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UEA Report on the 2019 Utah Legislature General Session

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WEEK SIX: 

2019 WEEK IN REVIEW: March 4-8


In total, more than 500 educators participated in the six
Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2019
The big news during WEEK SIX was controversy surrounding a massive tax overhaul proposal that would have cut education funding by more than $300 million. The proposal was ultimately dropped by week’s end. In all, the UEA was tracking 90 education-related bills by the end of the week. Bills of interest on the move included proposals to create an educator ‘exit survey,’ to establish a new statewide voucher program and to initiate a new education funding distribution system. About 80 educators participated in UEA Educator Day on the Hill. Nearly 500 total participated in the event during 2019, making it the largest since the program began.

Legislature pulls massive tax overhaul bill, sends it to interim for more study

Utah lawmakers have abandoned their plan to cut funding to public education by $300 million and overhaul Utah’s sales tax system. They will instead study the changes over the summer as requested by the UEA.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune “the abrupt turnabout came in the face of mounting pressure and criticism from industry, community and education leaders.” HB441: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act faced mounting criticism from both educators who objected to deep cuts in the Education Fund and business that would have been impacted by changes to the sales tax. The UEA sent a press release earlier in the week opposing the income tax cut and urging the legislature to take more time to publicly discuss the proposed tax overhaul.


UEA headquarters staff take a moment to celebrate the
legislature's decision to send HB441 to interim study
“Let’s celebrate – and then get to work, because our fight is not over,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews in an email to UEA leaders. “Likely, tax reform will be a topic for interim and maybe even a special session this spring or summer. We will now have the necessary time to support efforts to fix this massive problem and to find solutions that assure our students have the funding and resources they need to be successful.”

The Executive Appropriations Committee was originally scheduled to release a final proposed budget on March 8, but their meeting was cancelled, postponing a draft budget announcement into the legislative session’s final week.

‘Voucher’ bill passes the Senate, House committee vote postponed

A bill creating a new voucher program that would redirect public money to private schools passed the Senate on a vote of 16-12SB177: Scholarships for Special Needs Students would provide tax credits for donations to a private-school scholarship fund and requires the State Board of Education to oversee the program (see the UEA SB177 Issue Brief for more information). A hearing in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee was postponed until March 11.

Teachers encouraged to get involved in local money decisions as controversial funding system passes


Utah Governors Education Advisor Tami Pyfer stopped by to thank
educators and share information at Educator Day on the Hill
The UEA opposed SB149 (1st sub.): Teacher and Student Success Act as a prescriptive, redundant new public education funding distribution method (see the UEA SB149 Issue Brief for more information). The bill passed the House on a vote of 61-11 and now goes to the Governor for signature. It 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. Up to 25% can be used for teacher salaries. The rest will be spent according to a plan developed by the principal in consultation with others at the school. The performance is judged by a 1% increase according to the state accountability system. The amount of money involved will be determined by the final education funding bill passed by the legislature. Now that the bill has passed, local teachers and school district bargaining teams are encouraged to learn more and become involved with administration in determining how this money is directed.

Educator ‘exit survey’ bill passes the Senate

The state will have access to more consistent data from teachers leaving the profession under a proposal soon on its way to the governor. HB130 (1st sub.): Public Education Exit Surveydirects the Utah State Board of Education to create standards for an educator “exit survey” to be administered when a teacher leaves employment to collect data to better understand causes of the teacher shortage. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 24-3 and now goes back to the House to consider changes made in the Senate.

Watered down fifth substitute school safety bill passes committee

What started out as a massive $100 million+ effort to address school safety was substituted and changed several times before finally passing the Senate Education Committee unanimously. HB120 (5th sub.): Student and School Safety Assessment directs the State Board of Education to develop model policies and procedures for threat assessment. A fourth substitute bill failed in the committee. The fifth substitute eliminates a requirement for the State Board to create assessment teams. The current fiscal note on the bill is $865 ongoing and about $1 million one-time.

Contraception instruction clarified and other bills of interest


UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels shared new
budget information with EDOH participants
HB71 (1st sub.): Heath Education Amendments clarifies instruction in health education classes regarding contraception. The bill had originally failed in the House Education Committee, but was amended and has since passed the House, the Senate Education Committee and now the full Senate all unanimously. The UEA supports this bill.

