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Feb 26 8 a.m. Senate Education Committee
Feb 26 4 p.m. House Education Committee
Feb 26 6 p.m. Executive Approp Committee
Mar 1 7 a.m. Executive Approp Committee
Mar 1 4 p.m. Senate Education Committee
Mar 2 8 a.m. House Education Committee
Mar 5 Final Day of the 2021 General Session

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Committee approves an additional $76.5 million in public education funding – February 26, 2021

The Executive Appropriations Committee approved $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time in additional new funding for education, beyond the $400 million already approved in the Base Budget. The House rejected legislation (HB177) to require education in consent and sexual violence behavior prevention. The Senate passed a bill (SB187) that dictates when a school district can and cannot enforce mask wearing.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate Education Committee and now go to the full Senate:

SB234: Statewide Online Education Program Amendments was presented by Sen. Kirk Cullimore. The bill is one of several this session addressing SOEP which has been in place for about 10 years. SB234 will expand online education classes to include grades 7 and 8. The bill narrowly passed on a vote of 3-2. UEA has not yet taken a position on the bill.

HB233: Education Immunization Modifications was presented by Rep. Mark Strong. The bill primarily applies to higher education but also includes a provision that when public schools are offering in-person learning a student’s vaccination status cannot prohibit them from choosing to attend in-person. The UEA opposes this bill because it usurps authority from the health department. It passed with one no vote.

HB323 (1st sub): High Poverty Schools Teacher Bonus Program Amendments makes technical provisions to allow the program to award bonuses this year using previous years of student testing data since statewide tests were not given in 2020. UEA continues to oppose this program because it bases a teacher bonus on a statewide standardized test score. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

HB300: Reporting Requirements for Local Education Agencies is one of several bills eliminating or reducing burdensome reporting requirements for LEAs. UEA supports the bill. It passed unanimously.

House Education Committee: Three UEA-tracked and supported bills were heard in the committee. All passed unanimously and now go to the full House for consideration.

HB425 (1st sub): Education Monitoring and Funds Management Amendments was presented by Rep. Lowry Snow. The bill creates consistent standards for how the State Board of Education monitors both school district and charter school management and expenditures of state funds. The bill also creates a Charter School Closure Reserve Account that is funded with $1 million in state monies and added to through a fee paid by charters. Money in the account may be used to pay debts owed by a charter school that closes after the charter school liquidates all assets. UEA supports the bill as a necessary progress toward greater charter school accountability.

HB378: Education Standards Review Committee Amendments allows USBE to appoint members to a standards review committee if the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate are not able to make the appointments in a timely manner.

SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility provides some flexibility regarding deadlines and funding restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

House Business and Labor Committee (reported by Jay Blain): One UEA-tracked bill was heard in this committee. SB115 (1st sub): Retirement System Transparency Amendments requires certain employers in the URS to disclose employee compensation through their website or the Utah Public Finance Website, if the employer is not currently required to disclose the information. The bill was amended to have the deadline for the disclosure be June 30, 2022. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed on a vote of 9-1.

Executive Appropriations Committee (reported by Jay Blain): The committee approved a budget that includes $915 million in new statewide spending, $238 million ongoing and $677 million one-time. For public education the committee approved $31.7 million ongoing and $44.8 million one-time. Here are some highlights from the Public Education section:

Ongoing funding—

  • Option Enhanced Kindergarten = $7 million
  • At-Risk WPU Add-on and Hold Harmless = $900,000
  • Pupil Transportation = $1.5 million

One-time funding—

  • Small District Base Funding Bridge = $3.6 million (helps replace admin. cost cut last year)
  • At-Risk WPU Add-on and Hold Harmless = $2.6 million
  • Pupil Transportation = $1 million
  • Grow Your Own Teacher and Counselor Program = $9.2 million

In addition, the committee approved the following language to expand the use of the federal CARES Act money:

  • Use of Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds – Senate Bill 1 Intent Language: Modify the intent language in Senate Bill 1, Public Education Base Budget Amendments to change the list of allowable uses from those outlined in Items 2, 9, 22, and 33 of Senate Bill 1 to the use of funds designated under section 313(d) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act for any activity listed in section 313(d) except for the following:
  • School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.
  • Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program restores the Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program that was inadvertently removed from statute during a 2020 special session when the legislature cut some funding due to the impact of the pandemic. A total of $4 million has been prioritized through the appropriations process to be restored to the program. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House on a vote of 64-10 and now goes to the Senate.

HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic. It passed on a vote of 71-2 and now goes to the Senate.

HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program would create a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. The UEA supports the bill. It passed the House on a vote of 72-1.

HB177 (4th sub): Health Education Amendments requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements that include instruction on consent and what does not constitute consent. The bill also includes curriculum on and sexual violence behavior prevention. It would be an opt-in choice for students. The UEA supports this bill. The bill failed in the House on a vote of 31-39.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB184 (2nd sub): School Assessment and Accountability Amendments removes accountability requirements based on statewide standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year because standardized tests were not given in spring 2020. UEA supports the bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.

SB219: Truancy Enforcement Moratorium decriminalizes certain truancy violations until June 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 on families. The bill passed unanimously and will now be considered by the House.

SB187 (3rd sub): Local Education Agency Policies Amendments requires health departments to consult with LEAs on health orders related to mask mandates. The bill provides that a public health order that directly affects an LEA is unenforceable unless the issuing authority consults with the affected LEA before issuing the public health order. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate on a vote of 16-11. It now goes to the House.

In Case You Missed It

The UEA Legislative Team provides a weekly Capitol Insights virtual update to UEA members each Thursday at 4:30 p.m.


A bill to restore math and science program funding is among legislation passing ed committee – February 25, 2021

A committee voted to restore funding for the MOST program, funding inadvertently eliminated last summer during COVID-related budget cuts. Other bills moving forward today would enhance training requirements for resource officers and require school districts to inspect school buses at the end of every route. A bill to undo the Count My Vote initiative failed in the Senate then was resurrected and passed second reading.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Three UEA-supported bills were heard in the committee. All passed unanimously and now go to the full House for consideration.

HB340: Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers Program was presented by Rep. Steve Eliason. The bill restores the Mathematics and Science Opportunities for Students and Teachers (MOST) program that was inadvertently removed from statute during a 2020 special session when the legislature cut some funding due to the impact of the pandemic. A total of $4 million has been prioritized through the appropriations process to be restored to the program. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke in support of the bill saying “restoration of the MOST program and its affiliated funding is one of UEA’s legislative priorities this year.”

HB372: Start Smart Utah Breakfast Program Amendments was presented by Rep. Dan Johnson. The bill simply delays the start date of the program to the 2021-22 school year, due to the pandemic.

HB345: School Resource Officers Amendments was presented by Rep. Sandra Hollins. The bill is a continuation of work begun by Rep. Hollins in 2016 when she passed legislation to require curriculum and training for resource officers to help stop the school to prison pipeline. This bill further enhances that required training and clarifies requirements for the Memorandum of Understanding a school district enters in to with a law enforcement agency providing school resource officers.

Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Two UEA-tracked bills were heard in the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee:

SB0206 Tax Rate Amendments cuts the state income tax rate by 0.20%. While the percentage cut seems small, the impact on the budget would be a loss of more than $250 million from the Education Fund. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain testified against the bill saying that until public education is fully funded, such a drastic cut is just “a bridge too far” and too much of a tax cut for this budget. A representative from Voices for Utah Children also spoke against the bill citing research about the low tax burden in Utah. The bill passed on a vote of 5-2 and now goes to the full Senate.

