2016 Legislative Update – Week 4

Higher Education Day on the Hill

Regents, Trustees, Presidents and student leaders gathered on Friday for the annual higher education luncheon in the Capitol Rotunda. Attended by over 75 legislators, including members of legislative leadership, it was a good opportunity to re-emphasize USHE’s budget and capital development priorities.

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs presented the subcommittee’s priorities to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Thursday. In his remarks, Senator Urquhart, Co-Chair, commented, “We should increase our commitment to higher ed. We get a lot of bang for those bucks. We have great managers but they’re simply not getting enough state appropriation to make ends meet.”

Final 2016-17 budget revenue projections are expected to be announced on February 22. Further budget action will be taken by Executive Appropriations Committee in the final weeks of the legislative session.


Legislation of Interest to USHE

*HB 93, Organ Donor Amendments by Rep. Gage Froerer, requires USHE institutions to electronically notify students twice a year advocating organ donation. USHE worked with Rep. Froerer clarifying how institutions could communicate to students. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the full Senate.

*HB 182, Concurrent Enrollment Amendments by Rep. Val Peterson, is a joint effort with the Utah State Office of Education to clarify the statute relating to concurrent enrollment. The legislation primarily combines and clarifies several sections of statute to better defines the program, it creates a statewide participation form, and defines qualifications for teaching concurrent enrollment math courses. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and awaits further consideration by the full Senate.

*HB 216, Utah Educational Savings Plan Amendments by Rep. Stewart Barlow, amends the Utah Uniform Probate Code so that custodial property is created and a transfer is made when contributions are made into a custodial account at the Utah Educational Savings Plan

**HB 262, Campus Anti-Harassment Act by Rep. Kim Coleman defines discriminatory harassment and stipulates that an institution of higher education must take action against discriminatory harassment immediately after gaining actual knowledge of the act. USHE institutions, the Commissioner’s Office, and the Attorney General’s office have serious concerns regarding the bill’s legality, the potential confusion it will cause, the increased legal liability and increased costs associated with implementation. The Commissioner’s Office is working with the sponsor for possible solutions. This bill awaits consideration by the House judiciary Committee.

**HB 337, Student Right to Active Counsel by Rep. Kim Coleman requires notification of right of counsel for all disciplinary meetings between a student and individual from a higher ed institution, including informal meetings with an instructor. Serious concerns exist regarding the increased staffing costs and increase in litigation due to the several types of damages a court may award. The Commissioner’s office and legal counsel from several institutions plan to meet with Rep. Coleman this week to explore possible solutions. The bill awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

HB 353, Institutions of Higher Education Disclosure Provisions by Rep. Kim Coleman requires institutions of higher education to disclose information including rates of completion, job placement, wage earnings for each academic program. It also requires notification and acknowledgement of all students as they enroll. A substitute bill is anticipated that would remove the individual notification requirement and leverages the current data available at higheredutah.org for use in the course catalogs of USHE institutions.

**HB 357, Longitudinal Data Management Act by Rep. Jacob Anderegg would remove current funding from USHE and the other members of the Utah Data Alliance (USOE, UEN, UCAT) to create the Utah Data Commission. Passage of this legislation would eliminate the resources to provide longitudinal data efforts such as the High School Feedback Report, Wage Information by Field of Study, Where USHE Graduates are Employed, and Remedial Math reports. The Commissioner’s Office is working with Rep. Anderegg on possible substitute language. The bill awaits assignment to a House committee.

*HB 379, Interstate Reciprocity Agreement for Postsecondary Distance Education by Rep. Val Peterson authorizes the State Board of Regents to execute an interstate reciprocity agreement on behalf of higher education institutions in Utah regarding postsecondary distance education courses and programs. This would enable Utah to become an approved state by the National Council on State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, of which 35 states are already members. This voluntary multi-state consortium expands access to distance education courses, establishes national standards of quality and reduces overall costs to higher ed institutions in administering online programs outside the state. This bill awaits committee consideration in the House.

*SB 166, Utah Science, Technology and Research Modification by Sen. Ann Millner rewrites provisions relating to USTAR, its governing authority and funding, modifies powers and duties of governing authority, reporting requirements, researchers, and USTAR buildings, provisions related to audit of USTAR report, repeals provisions relating to technology outreach innovation program. This bill awaits consideration by the Senate Education Committee on February 23.

SB 188, Higher Education Capital Facilities by Sen. Stephen Urquhart creates the Higher Education Capital Facilities Account to fund higher education buildings. The bill defines how funds will be accrued in the account and how they will be distributed to USHE institutions in association with their rankings in Performance Funding each year. The bill also defines the role of the Board of Regents in approving USHE capital development projects.  The bill awaits consideration by a Senate Standing Committee.


* 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/