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UEA Report on the 2019 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK FOUR: 

2019 WEEK IN REVIEW: February 19-22


Grand County Education Association members met with
their representatives in front of House chambers
The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee made its final recommendation for education funding during WEEK FOUR. The recommendation included a 4% increase in the WPU, fully funding student enrollment growth and $32 million to hire more school counselors, psychologists and nurses. Lt. Governor Spencer Cox stopped by to welcome the nearly 100 participants at Educator Day on the Hill. Bills moving through the legislative process this week would implement a new private school voucher program, require school bus seat belts, provide new funding for high needs schools and more

Budget proposal adds 4% on the WPU

The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee made its final recommendation for education funding. The recommendation included a 4% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) and fully funding student enrollment growth. Other significant funding recommendations include:

  • $32 million to hire more school counselors, psychologists and nurses;
  • a $10 million increase to a program to support students at risk of academic failure;
  • nearly $9 million for a school readiness initiative;
  • about $5 million to expand the Teacher Salary Supplement Program; and
  • $35 million for the Teacher and Student Success Account (TSSA).

The proposed $35 million TSSA increase would be combined with an ongoing $65 million from last year and distributed through a new, highly prescriptive school improvement program tied to standardized test scores created by Senate Bill 149. The UEA recommends that such a significant new funding program be studied during the interim session (See UEA’s Issue Brief on SB149). All subcommittee recommendations will be considered by the Executive Appropriations Committee, with final funding decisions made in a few weeks.

New private school voucher bill passes Senate committee


Jordan educators met with Rep. Susan Pulsipher
They're back! SB177: Scholarships for Special Needs Students creates a new voucher program that would redirect public money to private schools. Sen. Lincoln Fillmore presented his bill in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (which he chairs) saying that this would augment the Carson Smith scholarship program and give parents more choice. The UEA opposes the bill. The bill quickly passed the Committee on a vote of 5-0 before Democratic senators had arrived. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

$96 million school safety bill moves to the Senate

HB120 (3rd sub.): Student and School Safety Assessment directs the State Board of Education to create a ‘Threat Assessment and Student Support Team’ and requires the Board to develop model policies and procedures for threat assessment. The current version of the bill allocates $30 million ongoing and $66 million one-time to the program. It also requires each public school to establish a school safety team to conduct a school climate survey and a plan. The UEA supports the premise of the bill but is requesting additional clarification on the scope and implementation. It passed the House on a vote of 45-27 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

School bus seat belts, additional $ for high needs schools, eliminating school fees and more

HB168: School Bus Safety Requirements requires new busses to have three-point seat belts after 2020. The bill passed the House Transportation Committee on a vote of 7-4 and now goes to the full House.

SB115 (1st sub): High-Needs Schools Amendments creates a matching grant program for districts to apply to hire a first-year educator in a high-needs elementary school, capping the teacher’s class size at 20 students. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.

HB273: School Fees Modifications would prohibit the charging of curricular fees. Most of those opposing the bill did so only because it included no replacement funding. A motion to hold the bill carried unanimously.

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 Education Committee on a vote of 4-2 and now goes to the full Senate.

HB71: Heath Education Amendments returned to House Education Committee after failing to receive enough votes to pass in a previous meeting. The bill clarifies instruction in health education classes regarding contraception. With the addition of an amendment, the bill passed unanimously and now goes to the full House for consideration.

Lt. Governor expresses his admiration for teachers during Educator Day on the Hill


Lt. Governor Spencer Cox thanked teachers for
their service during Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 22
It was a full house at UEA Educator Day on the Hill with nearly 100 educators and education support professionals participating from a dozen school districts, about half for the first time. Educators from Grand, Nebo, Weber, Washington County, Jordan and Alpine Education Associations also participated in a Thursday evening EDOH-plus training to learn more about the legislative process. Lt. Governor Spencer Cox made a special appearance and expressed his respect for teachers.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ share lobbying experiences

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:

I Have the Powerby UEA Policy Ambassador Joanna Pace, teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Provo School District

While I do not have the influence necessary to pull lawmakers to my classroom, I do have the power to go to them. This last week, I spent a day seeing a tiny fraction of the process and politics behind those laws that often seem out of touch with my reality. I met some representatives legislating for a better education world, and some who were happy to shake hands, smile and tell me more about their own agenda. My day up on the Hill reminded me that, for our legislators, education is just …read the full article from Joanna Pace


Park City educator Renee Pinkney (center),
pictured here with her students at the Utah
State Capitol, is a 
2019 UEA Policy Ambassador
Stronger Together!by UEA Policy Ambassador Renee Pinkney, teacher at Park City High School

Do you want to feel the power of unity? Do you believe that we are stronger together than we are alone? If you said ‘yes,’ sign up for an upcoming Educator Day on the Hill (EDOH)…I’ve experienced several days on the hill. I highly recommend it. The experience is energizing, life changing and enlightening. You have an opportunity to interact with teachers from across the state. You meet our UEA Legislative Team, UEA governance and our UEA staff who…read the full article from Renee Pinkney


New voucher bill passes Senate committee – February 22, 2019


First-time participants at Educator Day on the Hill raise their hands
Educator Day on the Hill(reported by Mike Kelley): It was a full house at UEA Educator Day on the Hill, with well over 100 educators and education support professionals participating from a dozen school districts. Nearly half were participating for the first time. Educators from Grand, Nebo, Weber, Washington County, Jordan and Alpine Education Associations also participated in a Thursday evening EDOH-plus training to learn more about the legislative process.