HB86 Social Security Tax Amendments enacts a tax credit for Social Security benefits included in federal adjusted gross income. The bill passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full House for consideration.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments would require LEA’s to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for parents and families. The UEA opposes the resolution because it ignores the importance of high educational standards and taxpayer accountability. It passed the Senate on a vote of 21-5.

SB205: Election Process Amendments would allow political parties to prohibit signature gathering as a way to get on the ballot and require candidates to go through the caucus process. This circumvents the Count My Vote compromise reached several years ago. The UEA opposed this bill. On second reading, it failed in the Senate on a vote of 12-15 then was reconsidered and passed on a vote of 18-11. Read more.

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

Four UEA-tracked bills are scheduled for hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 8 a.m. Feb. 26:

Four UEA-tracked bills are scheduled for hearing in the House Education Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 26:


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 25, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

Should School Boards Decide If Masks are Necessary?

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Tony Zani, literacy coach at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City School District

On February 18, I spoke to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee about Senate Bill 187. In this bill, a school district or charter school would only need to consult with the local health department before deciding whether or not to enforce mask mandates.

...As a teacher, I spoke against the bill. I expressed that the health department is best suited to make decisions about public health. We don’t let local school boards decide if teachers can smoke in school building. We don’t let local school boards waive requirements for cafeteria staff to wash their hands before serving food. We shouldn’t let local school boards waive mask requirements in schools during a public health crisis…


Bill restricting sports participation by transgender youth stalls in committee – February 24, 2021

More than 100 Salt Lake City educators, students and parents gathered at the Capitol to tell the legislature to leave school opening decisions to districts. After a lengthy debate, a bill to restrict participation by transgender youth in girls’ sports failed to pass a Senate committee. A measure that would let local school boards vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections cleared a committee.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): Four UEA-tracked bills passed the Senate Education Committee and now go to the full Senate. The committee voted to hold a fifth bill:

SB148: Public Education Modifications was presented by Rep. Keith Grover. He said this bill comes from his daughters and their experience with online learning. The bill requires a local education agency to provide parents with access to curriculum that the local education agency uses and for each grading period and to provide a student a grade or performance report for each course in which the student is enrolled that reflects the student's work, including the student's progress based on mastery during the grading period. It also requires a local education agency to provide a student enrolled in an online course and the student's parent with access to certain information. The bill passed the committee unanimously.

SB226 (1st sub): Online Education Program Revisions allows a certified online course provider that the State Board of Education approves to offer courses directly through the Statewide Online Education Program and establishes the requirements for the state board to approve certified online course providers. It also authorizes the state board to make rules related to approving certified online course providers and authorizes the state board to set fees to cover the costs of regulating certified online course providers. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 3-2.

HB258 (2nd sub): Firearm Safety in Schools provides for pilot program for firearm safety for a semester elective course for high school students. Several members of the public spoke against the bill, some indicating school districts already have the ability to offer this. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain said the legislature “would be flooded with new curriculum ideas if 104 legislators were to pass pilot programs.” He also asked about the discipline policies on facsimile weapons and bringing of those items on to school property. A motion to move the agenda passed with only one no vote.

HCR15: Concurrent Resolution Emphasizing the Importance of Civics Education recognizes the critical role of an engaged and informed citizenry and the importance of civics education. The resolution also encourages the creation of a broad-based and informal working group to review civics education. It passed the committee unanimously.

HB182 (2nd sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies existing statute to identify the appropriate court of appeals for an educator who appeals a termination by a school district. The UEA brought this issue to the legislature. It was substituted in the committee to address concerns and passed unanimously.

House Government Operations Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Just one bill was debated in the House Government Operations Committee. SB107 (4th sub): In-person Instruction Prioritization was presented by Sen. Todd Weiler. The bill implements thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program that goes into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. In addition, the legislation would require all LEAs offer in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. UEA Policy Ambassador and Salt Lake Education Association member Shandre Call spoke against the bill, stating that “our biggest concern is the safety of our students and our safety” and that “our desire is for health and science to lead the way”. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones also spoke in opposition to the bill and against placing in statute specific requirements for in-person instruction, which “confuses, complicates and even prevents the ability to follow public health recommendations that may change over time.” The bill passed the committee on a vote of 8-2.

House Political Subdivisions Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB338: School District Voter Eligibility Amendments allows local school boards to vote to allow students who are 16 and 17 years old to vote in local school board elections. The bill was brought to Rep. Joel Briscoe by students who testified passionately. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 6-4. UEA supports the bill but was unable to testify due to time constraints on public comment.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee (reported by Chase Clyde): HB302 (2nd sub.): Preserving Sports for Female Students requires public schools to designate athletic activities as either “boys”, “girls” or “coed” and prohibits male students at birth who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports. The UEA opposes this legislation because it would supersede existing UHSAA policy that already provides protection regarding transgender participation in sports. After lengthy discussion and public input, the committee opted to adjourn rather than vote on the bill. 

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): SB92 (2nd sub): Elections Amendments provides that a regulated officeholder is not required to file a conflict-of-interest disclosure at the time of filing for reelection to office if the regulated officeholder already filed a disclosure earlier the same year and indicates that the disclosure is accurate and up-to-date. It failed in the House on a vote of 33-37.

Educators gather at the Capitol (reported by Mike Kelley): Dozens of red-clad and masked teachers, parents, students, school employees and other education supporters gathered on the Utah Capitol steps to express concerns about legislative overreach into locally elected school board decisions. Organized by the Salt Lake Education Association (SLEA), the gathering was in response to several legislative attempts at forcing school districts to implement in-person learning options.

SLEA President James Tobler began his comments by thanking legislators. “We very much appreciate getting the COVID vaccine early in the vaccine timeline. We appreciate and are excited by the significant increases in education funding. We appreciate the tireless work of many elected officials and in the health department to keep our schools and Utah residents safe during this pandemic,” he said.

“This is a time to come together, work in unison to make the best of a very bad situation. That is why this squabble between the Utah Legislature and Salt Lake City School Board and District needs to stop.” Tobler concluded by saying “we are here today because we don’t let poor behavior go unnoticed in our classrooms, we will not ignore poor behavior by our legislature.”

In addition to Tobler, speakers at the event included teachers, a student, a bus driver and a parent.


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 24, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

Take the Next Step to Make Change Happen

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro, science teacher at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City School District


UEA 2021 Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro
(second from right)
 at the Utah State Capitol
in 
February 2020.
This is my first year really being involved in the legislative session in a way that feels meaningful to me. Sure, I’ve been to the Hill before; I’ve brought students, joined UEA Educator Day on the Hill and marched with Utah teachers. But all those things still felt very removed from the people making policy decisions and passing education bills. Suffice to say, this year I was not yet feeling ready to contact my legislator. I wasn’t certain what to say, what to ask for, or if I even knew how to go about it. Instead, I took this time as a Policy Ambassador to study the legislative session and truly understand how educational policy gets made. My experience isn’t over yet, but I wanted to share some of my key learning moments…


Resolution declaring racism a public health crisis clears committee – February 23, 2021

Dozens of supporters lined up (virtually) to speak in favor of a resolution to affirm that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race. The resolution also highlights racial disparities in health measures, including COVID-19 risks; describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed; and declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis. A bill to remove accountability requirements for the 2020-21 school year because standardized test were not given also passed a committee vote.

House Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Two UEA-tracked bills passed the House Education Committee and now go to the full House:

HB369: School Bus Inspection Amendments was presented by Rep. Calvin Musselman. The bill would require LEA’s to have a written policy about school bus inspections at the end of every route and disciplinary actions for failure to do so. UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because similar requirements already exist in USBE rule. The bill passed on a vote of 11-3.

HB381: Grow Your Own Teacher and School Counselor Pipeline Program was presented by Rep. Jefferson Moss. The bill would create a scholarship program for paraprofessionals and school counselor interns to become licensed teachers or licensed school counselors. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke in support of the bill highlighting especially the goal to support rural communities and to diversify the workforce to better reflect Utah’s diverse communities. The bill passed unanimously.

Senate Education Committee (reported by Sara Jones): Four UEA-tracked bills were heard in the Senate Education Committee:

SB184 (2nd sub): School Assessment and Accountability Amendments removes accountability requirements based on statewide standardized tests for the 2020-21 school year because standardized tests were not given in spring 2020. UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in support of the bill stating that “our students are experiencing a wide range of impacts” due to COVID-19 and it is appropriate to waive high stakes accountability requirements this year. The bill passed unanimously.

SB219: Truancy Enforcement Moratorium decriminalizes certain truancy violations until June 2022 due to the impacts of COVID-19 on families. UEA has not yet taken a position on the bill. The bill passed unanimously.

HB124 (1st sub): Civics Education Amendments makes a one-word technical change to the required civics education exam. UEA supports the bill and it passed unanimously.

HB182 (1st sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies the appeals process for an educator who has been terminated. This bill was brought to the legislature by the UEA. The bill was substituted on the House floor and passed the House unanimously. During Senate committee discussion it became clear that some school districts have concerns with the substitute bill so it was held in committee in order to resolve those concerns.

House Health and Human Services (reported by Jay Blain): HJR13: Joint Resolution Declaring Racism a Moral and Public Health Crisis affirms that differences in access to opportunities and resources according to race persist. It also highlights racial disparities in health measures including COVID-19 risks and describes calls by various organizations for racism to be addressed. In addition, it declares racism to be a moral and public health crisis and expresses the Legislature's commitment to identify, abolish state policies that are discriminatory and identify actions that may be taken by the state to help mitigate the impacts of any discriminatory policies of the past.

The legislative sponsor, Rep. Sandra Hollins, said she brought this resolution from a constituent, Kilo Zamora, after concerns about the disparate effects on her district from COVID-19. Zamora is a leading consultant on this topic. When we address racism, we address health, he said. In this resolution we are asking for you to be in sync with all the major health organizations who have already done this.

Many spoke in favor of the resolution, including several medical professionals. UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke in favor of the resolution detailing how the factors of systemic racism impact students’ health. The resolution passed the committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

Upcoming Legislation to Watch

SB107: In-person Instruction Prioritization, a highlighted priority bill opposed by UEA, will be heard in the House Government Operations Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 24.

Five UEA-tracked are scheduled for hearing in the Senate Education Committee at 4 p.m. Feb. 24:


UEA Policy Ambassador Message – February 23, 2021

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

‘Consent’ Bill Needs Our Support

Submitted by UEA Policy Ambassador Sarah Nichols, resource teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City School District

…Many speakers from the community came out to show support for (House Bill 177), either in person or over Zoom. They told of their own harrowing experiences and how this bill could have helped them or their loved ones. Nicole Bedera shared her own research on consent cues in young men, in which she found that young men attributed consent to platonic interactions with women, including eye contact, dancing or engaging in conversation. Because young people do not understand what actually constitutes consent (a clear ‘yes’), they are left to use their limited experiences to make uninformed guesses on consent. Unfortunately, a wrong guess can mean a lifetime of trauma for another person.

As a teacher, a mom and a survivor myself, I was moved to see so many people speak up about their experiences. I was impressed by how seriously our lawmakers are taking the need for this addition to our curriculum. Too many students lack the vocabulary and skills to navigate complex social situations, especially as they are entering the world of intimacy and sexuality…


Bill forcing school districts to offer in-person instruction passes the Senate resoundingly – February 22, 2021

After several changes to make the proposal more palatable with more legislators, Senate Bill 107 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and now goes to the House. A measure to prohibit vaccine requirements passed the House and now goes to the Senate.

House Floor (reported by Mike Kelley): HB308: Covid-19 Vaccine Amendments prohibits a governmental entity from requiring that an individual receive a vaccine for COVID-19. It passed the House on a vote of 66-2.

HB343: School Emergency Drills Amendments provides flexibility for schools during the 2021-22 school year only to choose whether to hold standard emergency drills or provide in-class instruction in lieu of a drill. The UEA supports this bill. It failed in the House on a vote of 32-39.

Senate Floor (reported by Mike Kelley and Sara Jones): SB107 (4th sub): In-Person Instruction Prioritization passed the Senate on a vote of 25-4. If the bill also passes the House with a two-thirds majority vote, it will go into effect immediately upon signature by the governor. This means every LEA would be required to immediately begin offering in-person learning a minimum four days a week as an option for students. The bill also implements thresholds and requirements for the test-to-stay testing program which goes into effect if 2% of the school population tests positive for COVID-19. Sen. Ann Millner stated that “we’ve had lots of consultation with superintendents…[they] are the ones that are the impetus for this bill”. However, when asked whether the Superintendents Association supports the current version of the bill Sen. Millner only said that they have been kept in the loop every step of the way. The bill will now be considered by the House.

SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility extends or provides flexibility regarding certain education deadlines and spending restrictions. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.


2021 WEEK IN REVIEW: February 16-19

New budget projections show additional funding is available to support education programs, including several items requested by the UEA to support educators and students. The projections are above the historic funding already voted by the legislature earlier in the session. Bills on the move this week include a step towards loosening mask requirements, elimination of doctors notes for absences, and call for instruction on Native American culture. The number of education-related bills appears to be declining in recent years.

$315 million in additional funding available according to new estimates

The governor and the legislature released tax collection projections showing a significant increase in revenue available for next year’s budget. State tax collection estimates show lawmakers have an additional $315 in Education Fund revenue available this year: $80 million in ongoing and $235 million in one-time. A press release from the Governor’s Office and Legislature attributed the increase to “the longstanding strength of Utah’s economy, despite unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19.” This year, the legislature has already allocated a historic $400 million increase toward public education. The Legislature has indicated it also plans to provide a significant tax cut.

Fewer education bills being considered this year?

The UEA made a plea to the legislature in its 2021 Legislative Priorities to “reverse the overwhelming workload and support Utah educators during the COVID pandemic crisis by strictly limiting education-related bills to essential legislation…” So how are we doing? One way to measure is to compare the number of bills being tracked. At the end of WEEK FIVE, the UEA was tracking 67 bills. That’s down from 81 last year and 85 at the same time in 2019 and significantly below the 120 bills tracked at the end of WEEK FIVE in 2016.

Committee considers whether schools can enforce mask wearing

A watered-down version of a bill that would have allowed school districts to ignore health orders regarding mask mandates in schools passed a Senate committee. SB187 (2nd sub): Local Education Agency Policies Amendments was substituted in the committee to remove language regarding mask mandates but would still require health departments to consult with LEAs on health orders related to mask mandates. The bill passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a vote of 5-2 then was substituted again on the Senate floor. The UEA opposes this bill.

No more doctor notes required for student absences

Bills to make it easier for students to be excused for mental health concerns and to prohibit requiring doctor notes for absences are on the way to the governor. HB81: Mental Health Days for Students adds mental or behavioral health as a valid excuse for a school absence. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. HB116: Student Attendance Amendments prohibits requiring documentation from a medical professional for an absence due to mental or physical illness. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 27-2.

