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UEA Report on the 2019 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK FIVE: 

2019 WEEK IN REVIEW: February 25-March 1


Teachers from Duchesne Education Association
met with their senator during UEA Educator
Day on the Hill March 1
An extensive tax reform proposal that would cut education funding by $300 million annually, passed a House committee during WEEK FIVE and has wide support from legislative leadership. Other bills moving forward included a scholarship program for students in education, funding for school-based mental health support and a measure to clarify contraception instruction.

More than 100 educators and education support professionals from a dozen school districts met with legislators and participated in Friday’s UEA Educator Day on the Hill. At 85, the number of bills the UEA is tracking at the end of WEEK FIVE was down some from previous years. The UEA was tracking 94 bills at the same time in 2017, 108 in 2017 and about 120 in 2016.

Sweeping tax proposal includes a $300 million cut to education

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee passed a massive tax overhaul bill that attempts to fix problems with Utah’s sales tax by lowering the rate and adding new taxes on many services. HB441: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act also reduces the income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.75%, effectively cutting the Education Fund by about $300 million each year. Representatives from travel, broadcasting, oil/gas, legal services and several other industries that would be taxed under the proposed tax changes spoke against the bill in the committee. Education groups, including the UEA, are also opposed. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

UEA-opposed bill to create redundant, prescriptive funding system passes the Senate


It was a full house March 1 at Educator Day on the Hill
An entirely new system to distribute funding directly to schools is created in a bill passed by the Senate. SB149 (1st sub.): Teacher and Student Success Act adds an entirely new public education funding distribution method to several existing systems. The bill establishes the Teacher and Student Success Account (TSSA) to fund the new distribution system and requires each school to create an “outcome-based program plan” to access the money. The UEA opposes the creation of this prescriptive, redundant distribution system (see the UEA SB149 Issue Brief for more information). The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

Bill offers support for student mental health

The House Education Committee forwarded a bill to the full House that would allow schools to hire additional mental-health support personnel including licensed counselors, psychologists, social workers and school nurses. HB373 (1st sub.) Student Support Amendments authorizes the State Board of Education to distribute money to districts and charters for personnel who provide this support. The bill’s funding, approximately $32 million, has been prioritized by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Scholarship program for students in education passes the House

A bill to provide scholarships for students for students pursuing teacher preparation in college passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration. HB188 (1st sub.): T.H. Bell Program Amendments would convert the current T.H. Bell Teaching Incentive Loan Program to a scholarship program, with a priority given to first-generation college students. The UEA supports this bill.

Other Bills of Interest: Bus seat belt bill fails, use of standardized test scores on student grades passes


Cat in the Hat was presented in the Senate
and the House on March 1 in celebration of
NEA Read Across America Day
HB168: School Bus Safety Requirements would require new buses to have three-point seat belts after 2020. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 23-50.

HB118: Incentives for Statewide Assessment Performance allows teachers to use statewide standardized tests to improve a student’s academic grade. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-9 and is on its way to the Governor for signature.

HB236 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments would allow teachers with endorsements receive a salary supplement if they teach in the area for 10 years. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB71 (1st sub.): Heath Education Amendments clarifies instruction in health education classes regarding contraception. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

NEA’s ‘Read Across America Day’ celebrated on the Hill

Friday marked yet another outstanding attendance at Educator Day on the Hill. More than 100 teachers from Grand County to Logan School Districts and everywhere in between came to share classroom experiences with their representatives. Participants included a group of education students from Westminster college.

A few participants had the opportunity to help hand out refreshments provided by the UEA to lawmakers in the House and Senate break rooms. The Cat in the Hat was also recognized in the House and Senate as part of NEA’s Read Across America Day recognizing the importance of reading in a child’s life.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ share lobbying experiences


Davis educator Bianca Mittendorf
is a 
2019 UEA Policy Ambassador
This year, seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here are this week’s articles submitted by these teacher ambassadors:

Staying Informed – by UEA Policy Ambassador Bianca Mittendorf, teacher at North Davis Jr. High School in Davis School District

This week, though I did not have a chance to go up to the Hill in person, I did stay informed by listening to audio recordings of the House Education Committee meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21. During this session, policymakers and advocates discussed numerous topics but those of interest to me were HB213: Promotion of Student Loan Forgiveness and HB273: Prohibition on School Fees for Curricular Activities. To begin, Rep. Susan Duckworth spoke about the need for…read the full article from Bianca Mittendorf

I’m Fighting for Their Public Education – by UEA Policy Ambassador Renee Pinkney, teacher at Park City High School

“Thank you Mrs. Pinkney for bringing us.” This is a comment made by one of my Park City High School students as we were walking out of the Utah State Capitol and down the stairs to our bus. I had decided that Educator Day on the Hill was a perfect learning opportunity for my AP U.S. Government students. Twenty-one kids took me up on the offer and we had a great day. Our day started at 9 a.m. on February 15 with a…read the full article from Renee Pinkney


Sweeping tax proposal that would cut Education Fund gets first committee hearing – March 1, 2019


It was a full house at Educator Day on the Hill
Educator Day on the Hill (reported by Mike Kelley): Another outstanding attendance at Educator Day on the Hill! More than 100 teachers from Grand County to Logan School Districts and everywhere in between came to share classroom experiences with their representatives. Participants this week also included representatives from the Utah School Employees Association, UEA-Retired and education students from Westminster college.

