Legislative Update: Week 2

January 25-29, 2021

Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee (HEAS) continued its meetings this week and received presentations from all but six USHE institutions. Below are links to the institutions’ presentations:

The Subcommittee also heard updates regarding the state’s Learn & Work initiative, administered by the Office of the Commissioner in coordination with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and funded by the federal government’s relief funds appropriated last spring. The initiative enabled USHE institutions to expand in-demand, short-term educational programs for furloughed, laid-off, or dislocated workers, as well as underserved or other populations affected by COVID-19.


Success in Education, an initiative of the Robert H. And Katharine B. Garff Foundation, also presented on Keys to Success, a public-private partnership that supports a mobile application used in conjunction with Utah’s college access advisors. The app helps students earn and redeem points for prizes by researching pertinent information on scholarships, internships, and college.

The remaining institutions to present next week are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, February 2, 8:00 AM: Dixie State University; Southern Utah University; Weber State University; Utah Valley University
  • Thursday, February 4, 8:00 AM: University of Utah; Utah State University

Legislation of Interest

SB 45, Higher Education Classes for Veterans by Rep. Weiler — allows veterans to audit classes at institutions of higher education tuition-free if the veterans are Utah residents. The bill received unanimous support from the Senate Education Committee and awaits final consideration by the Senate.


HB 159, Higher Education Student Speech Rights by Rep. Jordan Teuscher — 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 awaits a Standing Committee.


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 awaits a Senate Committee hearing.
The Utah Board of Higher Education supports this legislation.


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. This bill awaits committee assignment in the House.