House votes down a resolution urging public schools to retire Native American mascots

Removing Native American mascots and providing instruction on Native American history and culture will not have support from the legislature. The House downed HCR3 (2nd sub): Concurrent Resolution Regarding Native American Mascots and Equality in Public Schools on a vote of 27-45. The bill would have recognized “the harm done by using Native American mascots, encourages schools in the public education system to consider retiring those mascots, and encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to provide instruction in Native American culture and history.”

Other education bills on the move during WEEK FIVE

  • HB38: School Technology Amendments requires a digital resource provider to ensure that the digital resource provider's products used in public schools block "obscene or pornographic material.” The UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because adequate filters already exist to block inappropriate material. It passed the House unanimously and will now be considered by the Senate.
  • HB42 (1st sub): Education Agency Report Process Amendments removes some existing reports and requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish a policy or procedures to evaluate the impact any report required in a rule proposed by the state board may have on reporting requirements for a local education agency. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and the full Senate on a vote of 24-1. It now goes to the governor for signature.
  • HB124 (1st sub): Civics Education Amendments changes the start date for a civics engagement pilot program created in last year’s legislative session from 2020-21 to 2021-22. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
  • HB134 (1st sub): Notice of Public Education Reporting Requirement requires that the legislature indicate whether a bill will impact reporting requirements for school districts and charter schools. The UEA supports this bill. It passed both the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate unanimously. It now goes to the governor.
  • HB177 (3rd sub): Health Education Amendments requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements that include instruction on consent and what does not constitute consent. The bill also includes curriculum on and sexual violence behavior prevention. It would be an opt-in choice for students. The UEA supports this bill. After considerable debate, it narrowly passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 6-5.
  • HB182 (1st sub): Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies existing statute to identify the appropriate court of appeals for an educator who appeals a termination by a school district. UEA brought this issue to the legislature. The bill originally failed on a vote of 34-36 but after a language change and substitution, it was reconsidered and passed the House unanimously. It now goes to the Senate.
  • HB222: School Land Trust Program Amendments amends provisions related to reporting and the administration of the School Learning and Nurturing Development Trust Program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the governor.
  • HB233: Education Immunization Modifications prohibits higher education institutions and local education agencies that offer both remote and in-person learning from requiring a vaccine-exempt student to participate remotely rather than in-person. The UEA opposes this bill because it usurps the authority of the Health Department. It passed the House on a vote of 48-22 and now go to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB258 (2nd sub): Firearm Safety in Schools creates an optional pilot program for schools to teach firearm safety as an elective course in grades 9-12. The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 6-3 and the full House on a vote of 47-21. It now goes to the Senate.
  • HB300: Reporting Requirements for Local Education Agencies requires the State Board of Education to work with local education agencies to develop a process to review reports required in statute and state board rule. The UEA supports this bill. It passed both the House Education Committee and the full House unanimously and now go to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB302 (2nd sub.): Preserving Sports for Female Students requires public schools to designate athletic activities as either “boys”, “girls” or “coed” and prohibits male students at birth who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports. The UEA opposes this legislation because it would supersede existing UHSAA policy that already provides protection regarding transgender participation in sports. The House passed the bill on a vote of 50-23.
  • HB304 (2nd sub): Digital Opportunity Access Amendments implements measures to increase broadband infrastructure, digital access, and digital equity. The UEA supports this bill. It passed on a vote of 59-4 and now go to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB308: Covid-19 Vaccine Amendments prohibits a governmental entity from requiring that an individual receive a vaccine for COVID-19. It passed the House Government Operations Committee unanimously.
  • HB323 (1st sub): High Poverty Schools Teacher Bonus Program Amendments addresses an existing program that bases a teacher bonus on high student test scores. Because statewide standardized assessments were not completed in the spring of 2020, data does not exist to award the teacher bonus for this year. The bill makes an allowance for the 2020-21 year only to use test scores from 2018-19 to award the bonus. UEA opposes the bill because it ties teacher pay to student test scores. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously and the full House on a vote of 52-12. It now go to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB343: School Emergency Drills Amendments provides flexibility for schools during the 2021-22 school year only to choose whether to hold standard emergency drills or provide in-class instruction in lieu of a drill. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 10-3.
  • HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for parents and families. The UEA opposes the resolution because it ignores the importance of high educational standards and taxpayer accountability. It passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-1 and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HCR15: Concurrent Resolution Emphasizing the Importance of Civics Education recognizes the critical role of an engaged and informed citizenry and the importance of civics education. The resolution also encourages the creation of a broad-based and informal working group to review civics education. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB92 (2nd sub): Elections Amendments provides that a regulated officeholder is not required to file a conflict-of-interest disclosure at the time of filing for reelection to office if the regulated officeholder already filed a disclosure earlier the same year and indicates that the disclosure is accurate and up-to-date. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now go to the House for consideration.
  • SB115 (1st sub): Retirement System Transparency Requirements requires certain employers that participate in the URS to disclose employee compensation information through the Utah Public Finance Website or the employer’s own website. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate a vote of 23-5 and now goes to the House.
  • SB125 (1st sub): Open and Public Meetings Act Amendments requires a public body convening an electronic meeting to provide facilities at an anchor location for the public to attend the meeting. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature.
  • SB131 (2nd sub): Public Education Buildings Standards and Process changes requirements for creating a facilities plan regarding new construction, maintenance and renovation of school buildings. The UEA believes this is better handled as a local issue. It passed the Senate on a vote of 24-5 and now go to the House for consideration.
  • SB142: Public Education Funding Amendments implements several recommendations from a recent comprehensive funding study. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB145: Military Family Education Amendments creates greater flexibility for enrolling in school students of military families moving in to and out of Utah. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB154: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments adds teachers with a deaf education license to this existing salary supplement program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB175 (2nd sub): Special Education Least Restrictive Requirement Amendments creates certain allowances for state special education funding that are different from federal requirements. Sen Anderegg said he recognized there were still concerns with the substitute bill and that a second substitute was being developed. UEA opposed the original bill. It narrowly passed the Senate Education Committee on a vote of 3-2 and was later substituted in the Senate.
  • SB178: Education Deadline and Fiscal Flexibility extends or provides flexibility regarding certain education deadlines and spending restrictions. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

UEA Legislative Team delivers legislative update

The UEA Legislative Team provided its weekly Capitol Insights virtual update to UEA members on Thursday, February 18. The Team provides the briefings each Thursday at 4:30 p.m. during the Legislative Session.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ share lobbying experiences

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

  • The Power to Implement Change and Make a Difference – by UEA Policy Ambassador Shandré Call, English teacher at East High School in Salt Lake City School District
    …As a new American, I am poignantly aware of my freedoms and rights and the need to contribute meaningfully in whatever ways I can. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and, like all teachers everywhere, I want to make a difference and provide my students with an education that will give them options to follow dreams and successful life paths of their own choosing. Being a UEA Policy Ambassador this year is another step to help me do so. Join with me and your local association and the larger UEA family to create lasting change. As so many of my co-ambassadors have expressed: Our voices matter. Laws that affect us and our students don’t happen in isolation and part of our legislators’ and representatives’ duties is to hear us and be guided by our input. I am learning that they will listen if we speak. And when our voices band together, the sound we make is even louder…read the full article from Shandré Call

