2018 Legislative Update – Week 4

Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs presented the subcommittee’s priorities to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Final 2018-19 budget revenue projections are expected to be announced in the coming week. From this, additional budget action will be taken by Executive Appropriations Committee in the final weeks of the legislative session.


Legislation of Interest

HB 116 (1st Sub.), Student Civil Liberties Protection Act by Rep. Kim Coleman, is based on the Administrative Rules Review Committee’s review of the policy development processes at USHE institutions over the past year. The bill requires USHE institutions to review current policies and repeal or initiate rulemaking proceedings for each policy that directly affects a student’s civil liberty. While current policies uphold civil liberties for students, higher education supports this additional review and rulemaking for greater transparency. The bill passed House Education Committee, and awaits further consideration by the House.

**HB 122, Higher Education Employment Authority Amendments by Rep. Justin Fawson, proposes to move Regents’ authority to appoint presidents to institutional Boards of Trustees. The proposed changes would create a confusing line of governance for the presidents where Regents are responsible for the oversight and accountability of higher education in the state, yet no ability to recruit and hire the best talent to help carry out the state’s higher education objectives. Presidential selection was a major component to 2017’s SB 238, implemented for less than a year. The bill is currently in House Rules Committee.

*HB237 (1st Sub.), Concurrent Enrollment Enhancements by Rep. Mike Winder requires the Board of Regents to establish policy, in coordination with higher education concurrent enrollment directors, that defines the qualifications to be an eligible concurrent enrollment instructor. Current instructors for the for the 2017-18 academic years will continue to be eligible regardless of qualifications.

HB 254, Campus Sexual Violence Reporting by Rep. Kim Coleman outlines non-binding circumstances when an institution may turn information over to law enforcement, even against the wishes of a victim of sexual violence desire for confidentiality, based on an articulable and significant threat to campus safety. The bill also mandates that colleges offer amnesty from conduct-code violations for students, which USHE institutions already have in policy. The bill passed the House Judiciary and awaits consideration in the House.

*HB 300, Higher Education Governance Amendments by Rep. Brad Last provides for gubernatorial appointment of the local boards of directors in of the Utah System of Technology Colleges (USTC) to be parallel with board appointments in USHE, and removes a provision requiring Senate consent for the appointment of the student member of the State Board of Regents. The bill also provides that board members could be removed by the Governor for cause.  The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee awaits further consideration in the House.

*HB 349, Higher Education Legacy Scholarship Amendments by Rep. Val Potter repeals a provision that restricts a student who receives an alumni legacy scholarship from counting time towards establishing residency. If passed, students who receive this scholarship would be eligible to receive in-state tuition after 12 months in Utah. The bill unanimously passed the House Education Committee awaits further consideration in the House.

**HB 388 Public Education Funding Allocation Assurance by Rep. LaVar Christensen requires a minimum funding level assurance of at least 90% for K-12 education from the state Education Fund. Higher education is funded from a combination of Education and General Fund tax dollars, varying from year to year based on legislative discretion. That flexibility helps the state maintain a balanced budget. This proposal would cap Education Funds to higher education, not only limiting the state’s ability to balance the budget, but resulting in greater restriction in funding higher education in the future. The bill awaits a committee assignment.

**HB 398, Higher Education Student Speech Rights by Rep. Kim Coleman establishes a specific threshold that determines when student-on-student speech becomes harassment as opposed to protected speech. It may put schools in conflict with existing federal guidance and definitions of harassment. The bill also protects belief-based student groups, allowing them to condition group membership on accepting and supporting closely held belief. Schools would be prohibited from discriminating against belief-based groups by either denying the groups official recognition and funding or by requiring the groups to maintain open membership. These provisions present possible situations in which a formally recognized school group could discriminate against certain protected classes. The bill is awaits assignment to a standing committee.

*SB 104, Talent Development and Retention Strategy by Sen. Ann Millner, establishes a loan forgiveness program for students who graduate in programs that lead to high demand jobs. It also enables private business to partner with institutions to help fund the scholarships. The legislation helps address current outmigration of Utah’s workforce talent. The bill passed the Senate and awaits consideration by the House.

SB 162, Intergenerational Poverty Matching – Education Savings Plan by Sen. Evan Vickers creates an education savings pilot program to provide matching contributions to Utah’s My 529 on behalf of children experiencing intergenerational poverty. The program is to be administered by the Utah Department of Workforce Services in partnership with My 529.

*SB174, Higher Education Capital Facilities by Sen. Ann Millner, establishes a new procedure and funding mechanism for higher education capital development projects using metrics established by the Board of Regents in these areas: enrollment, total performance according to performance funding requirements, regional growth in student population, facility age and condition, and adequacy of academic space. The use of these funds are dependent on the amount the Legislature appropriates to the institutions. The bill was unanimously support by the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration of the full Senate.

SB 195, Credit Acceptance by Higher Education Institutions by Sen. Howard Stephenson would allow students to transfer credit from a Regent-approved private provider or a regionally accredited institution. USHE institutions have several agreements with private providers and partner institutions, this would require a state option for such agreements and transfer. The bill is awaits assignment to a standing committee.

*SCR 3, Concurrent Resolution on the Importance of Civil Liberties for Students by Sen. Jim Dabakis recognizes the unique role of USHE institutions in the state and encourages USHE institutions to defend the civil liberties of students and ensure an avenue by which students may appeal a school policy.


* USHE has taken an official position in support; ** USHE has taken an official position in opposition. For more information on legislation, committee agendas, or to view or listen to floor debates, see: http://le.utah.gov/