Legislative Session 2015

Legislative Update Report

Week 2: February 3, 2014 - February 7, 2014

Overview. Several bills began their march through the legislative process this week as standing committees got underway following the first week’s focus on the base budget. Many of these bills are expected to be up for full Senate or House consideration this week.

2014-2015 Budget. The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee met twice. Commissioner Buhler introduced USHE’s 2014-15 Unified Budget Request emphasizing the top three priorities: merit compensation, acute equity funding, and distinctive mission funding. His presentation is available here. A summary of the USHE Budget Priorities adopted by the Board of Regents is available here.

Six USHE institution presidents made presentations reinforcing the system’s budget priorities: Weber State University’s Chuck Wight, Utah Valley University’s Matthew Holland, Snow College’s Interim President Gary Carlston, Dixie State University’s Stephen Nadauld, Utah State University’s Stan Albrecht, and Southern Utah State University’s Scott Wyatt. Each presentation highlighted the unique role and mission of their institutions while highlighting common themes related to the top priorities of the USHE budget request. President Huftalin will present on Tuesday, February 11 at 2:00 pm. You can listen to the presentation.

The Subcommittee is expected to prioritize its budget requests on Thursday, February 13. Those priorities will be advanced to the Executive Appropriations Committee for further consideration as the overall state budget starts to take shape later this month.

Capital Budget. The Infrastructure Subcommittee heard presentations this week on several state building requests. The following presentations were made from the Board of Regent’s prioritized list of capital development projects: WSU – New Science Lab Building, USU – Eastern and USU’s Brigham City campus, U of U - Crocker Science Center.

Key Legislation of Interest to SLCC:

  • HB 32, College Credit for Veterans by Rep. Tim Cosgrove, modifies legislation passed in the 2013 Legislative session requiring student veterans to meet with a student advisor before the award of credit. New legislation requires USHE institutions to provide written notification to student veterans of the requirement to meet with a college counselor before being eligible to transfer college credit. The bill was endorsed by the Veterans Reintegration Taskforce during the interim and was passed by the Senate Education Committee on February 5. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
  • HB 45, In-State Tuition for Military Service members and Veterans by Rep. Curt Oda, provides ability for military service members, veterans and their immediate family members to be considered a resident for in-state tuition purposes. The bill unanimously cleared the House and awaits a committee hearing in the Senate.
  • HB 72, Higher Education Grievance Procedure by Rep. Mark Wheatley, requires the Board of Regents to enact regulations requiring all testimony pertaining to an employee grievance hearing be given under oath. The bill is currently awaiting consideration by the full House.
  • HB 92 (1st Sub), Utah Telehealth and Education Network Amendments by Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, combines the functions of the Utah Education Network and the Utah Telehealth Network as well as modifies the board membership of the current Utah Education Network. The substitute bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and awaits consideration by the full House.
  • SB 16, Veterans Tuition Gap Coverage by Sen. Luz Robles, provides state funded grants to qualifying military veterans who have maximized federal financial aid benefits. The bill is currently awaiting a committee hearing.
  • SB 22, Workforce Services Job Listing Amendments, by Sen. Peter Knudson, requires all government entities advertise job openings on the state website, jobs.utah.gov. It also requires the state’s Division of Purchasing to provide contact information for companies that contract with the state. USHE is currently working with the sponsor to amend this legislation to exclude job postings for USHE faculty and student-related positions. The bill is currently awaiting a committee hearing.
  • SB 34, Governance of the Utah Education and Workforce Alliance by Sen. Howard Stephenson, establishes a multi-agency governing board for the Utah Futures and Utah Data Alliance initiatives, to be administered by the Utah Education Network. The bill requires that certain information be made available to the public and a report be made to the Education Interim Committee by August 1, 2014 determining whether all or part of the Utah Futures application should be outsourced to a private provider. The bill was heard initially by the Senate Education Committee but was held by the bill sponsor for possible amendments to address concerns related to the proposed governance and data security.
  • SB 38 (1st Sub), Snow College Concurrent Education Program by Sen. Ralph Okerlund, Establishes a program that requires Snow College to provide concurrent enrollments courses via interactive video to rural school districts under direction of the Board of. The bill requires Snow College to establish a two-year schedule of course offerings via concurrent enrollment and provide advisory support to secondary school students. The substitute bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
  • SB 151, Religious Freedom Instruction Requirements by Sen. Stuart Reid, requires, as part of an award of a bachelor’s degree, students must demonstrate reasonable understanding of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including religious freedom. The bill is currently awaiting a committee hearing.