Half of session done, but new ed bills continue to pop up

Today, Utah’s general legislative session is officially half-way over and our education bills to watch list continues to grow. We have added 15 new bills to our list, bringing the total to 82. There are many more education bills that have been numbered, titled, but have no substance. These unknown bills some call boxcars because they can be substituted with text as long as the sponsor gets permission from the full body. There are more than three dozen of these that have titles relating to education.

The new bills include:

  • S.J.R 13 Joint Resolution – Request for Proposals, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), which deals with the process for state agencies issuing an RFP, analyzing responses and awarding contracts.
  • S.B. 73 Public School Teacher Tenure Modifications, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper). The bill outlines a system of evaluating teachers based on student performance and sets up a process for districts to take away career status, or “tenure,” from low performing teachers, among other provisions.
  • S.B. 146  Impact Fee Amendments, by Sen. Jerry Stevenson (R-Layton), recodifies the state’s Impact fees, allowing levies on impact fees on construction.
  • S.B. 179 Math Education Initiative, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), requires the State Board of Education to award grants to districts who want to adopt Singapore Math.
  • S.B. 206 Labor Organization Provisions in Teacher Contracts, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), requires labor organizations to immediately cancel membership and receipt of union dues upon request.
  • H.C.R. 13 Secure Rural Schools Concurrent Resolution, by Rep. Mike Noel (R-Kanab), expresses support for the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. The act pertains to annual payments made to States and counties containing National Forest System lands.
  • H.B. 69 Assault Amendments, by Rep. Jim Bird (West Jordan), increases the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony for a person who assaults an employee of a public or private school while they are working.
  • H.B. 133 Employee Compensation Amendments, by Rep. John Dougall (R-American Fork), eliminates public employees’ sick leave benefits.
  • H.B. 138 Federal Receipts Reporting Requirements, by Rep. Ken Ivory (R-West Jordan), requires state agencies to report how many federal funds are included in their budgets and to create a plan in case these funds are reduced by 25 percent or more.
  • H.B. 151 Compulsory Education Amendments, by Rep. Joel Briscoe (D-Salt Lake City), makes kindergarten a compulsory program in Utah by lowering the age in which children must be in school from six to five, though there is an option for parents to opt-out.
  • H.B. 172 Service Animal Amendments, Rep. Keith Grover (R-Provo), amends the definition of a service animal to follow federal regulations.
  • H.B. 327  Public Education Annual Report Amendments, by Rep. LaVar Christensen (R-Draper), requires the state superintendent to include in his annual report methods used to instruct and prepare students on how to become informed and responsible citizens.
  • H.B. 341 Interview of a Child Not in Protective or Legal State Custody, by Rep. Michael Morley (R-Spanish Fork), prohibits a law enforcement officer or the Division of Child and Family Services from interviewing a child at school without giving notice or receiving parental consent, if the child is not in protective custody.
  • H.B. 367  Utah Schools Seismic Hazard Inventory, by Rep. Larry Wiley (D-West Valley City), enacts the School Seismic Safety Act, requiring a school district or charter school to conduct a seismic evaluation of each school facility, among other requirements.
  • H.B. 423 Public School Seismic Safety Committee, by Rep. Larry Wiley (D-West Valley City), creates an advisory committee on seismic safety issues in public schools.

 Meanwhile, several bills inched forward in the legislative process yesterday, including:

  • H.B. 23 Controlled Substance Modifications, by Rep. Gage Froerer (R-Huntsville), was assigned to a conference committee for members of the House and Senate to work out their differences. The Senate amended this ban of synthetic marijuana, known as “spice,” to include “bath salts,” also a rising recreational drug problem. The House did not concur with these changes.
  • H.B. 50 School Termination Procedures Modifications, by Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove (R-Garland), unanimously passed the House and now moves to the Senate for further consideration. The bill puts in statute the current practice of treating provisional teachers as at-will employees and that districts are allowed to terminate them without cause.
  • H.B. 220 Civics Education Amendments, by Rep. Michael Morley (R-Spanish Fork), passed the House on a 57-17 vote. The bill requires the “thorough” teaching of historical American documents and various forms of government, including that the United States is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
  • S.B. 67 Sub. 1 Annual Eye Examination for Children in Grades Kindergarten through Three, by Sen. Luz Robles (D-Salt Lake City), was substituted in the Senate Education Committee to add limited immunity to eye screeners trained by the State Office of Education. The bill extends the public school vision screening age from seven to eight and requires schools to notify parents or guardians if students fail their eye test or require follow-up care.
  • S.B. 123 Restrictions on Lobbying Expenditures – Public Education, by Sen. Scott Jenkins (R-Plain City), passed the House Education Committee with unanimous support. The bill restricts school districts, traditional public schools and charter schools from hiring a contract lobbyist with state funds. It has already passed through the Senate and is one House-floor vote shy of becoming law.
  • S.B. 127 Post Retirement Employment Amendments, by Sen. Dan Liljenquist (R-Bountiful), unanimously passed the Senate Retirement and Independent Entities Committee. The bill is a fix from changes made to state employees’ retirement benefits last legislative session. The bill allows some state retirees to return to work part-time within a year of retirement. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
  • S.B. 140  State Charter School Board Amendments, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), passed its second vote on the Senate floor with unanimous support. The bill requiring three of the seven members on the State Charter School Board to be nominated by an association representing Utah charter schools now heads to the House for further consideration. The Utah State Board of Education has taken a position opposing this bill.
  •  S.B. 142 Public Official Contact Information, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), also passed its second vote of the full Senate and heads now to the House for consideration. The bill requires elected officials and school community council members to have a telephone and email address where they can be reached and makes this information public.

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