Lt. Governor Spencer Cox thanked teachers for
their service during Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 22
Friday morning’s briefing on education-related legislation and lobbying was abbreviated to allow everyone to attend 8 a.m. meetings of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee and House Transportation Committee where UEA-tracked bills were being presented (see below). Lt. Governor Spencer Cox attended the morning meeting and expressed his respect for teachers. Responding to a question about legislators visiting classrooms, Cox said he volunteers regularly. “I speak to groups of more than a thousand people nearly every day with no problem but standing in front of a group of 30 fourth-graders terrifies me.”

Rep. Adam RobertsonRep. Christine Watkins and Sen. Kathleen Riebe also stopped by to thank teachers and share information about proposals moving through the legislature. Rep. Robertson discussed his bill (HB273) to eliminate school fees.


Jordan educators met with Rep. Susan Pulsipher
Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain):SB177: Scholarships for Special Needs Students creates the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program and related income tax credits. Sen. Lincoln Fillmore presented the bill saying that this would augment the Carson Smith scholarship program and give parents more choice. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain testified against the bill saying that we need more funding for all of the special needs students in public education and that is accomplished through the basic school program. He added that this bill/program would not help students in rural areas because of the lack of private schools in those areas. The bill passed the Committee on a vote of 5-0 with only Republican senators present.

SB179: Truth in Taxation Amendments would prohibit a taxing entity from holding a truth in taxation hearing in conjunction with another meeting or on the same day as another meeting. The Utah Association of Special Districts and the League of Cities of Towns spoke against the bill. The Utah Taxpayers Association spoke in favor. UEA Research Director Jay Blain commented that this would negatively impact rural school districts and the bill sends a conflicting message to school districts when many legislators encourage districts to raise taxes then make it more difficult to do so. The bill passed the Committee on a vote of 5-1.


Grand County Education Association members met with
their representatives in front of House chambers
House Transportation Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB168: School Bus Safety Requirements was presented byRep. Craig Hall in the House Transportation Committee. This bill requires new busses to have three-point seat belts after 2020. The bill specifies that teachers, school staff, parents and volunteers are not required to ensure use or proper use of the seat belt. The bill also removes any liability by a passenger injured by the use or non-use of the seatbelt. Several legislators raised concerns about the cost to school districts. The Bill passed on a vote of 7-4.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB291: Concurrent Enrollment Modifications extends more time for higher education to comply with legislation from 2018 that required establishing uniform qualifications statewide for concurrent enrollment teachers. The bill ensures that anyone teaching concurrent enrollment during or prior to 2018-19 would continue to qualify to teach concurrent enrollment as higher education establishes consistent qualifications. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate. The UEA supports this bill.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB146: Concurrent Enrollment Amendments will allow ninth- and tenth-grade students to take concurrent enrollment credit. It passed the Senate on a vote of 27-1 and now goes to the Governor.

HCR14: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging High Expectations for Students with Disabilitiespassed unanimously. The UEA supports this resolution.

SB115 (1st sub): High-Needs Schools Amendments creates a matching grant program for districts to apply to hire a first-year educator in a high-needs elementary school, capping the teacher’s class size at 20 students. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


$96 million school safety bill passes the House – February 21, 2019

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB213 (1st sub.): Promotion of Student Loan Forgiveness instructs the Division of Antidiscrimination and Labor to develop and make publicly available informational materials that describe the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. The bill passed as substituted.

HB273: School Fees Modifications would prohibit the charging of curricular fees. The bill’s sponsor said the bill is an effort to return the constitutional basis of providing a free education. He said we have a moral obligation to give our future students a sound education. Several spoke against the bill, including UEA Director of Research Jay Blain, because the loss of funding with no replacement and the need to fund the WPU. A motion to hold the bill carried unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB120 (3rd sub.): Student and School Safety Assessment directs the State Board of Education to create a ‘Threat Assessment and Student Support Team’ and requires the Board to develop model policies and procedures for threat assessment. The current version of the bill allocates $30 million ongoing and $66 million one-time to the program. It also requires each public school to establish a school safety team to conduct a school climate survey and a plan. The UEA supports the premise of the bill, but would like additional clarification on the scope and implementation. It passed the House on a vote of 45-27 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB208: Safe Routes to School Program requires the Department of Transportation to establish a program to promote safe routes for walking and bicycling to schools. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 62-7 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB260 (3rd sub): Access Utah Promise Scholarship Program creates the Access Utah Promise Scholarship Program and amends and repeals certain other scholarship programs. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 69-3.

