another bill scheduled to be heard, SB80: School Funding Amendments, was pulled from the committee agenda at the last minute citing changes being proposed by the sponsor. The UEA opposes this bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Consideration of a Later School Day Start for High School encourages schools to adopt later start times for high school students. The bill passed the House on a vote of 46-28.

HB159 (1st sub.): Amendments to Voter Registration provides that an individual who applies for or renews a driver license or state identification card will be registered to vote unless the individual opts out. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 40-28 and now goes to the Senate.

HB346 (1st sub.): Suicide Prevention Programs amends and enacts provisions relating to suicide prevention programs. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB35: Minimum School Program Amendments amends provisions related to a local school board paying for a student to attend a school district outside of the state and amends provisions related to necessarily existent small schools. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB62: Educator Rights Amendments requires school districts to update definitions in policies related to bullying and implement a grievance procedure for employees experiencing abusive conduct by a parent or student. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB125: Student Residency Amendments clarifies issues related to a student’s district of residence when a student is receiving services from a health care facility or human services program. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HCR5 (1st sub.): Concurrent Resolution on Clean Fuel School Buses supports the dedication of a portion of the funds of the Volkswagen settlement for the replacement of old school buses with clean fuel buses. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.


February 24, 2017

Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Nearly 70 educators and education support professionals gathered at this week’s Educator Day on the Hill to talk to their legislators, attend committee meetings and learn more about the legislative process. Participants came from Nebo, Alpine, Davis, Jordan, Box Elder, Cache, Juab, Beaver and Granite School Districts, as well as,UEA Retired, the Utah School Employees Association and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Teachers who earned National Board Certification (NBCT) also participated in activities on the Hill.

During an early morning meeting, participants heard the UEA Legislative Team talk about important legislation. Following the meeting, they participated in committee meetings and met with their legislators. NBCT teachers were also recognized in the House and Senate.

In the afternoon, teachers reported back on what they heard from their representatives. Rep. Steve Eliason, who sits on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, stopped by and shared insights. He talked about providing ongoing money for teacher license fees and his school counselor bill (HB223). When asked about the budget, he talked about the $100 million in new money available in the budget and said, “we better dang well get more than 3% on the WPU because it’s critical.”

There is one more Educator Day on the Hill for this session on Friday, March 3, which will be combined with UEA’s Read Across America Event. The biggest push for legislation is during the last few days so it’s important for teachers to join the UEA Legislative Team and talk to their representatives and senators to help them understand the issues classroom teachers face.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB255: Tax Increase Initiative Amendments passed the House on a vote of 55-13 and now goes to the Senate. The bill establishes requirements for providing certain information relating to the percentage of a proposed tax increase in the materials for any proposed ballot initiative. The UEA opposes this bill.

HB241: School Accountability Amendments discontinues the practice of school grading and replaces it with a system of indicators developed by the Utah State Board of Education. The bill passed the House on a vote of 54-18 and now goes to the Senate. The UEA supports this bill.

HB264: Utah Education Amendments requires the State Board of Education to work with the legislative auditor to review the effectiveness of education programs by November 30, 2018 and prepare and submit a revised 10-year plan to the Education Interim Committee by November 30, 2019. The bill passed the House on a vote of 60-6.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB119 (1st sub.): School Board Midterm Replacement Process creates a process for a local school board to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the school board after a local school board member resigns. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB126: Student Plan for College and Career Readiness Revisions changes references for Student Education/Occupation Plan (SEOP) to “plan for college and career readiness” and Student Education Plan (SEP) to “individual learning plan,” to reflect current language. It passed the House unanimously. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

HB288 (1st sub.): School Sunscreen Provisions permits a student to carry and use sunscreen at a public school. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

SB161 (1st sub.): Bullying and Hazing Amendments requires a school board to update its policy regarding bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation; requires employees, students and parents to sign a statement annually acknowledging understanding of the school board's policy; and requires training for school employees related to bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing and retaliation. It passed the Senate on a vote of 27-1 and now goes to the House.