  • Teachers Make a Difference – by UEA Policy Ambassador Aaron Webb, music teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School in Park City School District
    …Our stories as educators and our expertise are badly needed in politics. Despite the warmth and respect for the (teaching) profession, many lawmakers and members of the public in general do not yet grasp the full educational, social, economic and human impact of potential legislation like House Bill 302 (Preserving Sports for Female Students), or House Concurrent Resolution 8 (Concurrent Resolution on Education). Who does? That’s right, educators. And what is our job? That’s right, to teach – not just our students, but our communities and legislators as well. As teachers, we are uniquely situated to make a difference. We know that in order to reach our students we must build relationships. We must meet our students where they are and build upon their existing strengths. We must encourage and challenge our students to be the best they can be. We must apply the same skills to educate our community and elected leaders about what is happening in our schools…read the full article from Aaron Webb

  • The Importance of Holocaust Education – by UEA Policy Ambassador Tony Zani, literacy coach at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City School District
    I’ve really enjoyed that the Utah Legislature has put all of its meetings online. It’s so nice to be able eavesdrop on committee meetings during my lunch break! Even better, the meetings are recorded and you can jump to the part of the meetings that pertain to your interests. A big frustration I’ve had in past years is taking a day off to go the Capital Hill to try and get a chance to speak about a bill only to have the committee not get to that particular bill. If you haven’t had a chance, I encourage you to look at the legislative calendar and listen in on some of the discussion and debate on bills. While I was eavesdropping this week, I overheard a discussion on a concurrent resolution on Holocaust education . This was the first I’d heard of this and I was curious. A resolution is not a law, it’s a statement from the legislature. In this case, it’s an encouragement for the State Board of Education and local education agencies to provide Holocaust and genocide education…Read the full article from Tony Zani


2021 WEEK FOUR IN REVIEW: February 8-12

The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee made its final recommendation for education funding during WEEK FOUR. The recommendation included items requested by the UEA. Bills moving through the legislative process this week would make it more difficult for citizens to be involved in the political process and make it easier for students to be excused for mental health concerns.

Public ed funding committee submits final budget recommendations


2021 Utah Teacher of the Year John Arthur,
shown here addressing the Capitol Insights
legislative briefing, 
was recognized on the
Senate floor February 11 for being named a
National 
Teacher of the Year finalist.
During its final meeting of the 2021 General Session, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee presented its final recommendations for education funding priorities. The recommended priorities include $8.6 million for Optional Enhanced Kindergarten, $5 million for HB114: Early Learning Training and Assessment Amendments (defunded in 2020), $900,000 for EARS, $7.5 million for Utah K-12 Computer Science Initiative, $700,000 for USDB additional FTE, $4 million for the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, $5 million for UPSTART and $4 million for MOST. All subcommittee recommendations will be considered by the Executive Appropriations Committee, with final funding decisions made in a few weeks (see How the Public Education Budget is Set).

Bill barring transgender youth from girls’ sports moves forward on narrow vote

Following a lengthy debate, a bill to define gender and prohibit individuals who are male at birth from participating in athletic programs designated for girls narrowly passed the House Education Committee. HB302 (1st sub.): Preserving Sports for Female Students requires public schools to designate athletic activities as either “boys”, “girls” or “coed” and prohibits male students at birth who identify as female from participating in girls’ sports. The UEA opposes this legislation because it would supersede existing UHSAA policy that already provides protection regarding transgender participation in sports. Following the vote of 8-6 in the committee, the bill will now be considered by the full House.

Switching political parties and initiating a public initiative or referenda could become more difficult

Two bills, both opposed by the UEA, would make it make it more difficult for citizens to be directly involved in the political process:

  • HB197 (3rd sub): Voter Affiliation Amendments makes it more cumbersome for voters to change their party affiliation in even-numbered years. The UEA opposes the bill because voters should have the flexibility to affiliate with a political party as they see fit. It passed the House on a vote of 41-30 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB136: Initiative and Referenda Modifications makes several changes to the initiative and referenda process. The UEA opposes this bill because it makes it more difficult for the public to participate directly in creating and changing legislation. It passed the House on a vote of 42-30 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Other education bills on the move during WEEK FOUR

  • HB38: School Technology Amendments requires a digital resource provider to ensure that the digital resource provider's products used in public schools block "obscene or pornographic material.” The UEA believes this bill is unnecessary because adequate filters already exist to block inappropriate material. It passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously.
  • HB81: Mental Health Days for Students adds mental or behavioral health as a valid excuse for a school absence. The UEA believes this bill is unnecessary. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB105: Students with Disabilities Amendments amends a formula related to add-on weighted pupil units for students with disabilities. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB116: Student Attendance Amendments prohibits requiring documentation from a medical professional for an absence due to mental or physical illness. The UEA believes this is better handled as a local issue. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HB177: Health Education Amendments requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements that include instruction on consent and what does not constitute consent. The bill also includes curriculum on and sexual violence behavior prevention. A motion passed to hold the bill in the House Education Committee to make changes in an attempt to gain more support. The UEA supports this bill.
  • HB222: School Land Trust Program Amendments amends provisions related to reporting and the administration of the School Learning and Nurturing Development Trust Program. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full Senate.
  • HCR3: Concurrent Resolution Regarding Native American Mascots and Equality in Public Schools recognizes “the harm done by using Native American mascots and encourages schools in the public education system to retire those mascots.” The bill also encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to provide instruction in Native American culture and history. The UEA supports this resolution. The resolution passed the House Education Committee by a 6-5 vote.
  • HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for parents and families. The UEA opposes the resolution because it ignores the importance of high educational standards and taxpayer accountability. It passed the House on a vote of 53-14 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
  • SB72: Open and Public Meetings Amendments prohibits a vote in a closed meeting, except to end the closed portion of the meeting and provides that a motion to end the closed portion of a meeting may be approved by a majority vote. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.
  • SB115: Retirement System Transparency Requirements requires certain employers that participate in the URS to disclose employee compensation information through the Utah Public Finance Website or the employer’s own website. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee on a vote of 5-3.
  • SB118: State School Board Candidate Amendments lowers the signature threshold for Utah State Board candidates from 2,000 voter signatures to 1,000 signatures. The bill was held by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee on a vote of 4-2. The UEA supports this bill.
  • SB142: Public Education Funding Amendments requires the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to complete an evaluation of public education funding and to make recommendations for future legislation. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.
  • SB154: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments adds educators with a deaf education license to the TSSP. This would be a small adjustment, affecting seven educators employed at USDB. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House. UEA supports the bill.
  • SCR1: Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education highlights the importance of Holocaust and genocide education and encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to emphasize the importance of this course of study. It passed the House Education Committee and the full House unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature. The UEA supports this resolution.

UEA Legislative Team delivers legislative update

The UEA Legislative Team provided its weekly Capitol Insights virtual update to UEA members on Thursday, February 11. The Team provides the briefings each Thursday at 4:30 p.m. during the Legislative Session.