After a morning briefing, some of the teachers helped with refreshments provided by the UEA in the House and Senate break rooms. Others met with legislators and participated in the lawmaking process. The Cat in the Hat was recognized in the House and Senate as part ofNEA’s Read Across America day celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss.


Cat in the Hat was presented in the Senate and
the House as part of Read Across America Day
UEA Legislative Team members provided details about the lobbying process and issues of interest during an early morning meeting. Reps. Dan JohnsonSuzanne Harrison and Lawanna Shurtliff stopped by to thank the group for participating in the legislative process and answer questions.

During a lunchtime debrief, attendees shared the many experiences they had speaking with legislators. Several noted comments from their representatives that the new tax proposals are going to pass and there is little that can be done about it.


Teachers had the opportunity to provide snacks and
meet with House and Senate members in their chambers
House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB441: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Quinn, is a massive tax overhaul that attempts to fix problems with Utah’s sales tax by lowering the rate and adding new taxes on many services. The bill also reduces the income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.75%, which has the effect of cutting the Education Fund by about $300 million each year.

Representatives from travel, broadcasting, oil/gas and several other industries impacted by the sweeping tax changes spoke against the bill. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain spoke against cuts to the Education Fund proposed in the bill. He said the state should be investing in the economy and the future by investing in children.

The bill passed the committee on a vote of 12-2 and now goes to the full House for consideration.


Teachers from Duchesne Education Association
meet with their senator
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): The House passed two UEA-tracked bills that now go to the Senate for consideration.

HB236 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments would allow teachers with endorsements receive a salary supplement if they teach in the area for 10 years. It passed unanimously.

HB360: School Water Testing Requirements requires the Drinking Water Board to make administrative rules that create a program related to lead concentration in the drinking water of schools and child care centers and establishes a lead concentration level in drinking water at or above which schools and child care centers are required to undertake mitigation activities. There is a one-time $5 million appropriation from the General Fund. The bill passed on a vote of 47-17.


Students from Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind enjoyed meeting Cat in the Hat


Bus seat belt bill fails, use of standardized test scores on student grades passes – February 28, 2019

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB373 (1st sub.) Student Support Amendments authorizes the State Board of Education to distribute money to districts and charters for personnel who provide school-based mental health support. Qualifying personnel would be counselors, psychologists, social workers and school nurses all who would need to be licensed.  The money for this bill, approximately $32 million, has been prioritized by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. UEA Director of Education Excellence Sara Jones spoke in favor of the bill. She expressed support for the bill’s emphasis on trauma-informed care and student learning. It passed on a vote of 8-1 and now goes to the full House for consideration. 

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB168: School Bus Safety Requirements requires new buses to have three-point seat belts after 2020. The bill failed on a vote of 23-50.

HB344: Student Asthma Relief Amendments permits a school to make stock Albuterol available to certain employees for administering to certain students. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB303 (2nd sub.): School Community Council Amendments requires a school community council or charter trust land council to develop and incorporate certain safety principles, including coordination regarding the safety principles, with administrators and allows a school community council or charter trust land council to use a portion of School LAND Trust money to identify and incorporate certain safety principles at the school. The bill passed the House ona vote of 54-14.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB118: Incentives for Statewide Assessment Performance allows teachers to use statewide standardized tests to improve a student’s academic grade. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-9 and is on its way to the Governor for signature.

HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Commending Jordan School District on its Fleet of Natural Gas School Buses passed unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 28, 2019

This year, the UEA is trying something new at the legislature. Seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...


Davis educator Bianca Mittendorf
is a 
2019 UEA Policy Ambassador

Staying Informed

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Bianca Mittendorf, teacher at North Davis Jr. High School in Davis School District

This week, though I did not have a chance to go up to the Hill in person, I did stay informed by listening to audio recordings of the House Education Committeemeeting on Thursday, Feb. 21. During this session, policymakers and advocates discussed numerous topics but those of interest to me were HB213: Promotion of Student Loan Forgiveness and HB273: Prohibition on School Fees for Curricular Activities.

To sum up, there was a lot of action packed into the House Education Committee meeting on Feb. 21. I am glad that even though I could not be physically present, thanks to technology, I was still present in the democratic process and stayed informed of the discussion’s policymakers were having regarding matters that concern me.


UEA-opposed bill to create redundant, prescriptive funding system passes the Senate – February 27, 2019

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): Three UEA-tracked bills passed the House and now go to the Governor for signature.

SB61: Poll Hours for Early Voting removes the poll hour closing requirement on the last day of early voting. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

SB106 (1st sub.): Mental Health Services in Schools allows for an LEA that is already providing mental health services to students to bill to a private provider. The bill will provide more access to mental health services in rural areas. It passed the House on a vote of 66-4.