HB373 (2nd sub.): Student Support Amendments was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. This bill requests $32 million in ongoing money for schools to hire or contract with counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses. Districts applying for the program would have to provide matching dollars. The bill passed the House on a vote of 62-6 and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

HB188 (1st sub.): T.H. Bell Program Amendments changes the T.H. Bell Program from a loan forgiveness program to a scholarship program. It provides some preference to first-generation college students and provides some funds for promotion of the program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is awaiting approval by the full Senate, pending funding decisions.

New participation record for Educator Day on the Hill

Educators from more than half of Utah’s 41 school districts, along with several retired educators and representatives from the Utah School Employees Association, met early March 8 in the Auditorium of the State Office Building for the final UEA Educator Day on the Hill of the 2019 Legislative Session. They were joined by members of the UEA Board and UniServ staff, for a total of about 80 attending. The Governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, thanked teachers for their efforts. Other visitors included Sen. Kathleen Riebe, Rep. Steve Waldrip, Rep. Marsh Judkins and State Superintendent Syd Dickson.

In all, nearly 500 educators attended the six Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2019, setting a new record for educator involvement.

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:


UEA Policy Ambassador Joshua Thayne (right)
met with Rep. Mike Shultz during Educator Day
on the Hill March 1
A First Time for Everything - by UEA Policy Ambassador Joshua Thayne, math teacher at Roy Jr. High School in Weber School District

Maybe you are a little bit like me. The idea of approaching a legislator about anything is terrifying. What if they know how scared I am and see it as a sign of weakness? Or, what if I say the wrong thing or seem like I did not know what I was talking about? The purpose of this article is to take you, the reader, step by step through my experience and maybe you can see as I did, that it is not scary and that you also have it within you to make a difference. This article is a journal of sorts of the days…read the full article from Joshua Thayne

Persistence is the Key - by UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest, teacher at Ogden High School in Ogden School District

It doesn’t matter if you are a first-year teacher or a twenty-year veteran teacher. Each year you are going to have unique challenges that will take a long time to overcome in the classroom. The difficulty of these issues is why persistence is so crucial in addressing all the adversity teachers face each year. Not every solution, intervention or accommodation will work every single time. However, a response or an idea that does not assist the issue has ever stopped a teacher from building from their experience and finding…read the full article from Isac Ernest


Educator ‘exit survey’ bill passes the Senate, school ‘voucher’ bill hearing delayed – March 8, 2019


More than 80 educators and education support professionals
participated in Educator Day on the Hill March 8.
Educator Day on the Hill(reported by Mike Kelley): Educators from more than half of Utah’s 41 school districts, along with several retired educators and representatives from the Utah School Employees Association, met early in the Auditorium of the State Office Building for the final Educator Day on the Hill of the 2019 Legislative Session. They were joined by members of the UEA Board and UniServ staff, for a total of about 80 attending.

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. UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels shared information about the statewide tax restructure bill that was dropped by the legislature the prior evening (HB441) and the TSSA bill to create a new funding distribution system (SB149), which passed the House and is on it’s way to the Governor.


UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels shared new
budget information with EDOH participants
The Governor’s education advisor, Tami Pyfer, thanked teachers for their efforts. In response to a question, Pyfer expressed several specific concerns about Senate Bill 177, a bill to create a new voucher program target toward special needs students (see House Revenue and Taxation Committee below).

Other visitors included Sen. Kathleen Riebe, Rep. Steve Waldrip, Rep. M Judkins and State Superintendent Syd Dickson.

In all, more than 500 educators attended the six Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2019, setting a new record for educator involvement. 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.


Utah Governors Education Advisor Tami Pyfer stopped by to thank
educators and share information at Educator Day on the Hill
Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB245: School Community Awareness was presented by Sen. Karen Mayne. The bill is a response to the recent closure of a Granite district school under the statewide School Turnaround program. The bill adds clarifying language for a school in Turnaround status about keeping the school community and public notified of potential changes. It also adds clarifications about the process for public notice and public input prior to a school closure or school boundary change. The bill passed with one ‘no’ vote.

