2020 Weekly Legislative Update-Week 5

Budget:

With Appropriations Subcommittees wrapped up, Senate and House leadership have spent the week preparing to compile the full budget. Legislative budgets are expected in the coming week. The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee has put a high priority on the USHE unified budget request, which includes: compensation increases commensurate with state employees, performance funding, ongoing funding to expand the Utah College Access Advisors program, funding to cover enrollment growth, and increased funding for technical education.

Legislation of Interest:

**HB 132, 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. USHE institutions are concerned the legislation would increase litigation costs to the state and potentially have a chilling effect on free speech on campus. It may put schools in conflict with existing federal guidance and definitions of harassment. The bill passed the House, 39-31, and awaits consideration by the Senate.

*HB 256, Student Aid Amendments by Rep. Karen Kwan requires student applicants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for certain financial aid for higher education. This modifies the application process, clarifies the qualifications for student financial aid, provided by scholarship or through the state, as well as determines where the financial aid may be applied with schools recognized by USBE, USHE, and UTECH. This bill passed the House, 48-26, and awaits further consideration by the Senate. 

*HB 336, Concurrent Enrollment Certificate Pilot Program by Rep. Val Peterson creates the PRIME pilot program to expand access to concurrent enrollment and technical education in K-12. The legislation creates a three-tiered program that includes the LAUNCH certificate, DISCOVER breadth certificate, and TRANSFORM general education/technical certificate. The bill was passed by the the House Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full House.

HB 386, Online Education Program Amendments by Rep. Kim Coleman allows a student who is enrolled in a course through the statewide online education program administered by USBE to be eligible for Concurrent Enrollment. The bill awaits a House committee assignment.

HB 409, Concurrent Enrollment Amendments by Rep. Eric Hutchings requires the USHE Board of Regents to annually approve a prioritized list of upper division Concurrent Enrollment courses and amends the formula for increasing funding for Concurrent Enrollment. The bill awaits a House committee assignment.

*SB 80 (1st Sub.), Campus Safety Amendments by Sen. Jani Iwamoto requires the USHE Board of Regents to study and make recommendations for providing public safety services on college and university campuses. This includes determining the relationship between public and campus law enforcement, the process of reporting, disciplinary actions and the potential for additional training. The study will take place during the interim and will require the USHE Board of Regents to present a final report of the study with recommendations to the Education Interim Committee and the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee. The bill received unanimous support in both the Senate and House and awaits the Governor’s signature.

*SB 96, Emerging Technology Talent Initiative by Sen. Ann Millner creates an initiative that awards proposals submitted to an advisory board under the direction of the USHE Board of Regents that expands programs in deep technology (e.g. artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, advanced materials, robotics, secure computing). The bill unanimously passed the House Public Utilities and Technology Committee and awaits consideration by the House.

*SB 111 (1st Sub.), Higher Education Amendments, by Sen. Ann Millner is the epochal legislation that revamps the governance structure of higher education in Utah. The bill’s primary components include:

  • Merges the two current systems of higher education into a single system.
  • Establishes a single governing board, its initial composition and process for appointing future members.
  • Defines the the new board’s duties (selection of institutions presidents, requirements related to an institution’s authority to establish new programs, etc.).
  • Mandates certain transition-related actions of the USHE Board of Regents and the Utah System of Technical Colleges Board of Trustees
  • Extends the term of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Commission by one year.

A press conference of the bill’s introduction was held on February 11. Here is a summary of the legislation. The bill the full Senate and awaits consideration by the House Education Committee on Monday, March 2. 

SB 117, Higher Education Financial Aid Amendments by Sen. Daniel Hemmert allows for the Regents’ Scholarship to be used at private, nonprofit colleges or universities within the state (BYU, LDS Business College, Western Governors University, Westminster College). It also limits the amount of scholarship funding available to those specific kinds of colleges. The bill received unanimous support by the House Education Committee and awaits consideration by the House.

* 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/