SCR3: Concurrent Resolution Regarding the Public Employees' Health Plans directs the Public Employees' Benefit and Insurance Program to offer certain benefits with respect to employee health benefit packages. It passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB149 (1st sub.): Teacher and Student Success Act adds an entirely new public education funding distribution method to several existing systems. The bill establishes the Teacher and Student Success Account (TSSA) to fund the new distribution system and requires each school to create an “outcome-based program plan” to access the money. The UEA opposes the creation of this prescriptive, redundant distribution system (see the UEA SB149 Issue Brief for more information). The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.

SB166: School Readiness Amendments is a comprehensive bill that address existing high-quality school readiness programs and creates a School Readiness Board to provide direction to state pre-school activities. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


Measure to clarify contraception instruction passes the House unanimously – February 26, 2019

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB164: Student Data Privacy Amendments passed the committee unanimously. It amends provisions related to the State Board of Education sharing student data with the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities and repeals provisions related to the State Board of Education sharing student data with the State Board of Regents.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB236 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments would allow teachers with endorsements receive a salary supplement if they teach in the area for 10 years. It passed unanimously.

SB112: Public Education Information Systems Uniformity Act would begin the funding for a Student Information System for the Utah State Board of Education. This would form the base for a possible end-to-end system in the future. The bill passed unanimously.

HB363: School Transportation Amendments would change the calculation for determining eligibility for transportation. The bill’s sponsor characterizes this as a simple clean-up bill and wants to make the law consistent across districts. A motion to hold the bill passed unanimously.

HB360: School Water Testing Requirements requires the Drinking Water Board to make administrative rules that create a program related to lead concentration in the drinking water of schools and child care centers and establishes a lead concentration level in drinking water at or above which schools and child care centers are required to undertake mitigation activities. There is a one-time $5 million appropriation from the General Fund. Bill passed on a vote of 9-1.

SB115: High Need School Amendments brings first-year teachers to a high-need school to create lower class sizes for the cooperating teacher and the new teacher. It provides $500,000 for matching grants. This would fund an estimated 9 or 10 teachers. Utah State Board of Education and the Utah School Boards Association support the bill. It passed on a vote of 9-1.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB71 (1st sub.): Heath Education Amendments clarifies instruction in health education classes regarding contraception. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB227 (1st sub.): Utah Computer Science Grant Act establishes a grant program for schools to improve computer science course offerings and provide professional learning for educators. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB143: Public Education Vision Screening gives the Department of Health oversight over public education vision screening and requires school districts to conduct certain free vision screening clinics. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


Scholarship program for students in education passes the House – February 25, 2019

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB248: Education Fund Designation Ratio provides that no more than 20% of Education Fund revenue may be designated for higher education. The Utah State Board of Education supports the bill. The UEA supports the concept. A motion to hold the bill carried unanimously.

SB106 (1st sub.): Mental Health Services in Schools allows for an LEA that is already providing mental health services to students to bill to a private provider. The bill will provide more access to mental health services in rural areas. It passed unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB303 (1st sub.): School Community Council Amendments requires a school community council or charter trust land council to develop and incorporate certain safety principles, including coordination regarding the safety principles, with administrators and allows a school community council or charter trust land council to use a portion of School LAND Trust money to identify and incorporate certain safety principles at the school. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain spoke to the bill. He thanked the sponsor for listening to concerns and substituting the bill. The bill passed on a vote of 5-4 .

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB188 (1st sub.): T.H. Bell Program Amendments would convert the current T.H. Bell Teaching Incentive Loan Program to a scholarship program for students pursuing teacher preparation in college, with a priority given to first-generation college students. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB250: School Fee Revisions creates a process for local school boards to follow in establishing extracurricular school fees. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously.

HB286: Financial and Economic Literacy Education Amendments makes changes to the state program for financial literacy. It passed on a vote of 62-10 . The UEA supports this bill.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 25, 2019

This year, the UEA is trying something new at the legislature. Seven teachers volunteered to become UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA Educator Day on the Hill, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is a new submission...

I’m Fighting for Their Public Education

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Renee Pinkney, teacher at Park City High School

“Thank you Mrs. Pinkney for bringing us.” This is a comment made by one of my Park City High School students as we were walking out of the Utah State Capitol and down the stairs to our bus. I had decided that Educator Day on the Hill was a perfect learning opportunity for my AP U.S. Government students. Twenty-one kids took me up on the offer and we had a great day.

Our day started at 9 a.m. on February 15 with a tour provided by Capitol Tours. Did you know the Capitol Preservation Board has grants to pay for your bus? We visited the Gold Room, the Supreme Court, the Utah House and Senate and the Governor’s office. We learned about the magnificent art, architecture and history of the palatial building we were standing in.

As we were heading down to the basement to see the seismic base isolators, that were installed with the restoration project that started in 2004, we were greeted by none other than our own UEA President Heidi Matthews and Chase Clyde our UEA Director of Government Relations and Political Action. Most of the students remembered Heidi Matthews as their Treasure Mountain Jr. High librarian. She explained her role as the president of UEA and how important it is to fight for public education.