HB373 (2nd sub.): Student Support Amendments was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. This bill requests $32 million in ongoing money for schools to hire or contract with counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses. Districts applying for the program would have to provide matching dollars. The bill passed unanimously.

HB416: Educational Services for Students in Human Services Programs was presented byRep. Derrin Owens. The bill clarifies language regarding school district residency and “supervision” of students enrolled in certain human services programs. The bill passed unanimously.

House Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The Committee was scheduled to hear SB177: Scholarships for Special Needs Students and SB179 (2nd sub.): Truth in Taxation Amendments. The bills were not heard because the sponsor had an emergency and was unable to present them.


In total, more than 500 educators participated in the six
Educator Day on the Hill events held in 2019
House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB47 (1st sub.): Early Childhood Coordination Amendmentscreates an Early Childhood Utah Advisory Council in the Department of Health and the Governor’s Early Child Commission in the governor’s office. The House concurred with Senate changes on a vote of 64-4. It now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB375: School Employee Background Checks exempts a provider (basically school districts) who provides care to a qualifying child through an educational institution that is regulated by the State Board of Education from submitting information to the Department of Health for a background check. The UEA supports this bill. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB130 (1st sub.): Public Education Exit Surveydirects the Utah State Board of Education to create standards for an educator “exit survey” to be administered when a teacher leaves employment to collect data to better understand causes of the teacher shortage. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 24-3 and now goes back to the House to consider changes made in the Senate.

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

HB250 (1st sub.): School Fee Revisions requires the State Board of Education to report recommendations on activity-based costing. It also requires the state board to take certain actions against an LEA that fails to comply with fee provisions. It passed the Senate on a vote of 22-4 and now goes back to the House to consider changes made in the Senate.

HB286: Financial and Economic Literacy Amendments adds more economic concepts to the financial literacy standards. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 21-6and now goes to the Governor for signature.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – March 8, 2019


UEA Policy Ambassador Joshua Thayne (right)
met with Rep. Mike Shultz during Educator Day
on the Hill March 1
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...

A First Time for Everything

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Joshua Thayne, math teacher at Roy Jr. High School in Weber School District

Maybe you are a little bit like me. The idea of approaching a legislator about anything is terrifying. What if they know how scared I am and see it as a sign of weakness? Or, what if I say the wrong thing or seem like I did not know what I was talking about? The purpose of this article is to take you, the reader, step by step through my experience and maybe you can see as I did, that it is not scary and that you also have it within you to make a difference. This article is a journal of sorts of the days leading up to my first Educator Day on the Hill, I hope it helps…at least a little.

Tuesday, 26 February—I am a little nervous to go to Educator Day on the Hill. I have never been, am not sure what to do and I don’t know how it’s going to work. I have looked up several bills on the UEA Under the Dome website and quickly came to the conclusion that reading bills is very difficult. Even when I go online and find the bills that are important, it is very…


Legislature pulls massive tax overhaul bill, sends it to interim for more study – March 7, 2019


UEA headquarters staff take a moment to celebrate the
legislature's decision to send HB441 to interim study

Utah lawmakers have abandoned their plan to cut funding to public education by $300 million and overhaul Utah’s sales tax system. They will instead study the changes over the summer as requested by the UEA.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune“the abrupt turnabout came in the face of mounting pressure and criticism from industry, community and education leaders.” HB441: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act faced mounting criticism from both educators who objected to deep cuts in the Education Fund and business that would have been impacted by changes to the sales tax.

“Let’s celebrate – and then get to work, because our fight is not over,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews in an email to UEA leaders. “Likely, tax reform will be a topic for interim and maybe even a special session this spring or summer. We will now have the necessary time to support efforts to fix this massive problem and to find solutions that assure our students have the funding and resources they need to be successful.”


Prescriptive, redundant TSSA education funding distribution system passes the House – March 7, 2019

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four bills heard in the committee all passed unanimously and now go to the full Senate.

HB120 (5th sub.): Student and School Safety Assessment directs the State Board of Education to develop model policies and procedures for threat assessment. The fifth substitute eliminates the requirement for the State Board to create assessment teams. Representatives from the State Board of Education, the Association of the Chiefs of Police, the Utah PTA and the Governor’s office, spoke in favor of the bill as substituted. The UEA supports this bill.

