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Legislative Updates - 17 February 2014
First, here are some updates on bills mentioned in past GrassRoots updates:
HB33, “Reauthorization of Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism,” would eliminate the sunset date (currently July 1, 2014) for the sections of Utah Code authorizing the continued existence of the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism, thus making this Commission into a more permanent fixture in our government.
HB33 passed the House 58-11 on January 31st, and the Senate 22-1 on February 13th, and awaits consideration by the Governor.
GrassRoots favors a veto of HB33 by the Governor.
HB38Sub2, “Resource Stewardship Amendments,” is substantively the same as HB38Substitute (described last week), except that the new position of state director of resource stewardship would be filled by appointment by the executive director of the Department of Administrative Services—not by appointment by the Governor.
HB38 passed the House Government Operations Committee 8-0 on February 12th (as HB38Substitute) and awaits consideration by the full House (as HB38Sub2).
GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on HB38Sub2 as currently drafted.
HB96, “Utah School Readiness Initiative” would create the School Readiness Special Revenue Fund, and appropriate to this fund $5 million to fund and award grants to certain early childhood education programs.
HB96 passed the House 49-24 on Feb 11th, and awaits consideration by the Senate Education Committee. Senator Bramble is the sponsor of HB96 in the senate.
GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on HB96.
HB318, “Rights of Parents and Children Amendments” would permit a parent to request a jury trial in a proceeding for termination of parental rights, and would require the court to grant that request.
HB318 awaits consideration by the House Health and Human Services Committee.
GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB318.
SB128, “Safety Belt Amendments” would have provided, in certain cases, that drivers could be “pulled over” for seat belt violations. (Currently, those over 19 may only be cited for failure to wear a seat belt when being “pulled over” for something else.)
SB128 failed the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, and Technology Committee 1-2 on February 11th, and is likely dead for this session.
GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SB128.
SJR3, “Joint Resolution Regarding Attorney General,” proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to change the office of Attorney General from an elected office to an appointed office, and to provide that the Governor would appoint the Attorney General for a 6-year term from a list of nominees provided by a nominating commission.
SJR3 passed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee 6-0, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SJR3.
This week, several bills relating to education and schools in Utah have caught our attention. In our judgment of, and positions on, the following bills, various principles (including the following) have guided our thinking:
Here are, in our opinion, the most important education-related bills that have caught our attention:
HB77, “Tax Credit for Home Schooling Parent” sponsored by Representative Lifferth, would provide a nonrefundable tax credit ($500 for each home-schooled child) for a home-schooling parent.
HB77 awaits consideration by House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
When parents decide to home-school their children, thus saving the state the associated schooling expense, it seems appropriate that they get back some or all of the income tax (which all goes to Utah’s Education Fund) that they would otherwise owe. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB77 as currently drafted.
SB39Substitute, “Home School Amendments” sponsored by Senator Aaron Osmond, would:
SB39 passed the Senate Education Committee 5-0 on February 14th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
SB39 would be a welcome step in the direction of respecting parents (not the State Board of Education) as the ones who are primarily responsible for—and have the natural right of directing—the education of their children. As currently drafted, GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB39.
SB43, “Intergenerational Poverty Interventions in Public Schools” sponsored by Senator Stuart Reid, would:
"Intergenerational poverty" is already defined in Utah Code as “poverty in which two or more successive generations of a family continue in the cycle of poverty and government dependence.”
SB43 passed Senate Education Committee 7-0 on February 10th, and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
SB43 proposes to create another education welfare program to be administered by the (distant) State Board of Education, with money from taxpayers. Most would probably agree that intergenerational poverty is a serious problem. But it would be much better to reduce the size of the welfare state (and, over time, eliminate it), and reduce taxes, thus leaving private individuals, families, and associations, and local communities with greater resources to deal with the variety of problems that exist. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB43.
SB103Substitute, “Local Control of Classroom Time Requirements” sponsored by Senator Osmond and Representative Bird, would:
SB103Substitute passed the Senate 21-6 on February 6th, and awaits consideration by the House Education Committee.
SB103 would be a small but welcome step in the direction of local control of education. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on SB103Substitute as currently drafted.
SB107, “Math Literacy — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Initiative” sponsored by Senator Urquhart, would:
SB107 awaits consideration by the Senate Education Committee.
SB107 amounts to more money and more power going to the State Board of Education. A $5 million tax cut would be more appropriate, and would allow individuals to spend or invest as they judge best, rather than putting that decision in the hands of the (distant) State Board of Education. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB107.
SB118Substitute, “School Funding Through Income Tax Revisions” sponsored by Senator Patricia Jones and Representative Arent, would:
SB118Substitute passed the Senate Education Committee 4-2 on February 10th.
SB118 would create the School-Level Funding Program, and would significantly (to the tune of about $270 million per year) increase taxes and spending to pay for it. SB118 would also create additional mandates, for local schools and school districts, that are to be enforced by the State Board of Education. Thus SB118 would significantly move control away from private individuals, families, and communities, and toward the State Board of Education. GrassRoots favors a “no” vote on SB118.
If you have any questions about GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.
PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to le.state.gov and click on “Legislators”.
Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to le.state.gov and click on “2014 General Session Page” then click on “Numbered Bills”.
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