Legislative Updates - 15 February 2021

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Dear Friends:

This is GrassRoots’ 4th legislative update of this year’s General Session of the Utah State Legislature.

At this time (4 weeks into the session), there are about 600 numbered bills for this session on the Utah Legislature website. Here are some bills and issues that we consider to be noteworthy.

Education bills

This week, a couple bills relating to education and schools in Utah have caught our attention. In our judgment of, and positions on, these bills, the following principles and ideas have guided our thinking:

  • The traditional family is the fundamental unit of society for the support, teaching, and nurturing of minors. Parents are primarily responsible for, and should have control over, the education of their children.
  • Government should avoid unwarranted interference in the functioning of families and with the prerogatives of parents—including directing the education of their children.

HB81, “Mental Health Days for Students”, sponsored by Representative Winder and Senator Fillmore, would add mental or behavioral health as a valid excuse for a school absence.

HB81 passed the House 60-5 on February 5th, and the Senate Education Committee 5-0 on February 10th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

If, in a parent’s judgment, mental or behavioral health issues would suggest that their child should not attend school on a given day or days, this should be respected. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HB81.

HCR8, “Concurrent Resolution on Education”, sponsored by Representative Lisonbee and Senator Johnson, would:

  • reaffirm that the state is secondary to and supportive of the primary role of a parent in educating the parent's children; and
  • recognize the importance of flexibility in education schedules and systems and commit to support options for parents and children.

HCR8 passed the House 53-14 on February 11th, and awaits action by the Senate Rules Committee.

HCR8 is a resolution, and not an amendment to Utah Code. As such, there is reason to question if HCR8 will have the desired effect of ensuring that parents’ primary role in educating their children is respected. However, we believe HCR8 would be a good statement of Legislative Intent, that may have a positive effect on the behavior and decisions of education officials and courts. GrassRoots favors a “yes” vote on HCR8.

Updated status

HB116, “Student Attendance Amendments”, sponsored by Representative Robertson and Senator Fillmore, would prohibit a local school board, charter school governing board, or school district from requiring documentation from a medical professional for an absence due to mental or physical illness. Additional coverage of HB116 may be found in our updates of January 25th and February 8th.

HB116 passed the House 48-22 on February 5th, passed the Senate Education Committee 4-0 on February 10th, and awaits consideration on the Senate 2nd reading calendar.

Parents should be assumed competent to excuse their children’s absences from school, and should not have to spend money on a medical professional to confirm that their child is ill. GrassRoots still favors a “yes” vote on HB116.

SB12, “Reauthorization of Administrative Rules”, sponsored by Senator Anderegg and Representative Brammer, states: “All rules of Utah state agencies are reauthorized.” Additional coverage of SB12, along with discussion of the principle of Separation of Powers, may be found in our updates of January 25th and February 8th.

SB12 passed the Senate 28-0 on February 3rd, passed the House Government Operations Committee 8-0 on February 10th, and awaits consideration by the full House.

To the extent that any administrative rule made by executive branch bureaucrats is legislative in its nature, this would seem to be contrary to the intent and letter of Utah State Constitution, Article V, Section 1.

GrassRoots still favors a “no” vote on SB12.

If you have any questions about these bills, GrassRoots’ position on these bills, or related matters, please contact either of us or any other member of the Board of Utah GrassRoots.

Sincerely,

Steve Stromness
Vice-Chairman, Bill Review Coordinator, Utah GrassRoots
steven.stromness@gmail.com
435-637-5248

Don Guymon
Chairman, Utah GrassRoots
donguymon@gmail.com
801-574-9461

PS Do you want to contact a legislator? Go to le.utah.gov and click on “Legislators”.

Do you want to read and follow legislation yourself? Go to le.utah.gov and click on “2020 General Session Page” then click on “2020 Bills”.

Do you have other questions about how to effectively participate in the political process? Please contact us, and we will try to help as appropriate.

Do you have friends that would appreciate this legislative update? Please feel free to forward it to them.

Would you like to help us with review of legislation in a small or large way? Consider taking a special look at bills sponsored by your own representative or senator. Please contact us with your findings and/or with any questions we might be able to help you with.