HB303 (2nd sub.): School Community Council Amendments has school community councils incorporate safety principles within the boundaries of USBE rules. It also has them coordinate with district administrators at least one time per year on safety issues. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain spoke in favor of the bill. He thanked the sponsor for working with the UEA on addressing concerns and making the bill better. It passed unanimously.

HB344: Student Relief Amendments allows a school to make stock albuterol available in a school. In addition, it allows authorized adults to obtain a prescription for stock albuterol and administer it to students.

HB236 (1st sub.): Teacher Salary Supplement Amendments would allow teachers with endorsements to receive a salary supplement if they teach in the area for 10 years. The 10-year addition was made to bring the fiscal not down from about $17 million to $4.9 million. According to the sponsor, this bill will start to take care of an imbalance in the program. Representatives from the Utah School Boards Association, the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah Speech and Hearing Association spoke in favor of the bill.

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB463: Early Literacy Amendmentsallows all students in a classroom to use software, not just those below grade level. The bill passed unanimously.

HB363 (1st sub.): School Transportation Amendments was substituted and changed significantly. The bill now is about safe walking routes and having the State Board office create a committee to study and make recommendations about hazardous walking routes. The bill passed on a vote of 7-2.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB149 (1st sub.): Teacher and Student Success Actadds 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 House on a vote of 61-11 and now goes to the Governor for signature.

HB409: Changes to the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind is a “recodification” bill related to USDB, essentially cleaning up and modernizing the code. It passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB47 (1st sub.): Early Childhood Coordination Amendments creates an Early Childhood Utah Advisory Council in the Department of Health and the Governor’s Early Child Commission in the governor’s office. It passed unanimously and now goes back to the House to concur with a substitution.


No controversy? Education bills pass unanimously – March 6, 2019

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The three bills on the committee’s agenda all passed unanimously.

HB375: School Employee Background Checks exempts a provider (basically school districts) who provides care to a qualifying child through an educational institution that is regulated by the State Board of Education from submitting information to the Department of Health for a background check. The UEA supports this bill.

SB173: Dual Language Immersion Amendments creates a pilot program to allow LEA’s to enroll students in online language programs to catch-up in languages so that they can enroll in dual immersion programs. The bill has a $100,000 fiscal note. Asked how many students that would cover, the bill sponsor responded it would accommodate about 200, depending on the language.

SB166 (2nd sub.): School Readiness Amendments fundamentally allows LEA’s to run Pre-K programs. It allows UPSTART to be used in daycare if a provider chooses to do so. The UEA supports this bill.

House 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 Governor for signing.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB208: National Certification Teacher Incentive Program would set the stipend for National Board Certified teachers at $1,000 and at $2,000 for a Title 1 school, raised from $750 and $1,500, respectively. It passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.


PRESS RELEASE: UEA Opposes Proposed Massive Cuts to Education Funding – March 6, 2019

The state needs tax reforms, but the fix must not come at the expense of students

The Utah Education Association supports legislative efforts to reform Utah’s broken tax structure. Proposed measures in House Bill 441 to broaden the sales tax base will ensure the state’s ability to provide needed services. However, the UEA believes those sales tax improvements can and should be enacted without lowering the income tax rate, thereby reducing funds available for education.

The following can be attributed to UEA President Heidi Matthews:

“For years, educators, school administrators and parents have relied on lawmaker promises that a growing economy would ultimately lead to new investments in the education of our students. Utah’s economy is currently among the nation’s strongest and our budget surplus is more than $1 billion. Now is the perfect time to make those long-promised and much-needed investments in our students – NOT cut the Education Fund by more than $300 million.

“Utah’s broken tax structure is nothing new. Legislators have seen this coming for years but have not addressed it. We believe legislators can devise a way to repair the broken sales tax structure without drastically cutting funding for education. This whole proposal is a gamble. Our kids’ education must not be used as a political device just to make needed sales tax changes palatable. We urge legislators to keep the promise to our students, to allow the Education Fund to continue to grow and to invest that new growth in the resources our students so urgently need.

“The tax problems HB441 attempts to address are more than 20 years in the making. Details of such a massive tax overhaul cannot be fully understood and openly discussed when they are released with barely two weeks remaining in the legislative session.