UEA Policy Ambassadors share messages

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

  • Every Voice is Needed – by UEA Policy Ambassador Elliott Tupea, business teacher at Hunter High School in Granite School District
    “…We live in a great country and state that has provided opportunity for all. The United States is a Federal Constitutional Republic. What this means, in essence, is that your “voice” is significant to the future of Utah and even the country. We hold the authority but our “representatives” exercise that on our behalf. We need your voice! I became an educator many years ago because I wanted to impact the future. As I began teaching, I noticed several inequities for our students. Many students, because of where they live, were not given the opportunities that others of a different ZIP code had. I became a member of the Utah Education Association to give voice to these inequities. My choice has impacted many lives in a positive way…”
  • Stand Up and Speak Out – by UEA Policy Ambassador Brian Barnum, school counselor at Kearns High School in Granite School District
    “Did you wake up this morning thinking, ‘I really want to advocate today?’ Most educators do not start their careers thinking that a day at the capitol for a legislative session or advocating for school counseling positions at a state school board meeting is a part of their job description. I am sure many of us are even unaware of the great impact we can have by making an impression in a committee hearing or with a state representative. However, doing these things is integral to how we, as educators, do our job…”
  • Teaching, Learning and ‘Finding Zen’ During COVID -19 – by UEA Policy Ambassador Kristine Martin, math teacher at Grand Middle School in Grand County School District
    “…Students are coming and going in our blended online/in-person classrooms (home sick, traveling, concerns about COVID exposures). Families and teachers have made headway for students and teachers to stay in touch while the student is not present. Daily we adapt to changes and go with the flow. Teachers are there to teach. We get joy from the kiddo who says, “I got it” or “I don’t get it.” It says they are engaged and participating in their future. My kiddos know when they are out of balance and will ask for a moment of Zen (which is a bell I ring and give them something to think about, like what you hear during the bell sound in a darkened classroom) then they share. It takes 2-3 minutes, and they are relaxed and ready to learn…”
  • Following the Money – by UEA Policy Ambassador Victoria Mauro, science teacher at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City School District
    “I’m betting many of you, like me, were brought up on the adage, ‘there are three things you should never talk about: money, religion, and politics.’ Clearly, as I write this UEA Policy Ambassador message I have overcome any aversion I may have possessed to talking about politics, but it still felt a little uncomfortable to talk about money. That is, until I watched my first Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee meeting and recognized the power of money to make vital changes to our educational institutions. Whether we talk about it or not, money is the life blood of our capitalist system and in order to affect any meaningful change in education, we need the funding to support it. Learning about the state education budget was one of the most empowering things I have ever done as an educator…”


WEEK IN REVIEW: February 1-5, 2021

Never has Utah public education seen a funding increase signed into law by WEEK THREE of the legislative session. It happened on Friday when the Governor signed a Public Education Base Budget that increases the WPU by 6% and provides educator bonuses. The 48 education-related bills currently tracked by UEA remains low compared to recent years. Bills moving through the process included measures to provide state tax credits for Social Security income, clarify the school employee dismissal and appeals process, evaluate public education funding and change the public initiative and referendum process.

Governor meets with the UEA and signs historic ed funding bill


Members of the UEA Legislative Team met virtually
with Gov. Spencer Cox and Senior Advisor for Education
Brittney Cummins on Feb. 2.
Governor Spencer Cox signed all the 2021 Base Budget bills passed by the legislature on Feb. 5, including the Public Education Base Budget. This year’s Public Education Base Budget sets a new precedence as it includes growth and inflation. It also adds 6% to the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) and bonuses of $1,500 for licensed educators and $1,000 for most classified employees. (See more about the public education budget.)

Gov. Cox conveyed his appreciation for teachers during a meeting with the UEA Legislative Team on Feb. 2, saying he knows ‘actions speak louder than words.’ He expressed hope his actions will show the state’s gratitude. During the meeting, which also included Senior Advisor for Education Brittney Cummins, the UEA Team shared legislative priorities and funding needs.

Public ed funding committee hears funding requests exceeding available revenue

UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones
and President Heidi Matthews met virtually with
Sen. Jerry Stevenson, co-chair of the Executive
Appropriations Committee to discuss education funding.
With the heavy lifting of a public education budget increase completed through the Base Budget, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee continued to hear requests for additional new funding to be included in the final budget. The subcommittee heard dozens of requests during WEEK THREE, including a request from the UEA to restore the MOST(USTAR) and the rural school district funding cut from last year. See a summary of the appropriation requests and potential draft funding motions prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s office.

Any additional budget increases are recommended by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to the Executive Appropriations Committee and voted on by the full legislature later in the session (see How the Public Education Budget is Set).

UEA-initiated bill to clarify school employee appeals process clears committee unanimously

The UEA brought a bill to the legislature to clarify the dismissal and appeals process for a school district employee. HB182: Educator Hearings Amendments clarifies existing statute to identify the appropriate court of appeals for an educator who appeals a termination by a school district. The bill cleared its first hurdle, passing the House Education Committee unanimously. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

Other education bills on the move during WEEK THREE included the following:

  • HB81: Mental Health Days for Students includes mental health as a reason that a parent can excuse an absence for a student. The UEA believes this bill in unnecessary. It passed the House on a vote of 60-5.
  • HB86: Social Security Tax Amendments enacts a tax credit for Social Security benefits included in federal adjusted gross income. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB93: Youth Suicide Prevention Programs Amendments requires school districts and charter schools to ensure coordination between youth suicide prevention programs and certain other prevention programs. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on a vote of 9-1.
  • HB116: Student Attendance Amendments prohibits school districts and charter schools from requiring a doctor’s note to excuse an absence. The UEA believes this is better handled as a local issue. The bill passed the House on a vote of 48-22.
  • HB136: Initiative and Referenda Modifications is another attempt by the legislature to make it more difficult for the public to participate directly in the legislative process. The UEA opposes this bill. It passed the House Government Operations Committee on a vote of 8-3.
  • HB181: Personalized Competency-based Learning makes technical changes to update language and definitions regarding personalized, competency-based learning. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor for signature.
  • HB222: School Land Trust Program Amendments makes technical changes to reporting and the website of the School Land Trust Program. The changes are all supported by the Utah State Board of Education and many other education stakeholders, including the UEA. The bill passed the House unanimously.
  • HCR8: Concurrent Resolution on Education reaffirms existing code about flexibility and school choice options for families. UEA Government Relations Director Sara Jones spoke against the bill stating that to reaffirm school choice without also reaffirming the need for consistent high educational standards and taxpayer accountability for every publicly funded education program is a concern. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 10-4.
  • SB72: Open and Public Meetings Amendments prohibits a vote in a closed meeting, except to end the closed portion of the meeting and provides that a motion to end the closed portion of a meeting may be approved by a majority vote. The bill passed the both the full Senate and the House Government Operations Committee unanimously. It now goes to the full House.
  • SB125: Open and Public Meetings Act Amendments requires a public body convening an electronic meeting to provide facilities at an anchor location for the public to attend the meeting. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House.
  • SB131: Public Education Buildings Standards and Process changes requirements for creating a facilities plan regarding new construction, maintenance and renovation of school buildings. The bill was substituted in the Senate Education Committee and passed on a vote of 3-1.
  • SB142: Public Education Funding Amendments requires the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to complete an evaluation of public education funding and to make recommendations for future legislation. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.
  • SB145: Military Family Education Amendments clarifies and eases enrollment requirements for children of military families moving into and out of the state. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously. UEA supports the bill.
  • SB154: Teacher Salary Supplement Program Amendments adds educators with a deaf education license to the TSSP. This would be a small adjustment, affecting seven educators employed at USDB. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously. UEA supports the bill.
  • SCR1: Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education highlights the importance of Holocaust and genocide education and encourages the State Board of Education and local education agencies to emphasize the importance of this course of study. It passed the Senate unanimously. The UEA supports this resolution.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ Share Lobbying Experiences

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here are a few excerpts from this week’s submissions (click the title to read the full article)...

