Today is the last day for committee meetings. While bills typically go through a committee hearing where public comment is accepted before heading to a floor vote, this is not technically necessary. However, it is unusual for this to happen. So the bills that have not made it to the Senate or House calendar by the end of today are unlikely to be passed this session. However, these bills are a good indicator of what’s to be debated in interim and introduced next session.
Expect at least one bill that failed yesterday to make a comeback. S.B. 65 Statewide Online Education Program, by Sen. Howard Stephenson (R-Draper), failed on the Senate floor in a 13-10 vote. The bill sought to create a statewide online education program that would use state funds to contract with public and private online education providers. However, the Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Stephenson wants to bring the bill back to the floor for another vote before the end of the session next week. The State Board of Education has formally recommended that this bill instead go to interim study to thoroughly review its impact before the legislature takes action on it.
Here’s what else happened yesterday at the Utah Capitol:
- HB 123 K-12 Education Amendments, by Rep. Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork) was held in the House Education Committee. The bill would radically change how public education is funded. The bill’s sponsor told the committee he still had some work to do on the bill and asked the committee to pass the bill so he could continue to work on it over the next five days and bring it to a vote on the House floor. The committee decided instead that the bill needed more study. The Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee has asked for two extra meetings to study HB 123 over the interim session.
- H.B. 134 Focus on Primary Classroom Teachers Program, Rep. Jim Nielson (R-Bountiful), was substituted and passed the Utah House with a 62-11 vote. The bill originally attempted to direct funding to schools that focused on funding classroom teachers first. The substitute instead sets up new reporting requirements to determine a baseline for the number of front-line teachers in public schools. Since it wasn’t scheduled for hearing today, in order to pass this session, it must be placed on the Senate reading calendar.
- H.B. 195 Debt Service Obligations of a Divided School District, by Rep. Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork), passed both votes in the Utah Senate with a single unanimous vote of the body, under suspension of the rules. The bill had been on the consent calendar to expedite this final leg in the legislative process. The bill that modifies how taxes are levied on property within a new and remaining district to pay off the debt of a divided school district now heads to the governor for consideration.
- H.B. 275 School District Division Amendments, by Rep. Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork), passed both Senate readings with a single unanimous vote under suspension of the rules. The bill now heads to the governor. It also modifies requirements for the imposition of property taxes in a new and remaining school district after a school district split.
- H.B. 284 Guardianship Amendments, by Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Provo), failed in the House Judiciary Committee with a 4-3 vote. However, the bill is back on the House Judiciary Committee agenda this afternoon. The bill eliminates a local school board’s ability to designate guardians for students within its district, among other changes.
- S.B. 278 Charter School Property Tax Amendments, by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), passed the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously and has been placed on the Senate consent calendar, expediting its votes in this body. The bill provides that, for purposes of a property tax exemption, a charter school is considered a school district. It also makes this retroactive to 2008.
Meanwhile, five new bills were unveiled by lawmakers hoping to squeeze them in on the last day of committee meetings. These are:
- H.B. 145 Public School Privacy Amendments, by Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy), requires the State Board of Education to establish public school student confidentiality standards; develop resource materials; and provide these materials to each school district and charter school, among other changes.
- H.B. 339 Charter School Enrollment Amendments, by Rep. Eric Hutchings (R-Kearns), allows the State Board of Education to annually increase charter school enrollment by 2% of the total school district enrollment in the prior school year.
- H.B. 346 Provisional Teaching Modifications, by Rep. Chris Herrod (R-Provo), prohibits schools from granting career status or so-called teacher tenure to educators hired after July 1 of this year.
- H.B. 388 Operation and Management of Charter Schools, by Rep. Chris Herrod (R-Provo), prohibits a chartering entity from imposing performance standards that would limit a charter school from accomplishing the purposes of charter schools and states that neither a chartering entity nor the state is liable for the debts or financial obligations of the charter school; among other provisions.
- S.B. 278 Charter School Property Tax Amendments, by Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), provides that, for purposes of a property tax exemption, a charter school is considered a school district. It also makes this retroactive to 2008.