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Legislative Update: Week Two

Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013

USHE Weekly Legislative Report, Second Week: Feb. 4-8, 2013, by Dave Buhler, commissioner of higher education

February 11, 2013

This is the second weekly report for 2013 on the legislative session from the perspective of the Utah System of Higher Education.

Overview. Several priority bills began their march through the legislative process this week, as they were considered in committee hearings. A number of them are expected to be considered by the full Senate or House this week.

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee met twice, hearing presentations from three USHE presidents: Weber State University’s Chuck Wight, Utah Valley University’s Matthew Holland, and Snow College’s Scott Wyatt. Each presentation highlighted the unique role and mission of their institutions while highlighting common themes related to the difficult economic environment, their commitment to student success, and new innovations in the use of technology.

Presentations from Dixie State College and Southern Utah University are scheduled on Wednesday (2/13). Utah State University is scheduled for Friday (2/15). An unofficial schedule of meetings is online.

Capital Budget. The Infrastructure Subcommittee heard presentations this week on several non-state funded building requests on Wednesday [Feb. 6] from the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Southern Utah University.

Key Legislation of Interest to USHE

  • HB 1, Higher Education Base Budget* by Rep. Keith Grover appropriates the base budget for all of the Utah System of Higher Education at the same level as 2012-13. It passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. It now goes to the governor for his signature.
  • HB 28, Campus Safety Amendments by Rep. Don Ipson, would allow administrative officers at USHE institutions to dismiss individuals that trespass on the property of higher education institutions who disrupt the peace. We have worked closely with Rep. Ipson to modify the bill for additional clarification related to the possession of a firearm on campus. With these amendments it is expected to be up for consideration by the full House this week.
  • HB 61, Dixie State College — University Status* by Rep. Don Ipson. This bill changes the name of Dixie State College of Utah to Dixie State University and will affirm the action taken Board of Regents at their last meeting Jan. 24.  The bill is expected to be considered by the full house on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
  • HB 254, College Credit for Veterans by Rep. Paul Ray, requires USHE colleges and universities to award credit for certain military service training and experience. We worked with Rep. Ray to adjust the original proposed legislation so it now requires student veterans to meet with a student advisor before the award of credit. The bill was passed out of the House unanimously and will be up for consideration by the Senate Education Committee on Monday morning [Feb. 11].
  • SB 42, Medical School Admissions Funding* by Sen. John Valentine,  authorizes the University of Utah School of Medicine to increase the number of students admitted by 40 students for a total of 122 students annually; and restricts the 40 additional admissions to students who demonstrate a strong connection to Utah. The bill passed the full Senate unanimously and is now in the House where a committee hearing is expected.
  • SB 51, Higher Education Tuition Waivers* by Sen. Stephen Urquhart, removes the cap on the number of waivers allotted to institutions of higher education for nonresident students who meet certain academic and admission requirements; and extends alumni legacy nonresident scholarships at institutions of higher education to grandchildren of alumni.This bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Education Committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate this week.
  • SB 100, Higher Education Scholarship Amendments by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, makes modifications to the Regents’ and New Century scholarship programs to streamline the application process, raise standards to improve completion, and addresses concerns raised by constituents. Specifically, it allows the Board of Regents to assign additional weights to grades earned in International Baccalaureate program similar to college credit earned through concurrent enrollment or Advance Placement testing. It changes the requirement for a student receiving a New Century scholarship or an Exemplary Academic Achievement award under the Regents' Scholarship program to take at least 15 credit hours per semester and maintain a 3.3 GPA. And it allows applicants to provide affidavit or statement of citizenship via application form. The bill was passed unanimously by Senate committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate early this week.
  • SB 118, Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Amendments by Sen. Karen Mayne, directs the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah to create and maintain a website designed for the public to learn about the findings of research studies regarding occupational and environmental health, including research on the health effects of air pollution. The Bill passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is up for consideration by the full Senate.
  • SB 162, Concurrent Enrollment Amendments* by Sen. Stephen Urquhart, clarifies and modifies several elements of legislation he sponsored, and enacted, last year that were administratively burdensome, based on feedback from USHE. The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate Education Committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate this week.
  • SCR 5, Concurrent Resolution Endorsing the Utah Education Excellence Commission* by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, expresses strong support for achieving the goal that 66 percent of Utah's adults will hold a postsecondary degree or certificate by the year 2020; expresses the legislature’s determination to work with the governor and Utah's education stakeholders to achieve the 66 percent goal through increased innovation and investment, and urges all Utahns to unite behind efforts to achieve the 66 percent goal. This bill was passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and is up for consideration by the full Senate.

*USHE has taken an official position in support; **USHE has taken an official position in opposition.

Information on legislation, committee agendas is online. Visitors can also view or listen to floor debates at the site.

Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Spencer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Please contact Neil Abercrombie, USU director of Government Relations, with questions specific to USU’s 2013 legislative priorities or developments during the session,

Updates from USU can also be found on Twitter.

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