“We look forward to working with legislators as we seek positive solutions to Utah’s tax structure problems and provide the resources our students need.”

About the bill – HB441: Tax Equalization and Reduction Act, sponsored by Representative Tim Quinn, 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.


Watered down school safety bill fails in committee – March 5, 2019

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): SB236: State Board of Education Candidacy Amendments was presented by Sen. Ann Milner. The bill would modify the election process for State Board of Education candidates to allow them to run as a partisan candidate, unaffiliated candidate or write-in candidate. Currently, there is a lawsuit challenging previous legislation from 2016 which created partisan school board elections. The Utah Supreme Court has not yet ruled on that legal question. Several people spoke against this current proposal as being premature since the constitutionality of partisan elections is still under review by the courts. Chase Clyde, speaking on behalf of UEA, reiterated the long-standing position of UEA in support of direct, non-partisan elections. The bill passed on a vote of 5-2.

HB213 (1st sub.): Promotion of Student Loan Forgiveness was presented by Rep. Susan Duckworth. The bill would require that public employees, including educators, be notified annually of the federal student loan forgiveness program for public employees. The bill passed with one ‘no’ vote.

HB260 (3rd sub.): Access Utah Promise Scholarship Program was presented by Rep. Derrin Owens. It creates a new scholarship program for students attending Utah public colleges and universities. The bill passed unanimously.

HB291 (1st sub.): Concurrent Enrollment Modifications was presented by Rep. Mike Winder. The bill seeks to create consistent standards for teachers teaching concurrent enrollment courses. The bill passed unanimously.

HB120 (4th sub.): Student and School Safety Assessment was presented by Rep. Ray Ward. The 4th substitute significantly reduces the scope of the original bill. The original fiscal note is reduced from nearly $100 million to about $750,000. The remaining money would be used to create a “school safety center” at the USBE to coordinate school safety issues, develop training and model policies for schools. The bill would also require districts and charters to develop school safety and support teams. These teams would be trained to identify and intervene in behavior that could be a threat to a school community. The bill failed on a vote of 3-3.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – March 5, 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...

Persistence is the Key

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest, teacher at Ogden High School in Ogden School District

UEA Policy Ambassador Isac Ernest (left) participated
in UEA Educator Day on the Hill Feb. 8
It doesn’t matter if you are a first-year teacher or a twenty-year veteran teacher. Each year you are going to have unique challenges that will take a long time to overcome in the classroom. The difficulty of these issues is why persistence is so crucial in addressing all the adversity teachers face each year. Not every solution, intervention or accommodation will work every single time. However, a response or an idea that does not assist the issue has ever stopped a teacher from building from their experience and finding new ideas and solutions.

The same kind of persistence has been effective in committee meetings at the legislature. When new bills are proposed, there are a lot of questions, concerns and skepticism that can come from any member of the Utah State Legislature. Educators and the UEA Legislative Team must be persistent in every way possible to address all the issues that may arise. The uncertainty and concerns may persist for many weeks during the session, however, with the strong efforts of everyone involved, these challenges can be resolved and the goals and priorities of educators will keep moving forward.

A prime example of this has been House Bill 71 involving sex education…


Redundant alternative funding mechanism clears committee, voucher bill passes the Senate – March 4, 2019

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): SB149: Teacher and Student Success Act creates a distribution method for money in the Teacher and a Student Success Account. Up to 25% can be used for teacher salaries. The rest will be spent according to a plan developed by the principal in consultation with others at the school. The performance is judged by a 1% increase according to the state accountability system. The UEA opposes the creation of this prescriptive, redundant distribution system (see the UEA SB149 Issue Brief for more information).

There was considerable discussion on the bill by both legislators and the public. Rep. Marie Poulson asked about tying the money to standardized test scores with the opt-out rate being so high in some schools and districts, also with student apathy. Rep. Dan Johnson asked about the accountability system and measure the distribution on the WPU. Rep. Melissa Ballard appreciates that the funding is tied to standards. Rep. Carol Moss asked about the cap on salary increases.