  • BIPOC Educators: United We Can – by Ana Alcala, Spanish teacher at Hidden Valley Middle School in Jordan School District
    Teaching middle school comes with its challenges and rewards. This year as I introduced myself to my online and in-person classes, a student approached to introduce herself. I was surprised as my student felt comfortable sharing her likes, dislikes and family background. Towards the end of our conversation, she said, “I have never had a teacher that looks like me.” Her words stayed with me and I realized why it’s important to have diverse representation in our schools. We share similar identities, backgrounds and are first generation Latina American…
  • As a Teacher, You Have Something to Say…This is the Time to Say It – by Sarah Nichols, resource teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City School District
    When I first began teaching, I was given two excellent pieces of advice: “don’t speak unless the students are listening” and “don’t speak unless you have something to say.” The first one was about classroom management—if a teacher is in the habit of trying to lecture over the voices of noisy, distracted students, she won’t be heard. This is why attention signals and the infamous “teacher look” were invented. After a little bit of practice, I was really good at waiting to speak until the students were listening. The second piece of advice can be trickier. If you’re like me, you may not be skilled at picking concise and precise ways to express yourself. Like me, you might stumble over words or excitedly overshare. Like me, you may not make every monologue meaningful. But like me, you do have something to say…
  • Read all the 2021 UEA Policy Ambassador messages

Weekly Legislative Briefing

The UEA Legislative Team provides a weekly Capitol Insights virtual update to UEA members each Thursday at 4:30 p.m.


2021 WEEK IN REVIEW: January 25-29

The big news this week was passage of an historic Public Education Base Budget. For the first time ever, the Base Budget includes growth and inflation. It also includes a 6% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit and bonuses of $1,500 for licensed educators and $1,000 for classified school staff.

By the end of WEEK TWO, number of education bills tracked by the UEA jumped over 40, but remained fewer than in recent years. Education bills publicly discussed this week included measures to make mental health days excusable as student absences and to prohibit schools from requiring doctor’s notes for absences.

UEA Team Met with Legislative Leadership to Urge Support for Educators


UEA President Heidi Matthews (right) and Government
Relations Director Sara Jones met with Senate
President Stuart Adams at the Capitol Jan. 25.
Much of the work this week happened behind the scenes. Among many other meetings, UEA President Heidi Matthews and Government Relations Director Sara Jones met at the Capitol with Senate President Stuart Adams and UEA Director of Research Jay Blain had a virtual meeting with Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee and a sponsor of several public education bills. Matthews, Jones and other members of the UEA Legislative Team also met virtually with House Speaker Brad Wilson.

Historic ed base budget, subcommittee hears additional budget requests

Teacher bonuses and a 6% increase in the Weighted Pupil Unit (WPU) are now awaiting approval from the governor after SB1: Public Education Base Budget Amendments passed the House and Senate this week. In previous years, funding increases were not known until the session’s closing days. This marks the first year legislators must include student enrollment growth and inflation in the Base Budget, thanks to legislation passed in 2020 with efforts of the UEA. The bill includes a total funding increase near 6% on the Weighted Pupil Unit plus bonuses of $1,500 for licensed educators and $1,000 for classified employees who have direct contact with students.

Any additional budget increases will now be recommended by the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee to the Executive Appropriations Committee and voted on by the full legislature later in the session (see How the Public Education Budget is Set). The Subcommittee heard dozens of reports and budget request during three meetings this week.

Education Bills on the Move This Week

HB81: Mental Health Days for Students includes mental health as a reason that a parent can excuse an absence for a student. The UEA believes this bill in unnecessary. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB105: Students with Disabilities Amendments changes the formula for the growth factor for funding students with disabilities by cutting the 2-year lag to a one-year lag. It also increases the caps in the growth. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB116: Student Attendance Amendments prohibits school districts and charter schools from requiring a doctor’s note to excuse an absence. The UEA believes this is better handled as a local issue. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB134: Notice of Public Education Reporting Requirement requires that the legislature indicate whether a bill will impact reporting requirements for school districts and charters. The UEA supports this bill. It unanimously passed the House and now goes to the Senate.

HB181: Personalized Competency-based Learning makes technical changes to update language and definitions regarding personalized, competency-based learning. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 72-1 and the Senate Education Committee unanimously. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

HB222: School Land Trust Program Amendments makes technical changes to reporting and the website of the School Land Trust Program. The changes are all supported by the Utah State Board of Education and many other education stakeholders, including the UEA. The bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

SCR1: Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education continues work begun by Rep. Patrice Arent in 2020. The bill passed Senate Education Committee unanimously and now go to the full Senate.

Education ‘Policy Ambassadors’ Share Lobbying Experiences

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here are this week’s submissions...

In the Room Where It Happens – by UEA Policy Ambassador Hillary Emmer, school counselor at Copper Mountain Middle School in Jordan School District and president of the Utah School Counselor Association

“At the beginning of my endeavor as a UEA Policy Ambassador, I was intimidated, naive and completely scared out of my mind. So why did I volunteer for this? I had an epiphany that most of our political leaders really wanted to do the right thing, however, they were expected to be an expert in so many things. How could they possibly know what the right thing was when it came to work that they didn’t do every day? I wanted to be someone in their inner circle that they could reach out to and talk through issues that were being discussed. I wanted to become a person that they could rely on for times when items were out of their element but were completely in mine. Mostly, I wanted these representatives to know that I was someone who was willing to talk and listen through the issues that affect me and the work I do with students. I wanted to be “in the room where it happens”...Read the full article from Hillary Emmer

United We Stand – by UEA Policy Ambassador Brian Barnum, school counselor at Kearns High School in Granite School District

Educator is currently synonymous with the word teacher, but there are so many more stakeholders in a school building that impact our students’ education. Over the course of the last few decades, as we have seen the impact that the evolution from guidance counselor to school counselor with the implementation of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model, school counselors are continuing to become noticed and valued professionals. While we have made strides, we must continue to advocate, innovate and collaborate with other school-based specialists to positively promote our impact for the betterment of Utah’s students…” Read the full article from Brian Barnum

Hacking Shared Values…My Reflections on Week One – by UEA Policy Ambassador Aaron Webb, teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary School in Park City School District

What do I believe? I believe that education is the “silver bullet,” the great equalizer, and the vehicle for societal progression and transformation. I believe the world can be made better through better schools. How could anyone feel differently? There was no doubt in everyone’s minds -- teaching and learning remotely has strained the system and put the mental health and academic success of many adolescents in jeopardy. The majority of the committee members and a few members of the public shared familiar stories of personal struggle. Many parents demanded an in-person option in Salt Lake City School District, and being offered none until recently, turned to their elected representatives…” Read the full article from Aaron Webb


2021 WEEK IN REVIEW: January 19-22


Governor Spencer Cox delivered his first
State of the State address on January 21, 2021.
Photo: The Salt Lake Tribune
 pool

Speeches and presentations dominated public work during the WEEK ONE of the 2021 General Legislative Session, with most of the difficult work happening behind the scenes. Few public education bills moved during the first week, but it’s unlikely that situation will last long with the number of filed and numbered bills growing daily.

In an opening speech to legislators, Senate President Stuart Adams thanked teachers, but took a jab at Salt Lake City School District for not opening to full in-person instruction. Utah Governor Spencer Cox also praised educators and called for changes in the way public education is funded during a short State of the State address.

Among things lost to the pandemic, we can now add UEA Educator Day on the Hill. For the first time in many years, a legislative Friday passed without teachers gathering on Utah’s Capitol Hill to advocate for public education.

