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2021 Legislative Update: Week 6

February 22-26, 2021

Executive Appropriations Committee Recommended Funding Items

The Executive Appropriations Committee adopted proposed new funding items late Friday afternoon (in addition to the base budget increases adopted early in the 2021 legislative session that includes a 3% employee compensation market increase). The proposed items for higher education are closely aligned to the budget priorities adopted by the Utah Board of Higher Education:

Performance funding:$20,550,000
Growth & capacity (technical colleges):$  6,055,000
Growth (degree-granting institutions):$  5,789,000
Technical education tuition offset
(Snow College, Salt Lake Community College):       
$  1,861,000
College access advisors:$  2,500,000*
Mental health services (technical colleges):$     400,000*

Several funding items from the 2020 legislative session that were pulled back in special sessions:

Emerging Technology Initiative:$ 5,101,600
State Scholarship Increases:$ 2,000,000

All of the capital development priorities adopted by the Board are included in the proposed funding items. There are also several items specific to USHE institutions included. The full list of proposed new funding items is available here.

Legislation of Interest

HB 233, Education Immunization Modifications by Rep. Mark Strong — prohibits USHE institutions from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition to enroll. It also prohibits institutions from requiring a vaccine-exempt student to participate remotely rather than in-person. The bill was amended to allow exceptions for students training in clinical health settings. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.


HB 278, Name Change Process for Dixie State University by Rep. Kelly Miles — establishes a process for the Dixies State University Board of Trustees and Utah Board of Higher Education to select and recommend a new name for the institution to the Legislature. The bill passed the House with a 51-20 vote and awaits committee assignment in the Senate.


HB 279, Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth by Rep. Lowry Snow — establishes a virtually-delivered Concurrent Enrollment program and accompanying advisory program at Dixie State University for students in certain custody situations. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.


HB 302, Preserving Sports for Female Students by Rep. Kera Birkeland — requires schools to designate athletic activities by sex and prohibits a student of the male sex from participating in an athletic activity. The bill has been modified from its original draft removing higher education. However, the bill is similar to other controversial bills that have been adopted in other states that have led to litigation in Idaho and Connecticut; this recent AP news story provides additional background. After a lengthy discussion, the bill was held by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.


HB 318 (1st Sub), Higher Education Amendments by Rep. Melissa Ballard — clarifies and makes technical changes as required by SB 111 from the 2020 Legislative Session. It clarifies the roles of institutions and those of the Board of Higher Education, and it revises the Board’s priorities. The bill was substituted from its original, removing the proposed modifications to the process for presidential searches. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate. The Utah Board of Higher Education supports this legislation.


HB 327, School for Civics and Economic Thought and Leadership by Rep. Jefferson Burton — establishes the School for Civics and Economic Thought and Leadership at Utah Valley University, seeking an ongoing appropriation of $2 million. This bill awaits consideration by the Senate Education Committee.


HB 328, Adult Learners Grant Program by Rep. Lowry Snow — establishes a scholarship program for students over 26 years old who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in an entirely online certificate program in a field with industry need. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.


SB 136, Higher Education Scholarship Amendments by Rep. Derrin Owens — replaces the Regents’ Scholarship Program with the Opportunity Scholarship. It also extends opportunities for scholarships within technical education and forecloses new applications for the New Century Scholarship after this academic year. This legislation is in conjunction with the Board’s action in December 2020 to rename and simplify the state’s achievement-based scholarships. This bill received unanimous support in the Senate and House and has been sent for enrolling and awaits the signature of the Governor. The Utah Board of Higher Education supports this legislation.


SB 163, Campus Safety Amendments by Sen. Jani Iwamoto — establishes a student-led Safety and Equity Commission appointed by institution student leadership that makes recommendations to the Utah Board of Higher Education. The bill also clarifies reporting requirements of institutional annual safety reports, along with additional requirements on how those reports are publicized. This bill awaits a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.


SB 193 (1st Sub), Higher Education Performance Funding by Sen. Ann Millner — modifies the current statute on performance funding by requiring the Board of Higher Education to establish five-year statewide goals in conjunction with 5-year goals the institutions set. State funding appropriations will be allocated to the institutions based on their performance in relation to these goals. The bill received the unanimous support of the Senate and awaits consideration by the House Education Committee. The Utah Board of Higher Education supports this legislation. The Utah Board of Higher Education supports this legislation.