HJR18: Joint Rules Resolution on Base Budgeting Provisions requires every appropriations subcommittee to create a zero-based budget for a percentage of the subcommittee's budgets each interim. It passed the House unanimously.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 21, 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...


Provo educator Joanna Pace (left), met with her
representative during Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 15
I Have the Power


Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Joanna Pace, teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in Provo School District

While I do not have the influence necessary to pull lawmakers to my classroom, I do have the power to go to them. This last week, I spent a day seeing a tiny fraction of the process and politics behind those laws that often seem out of touch with my reality. I met some representatives legislating for a better education world, and some who were happy to shake hands, smile and tell me more about their own agenda. My day up on the Hill reminded me that, for our legislators, education is just a tiny portion of the many things on their long list of budget items.


Senate committee favors allowing teachers use statewide standardized tests on student grades – February 20, 2019

Senate Education Committee Meeting (reported by Sara Jones): Two Senate bills passed out of Senate Education Committee today. SB173: Dual Language Immersion Amendmentscreates a $100,000 pilot program for districts to provide online instruction for students who wish to enter a dual immersion language program as a late entrant. The bill passed unanimously. 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 bill passed unanimously.

Several House bills were also heard in the Committee. 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 on a vote of 4-2HB146: Concurrent Enrollment Amendments, allowing students in grades 9 and 10 to participate in concurrent enrollment classes, passed on a vote of 4-3HCR14: Concurrent Resolution Encouraging High Expectations for Students with Disabilities passed unanimously.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB48 (2nd sub.): School Trust Fund Modificationsamends provisions related to school and institutional trust fund management, advocacy and distribution of funds. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

SB55 (1st sub.): Charter Trust Land Council Amendments allows grandparents who sit on charter school boards to also sit on their School Trust Land councils if it preserves the two-parent majority. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 69-4.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB112: Public Education Information Systems Uniformity Act requires the State Board of Education to have a system for collecting and reporting public education data. The UEA supports using one-time money for this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 20, 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...

Stronger Together!

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


Park City educator Renee Pinkney (center),
pictured here with her students at the Utah
State Capitol, is a 
2019 UEA Policy Ambassador
Do you want to feel the power of unity? Do you believe that we are stronger together than we are alone? If you said ‘yes,’ sign up for an upcoming Educator Day on the Hill (EDOH). I’m Renee Pinkney, a UEA Policy Ambassador. I’ve experienced several days on the hill. I highly recommend it. The experience is energizing, life changing and enlightening.

You have an opportunity to interact with teachers from across the state. You meet our UEA Legislative Team, UEA governance and our UEA staff who work endless hours during the legislative session ensuring the promise of public education for our students and ourselves. UEA isn’t an abstract idea anymore. It is tangible.


New life for sex ed bill – February 19, 2019

House Education Committee Meeting (reported by Sara Jones): HB291: Concurrent Enrollment Modifications was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill extends more time for higher education to comply with legislation from 2018 that required establishing uniform qualifications statewide for concurrent enrollment teachers. The bill ensures that anyone teaching concurrent enrollment during or prior to 2018-19 would continue to qualify to teach concurrent enrollment as higher education establishes consistent qualifications. The bill passed unanimously.

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.Rep. John Knotwell is requesting about $7 million to implement the program. There was extensive committee discussion and public comment. The bill passed unanimously.

HB71: Heath Education Amendments returned to House Education Committee after failing to receive enough votes to pass in a previous meeting. The bill clarifies instruction in health education classes regarding contraception. The bill sponsor, Rep. Ray Ward, presented an amendment to the bill that clarified it is a school district decision whether to include any information on contraception in health classes. With the addition of the amendment, the bill passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee Meeting (reported by Sara Jones): Today the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee made its recommendation for education funding. The committee is recommending a 4% increase in the WPU and fully funding student enrollment growth. Other significant funding proposals include $32 million to hire more school counselors, psychologists and nurses; a $10 million increase to a program to support students at risk of academic failure; nearly $9 million for a school readiness initiative; and nearly $5 million to expand the Teacher Salary Supplement Program.

The recommendation also included $35 million for the Teacher and Student Success Account (TSSA). TSSA received $65 million during the 2018 legislative session but the money was distributed through the Flexible Allocation line item last year. The proposed $35 million would be combined with the ongoing $65 million from last year and distributed through a new, highly prescriptive school improvement program tied to standardized test scores created by Senate Bill 149. The UEA recommends that such a significant new funding program be studied during the interim session (See UEA’s Issue Brief on SB149).

Subcommittee recommendations will be considered by the Executive Appropriations Committee, with final funding decisions made in a few weeks.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HCR9: Concurrent Resolution Commending Jordan School District on its Fleet of Natural Gas School Buses is supported by the UEA. It passed the House unanimously.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB106: Mental Health Services in Schools enacts provisions relating to coverage of certain mental health services by the Medicaid program and certain health insurers. The bill will provide more access to mental health services in rural areas. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration. The UEA supports this bill.