Public Education Budget

The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee heard many reports from education entities this week and heard details of the remarkable Base Budget proposal passed in December by the Executive Appropriations Committee (SB1: Public Education Base Budgetsee more about the FY2022 education budget). Reports included funding priority presentations from the State Board of Education, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and the School & Institutional Trust Fund Office (SITFO).

Governor, Senate President and House Speaker share praise for teachers during opening remarks

Touting it as “the shortest State of the State speech in Utah history,” newly elected Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox addressed a joint session of the Utah Legislature Jan. 21. A large portion of that speech was dedicated to education, including remarks directly to teachers. “Never in the history of our state have we felt (teachers’) influence or needed you more than right now. You have pivoted on a dime and figured out ways to do what seemed impossible,” he said. “(Teachers) deserve our respect. And they deserve a raise. I’m grateful to you legislators who agree and have pledged historic education funding this year, including $112 million dollars in bonuses for our teachers. In addition, I have proposed a nearly 6% increase in our state’s education funding — more than $400 million in all. And while I just referred to these investments as ‘historic,’ I’m looking forward to them becoming routine.”

The general theme for Speaker Brad Wilson’s opening address to the House of Representatives was, ‘Great moments are born from great opportunity.’ He stated there are three areas to build on for equality in the state: education, housing and healthcare. Specifically, in education he mentioned critical thinking, financial literacy and civics as being necessary in every classroom.

In his opening comments to the Utah Senate, Senate President Stuart Adams said he is “especially proud of our teachers. I am grateful for the efforts of those who have made the classroom clean and safe so that our children and grandchildren can get the best in-person education possible under the circumstances. They are the unsung heroes of 2020.” Pres. Adams said opening the economy has led to budget surpluses that will benefit students. “Last summer, we funded a 1.8% increase in the WPU for teachers, the only state in the nation to increase education spending during a pandemic. In December, we went a step further. The Executive Appropriations Committee recommended the full reinstatement of the 6% increase in the WPU.” Pres. Adams then directed comments to the current situation in Salt Lake City School District, saying “parents should have the option to have their kids in the classroom. We are seeing alarming reports in the Salt Lake City School District where there is not option for in-person learning.”

Education bills begin to appear and move through the process

Included among the handful of education bills publicly discussed during WEEK ONE was a resolution to recognize former educator, NEA State Director and legislator Lawanna Shurtliff. There was little public discussion on education bills the first week, but that should change quickly as the number of bills grows daily. The UEA Legislative Team has its hands full reading and prioritizing each bill, then working closely with sponsoring legislators to ensure they understand the needs and concerns of educators in crafting their bills. By the end of WEEK ONE, the number of education bills tracked by the UEA had grown to 31 (see the current UEA Legislative Tracking Sheet). Here are the UEA-tracked bills moving during the week:

  • HCR7: Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the Public Service of Representative Lawanna “Lou” Shurtliff passed both the House and Senate unanimously and now goes to the governor for signature. Rep. Shurtliff was serving as a member of the Utah House representing Ogden’s District 10 when she passed away earlier in January. She was a school teacher and previously served as president of the Ogden Education Association president and a Board member of National Education Association representing Utah.
  • HB42: Education Agency Report Process Amendments removes some existing reports and requires the Utah State Board of Education to establish a policy or procedures to evaluate the impact any report required in a rule proposed by the state board may have on reporting requirements for a local education agency. The UEA supports this bill. It passed the House on a vote of 72-1 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
  • HB124: Civics Engagement Pilot Program Amendments simply changes the start date for a civics engagement pilot program created in last year’s legislative session from 2020-21 to 2021-22. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 13-1.
  • HB134: Notice of Public Education Reporting Requirement requires that the legislature indicate whether a bill will impact reporting requirements for school districts and charters. It passed the House Education Committee unanimously.
  • HB181: Personalized Competency-based Learning updates language and definitions regarding personalized, competency-based learning. It passed the House Education Committee on a vote of 10-1.
  • SB11: Retirement Income Tax Amendments creates an individual income tax credit for certain social security benefits and an individual income tax credit for military retirement pay. It passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.
  • SB107: In-Person Instruction Prioritization states that any district or charter school that “does not provide a broad-based in-person learning option for all students in kindergarten through grade 12 by February 8, 2021” will face funding consequences including requiring the district to pay up to 75% of the cost of private school tuition for families wanting in-person instruction. The bill targets the Salt Lake City School District, the only district that does not currently have an in-person learning option for students. There was extensive committee discussion with Senate President Adams saying there is “nothing punitive about this bill.” UEA President Heidi Matthews spoke against the bill stating that SB107 is simply the legislature “flexing its muscles” and threatens the kind of collaborative efforts that achieved the historic funding proposals seen this year. The bill the Senate Education Committee passed on a vote of 5-2. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

UEA Policy Ambassador message

Eleven educators were selected to become 2021 UEA Policy Ambassadors. These teachers received training from the UEA Legislative Team and have agreed to participate in UEA legislative activities, engage with their legislators and share their experiences with UEA members. Here is an excerpt from a new submission...

  • As a Teacher, Your Job is Political – by UEA Policy Ambassador Hunter Clapsadl, sixth-grade teacher at Diamond Ridge Elementary School in Granite School District
    “…As we have all seen, this year has been one of the most politically charged, dividing times we have experienced as educators. We’ve seen COVID completely change the structure of our school and social communities, watched and stood with those demanding equality in our country and even witnessed an attack on our nation’s capital. As an adult I have struggled to process these events and how they affect me”
    read the full article from Hunter Clapsadl

Read the full 2021 WEEK ONE report


Staying connected during the 2021 General Legislative Session – January 13, 2021

Like many other things during COVID-19, the 2021 Utah Legislative Session will look very different than in previous years. While there are no planned in-person Educator Day on the Hill activities at the Capitol, there are still plenty of opportunities to stay informed and for your voice to be heard, including several new activities for 2021:

Weekly Briefing

Join the UEA Legislative Team for a UEA Capitol Insights Zoom briefing each Thursday at 4:30 p.m. during the legislative session. You’ll hear the latest updates on important education issues and have the chance to ask questions of the UEA lobby team. Register here (register once and you can use the link to join each week).

Email Updates

Receive regular email updates during 2021 Legislative Session by registering as a UEA activist. Sign up to be a UEA activist and receive the UEA Capitol Insights e-newsletter here.

Live Video Updates

Watch for regular Facebook Live updates from your UEA Legislative Team at the Capitol. Follow the UEA on Facebook at facebook.com/UtahEducationAssociation.

Lobbying Training Videos

Watch UEA videos on effective virtual lobbying during the 2021 Legislative Session.

View more 2021 UEA Legislative Activities


2021 UEA Legislative Priorities

For the 2021 General Session, the UEA asks the legislature to reverse the overwhelming workload and support Utah educators during the COVID pandemic crisis by strictly limiting education-related bills to essential legislation that must be accomplished during the 2021 General Session. The 2021 UEA legislative priorities call on legislatures to fully restore $140 million in WPU funding cut during 2020 interim special sessions; fully fund student enrollment growth; include a WPU inflation adjustment in the Base Budget; and support long-term education economic stabilization through a working fund.

The UEA also asks the legislature to reinstate other cuts made during 2020 interim special sessions, to hold all schools harmless for enrollment fluctuations during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID, and to allocate $40 million in one-time funding for COVID-related expenses. The UEA continues to oppose schemes (such as vouchers or tax credits) that funnel public education money to personal student accounts or privately-run entities where taxpayer accountability is lost.


Legislative Archives