Bob Marquardt, representing Our Schools Now, spoke in favor of the bill saying we know what improves outcomes and this will help provide funding to do it. McKay Jensen from the Provo City Board of Education said their district would receive $2 million from this, about 1% of their budget. He added to please to continue to support the WPU. Ashley Anderson, a parent from Washington Elementary in Salt Lake City School District, said she had concerns about School Community Councils now having to rubber stamp TSSA plans instead of developing their own LAND trust plans and that the legislature should just fund the WPU instead of this plan.

UEA President Heidi Matthews said SB149 is not local control and contains a lot of unnecessary, prescriptive language. She expressed concern that there is no flexibility in measuring outcomes, adding that that state can use existing distribution methods and accountability systems without creating this redundant mechanism.

Kara Sherman, representing the Utah PTA, expressed concern that this act will impact funding available for the WPU. Royce Van Tassell, representing charter schools, said that this a step forward for accountability and assessment.

The bill passed the committee on a vote of 7-4.

HB385: Medicaid Reimbursements to Public Schools prohibits a local education agency from using Medicaid reimbursements except to enhance the compensation of an employee who provided the reimbursable service or to reimburse a contracted provider for providing the reimbursable service. The committee voted to hold the bill.

HB409: Changes to the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind is a “recodification” bill related to USDB, essentially cleaning up and modernizing the code. It passed unanimously and was placed on the Consent calendar.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Several bills were heard in the committee today. All passed unanimously and will now be heard by the full Senate.

SB208: National Certification Teacher Incentive Program would set the stipend for National Board Certified teachers at $1,000 and at $2,000 for a Title 1 school, raised from $750 and $1,500, respectively.

HB227 (1st sub.): Utah Computer Science Grant Act establishes a $7 million grant program for schools to improve computer science course offerings and provide professional learning for educators. The grants would be for professional development and curriculum.

HB71: Health Education Amendments provides that health education instruction may include information about the medical characteristics, effectiveness, limitations, and risks of contraceptive methods or devices. The UEA supports this bill.

SB218 (1st sub.): Reading Program Expansion Amendments extends access to the Early Literacy Program based on students in grade 6. Funding for this bill was not prioritized by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

HB250 (1st sub.): School Fee Revisions requires the State Board of Education to report recommendations on activity-based costing. It also requires the state board to take certain actions against an LEA that fails to comply with fee provisions. It grants the state board rulemaking authority for fee provisions and amends fee waiver provisions, including requiring an LEA to inform a student of procedures to appeal a waiver denial. In addition, it requires an LEA governing board to adopt a fee policy and fee schedule. It also amends the definition of "textbook" and other provisions related to textbooks and repeals provisions authorizing citizens to petition a local school board to provide free textbooks. Finally, it prohibits an LEA from charging a fee for a school uniform but permits a fee for school activity clothing.

HB188: T.H. Bell Program Amendments changes the T.H. Bell Program from a loan forgiveness program to a scholarship program. It provides some preference to first-generation college students and provides some funds for promotion of the program. The UEA supports this bill.

HB286: Financial and Economic Literacy Amendments more economic concepts to the financial literacy standards. The UEA supports this bill.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley):

HB373 (2nd sub.) Student Support Amendments authorizes the State Board of Education to distribute money to schools 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. It passed on a vote of 62-6and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Three bills impacting the citizen initiative and referendum process, both opposed by the UEA, passed the House. HB133: Initiative Amendments modifies provisions relating to statewide initiatives, modifies the effective date of laws enacted by statewide initiative and modifies appeal provisions relating to conflicting initiatives. It passed on a vote of 50-20. HB145: Citizen Political Process Amendments modifies signature sheets, deadlines, signature removal requests, the signature certification process and criminal penalties. It passed on a vote of 50-21. HB195: Initiative and Referendum Amendments modifies signature thresholds for statewide initiatives and referenda and bases the thresholds on a percentage of active voters rather than the number of voters in a previous presidential election. It passed on a vote of 58-6.

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

SB177: Scholarships for Special Needs Students creates a new voucher program that would redirect public money to private schools. The UEA opposes the bill. It passed on a vote of 16-12.

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 UEA opposes this bill because it could negatively impact rural school districts where it may be difficult to attend meetings. It passed on a vote of 20-3.

SB164: Student Data Privacy Amendments passed 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.