The Utah Education Association (UEA) publishes an annual list of how state lawmakers voted on legislation related to education. Along with each legislator’s voting record, UEA publishes their stance on the proposed bills and the results of voting.
Five proposed bills came up for Senate voting in the 2015 legislative session. UEA opposed all but one.
SB 34 S1, “Charter School Authorization Amendments,” would have allowed municipal legislative bodies to authorize a charter school within its boundaries. It failed in the Senate Education Committee. UEA opposed the proposal.
SB 97 S3, “Property Tax Equalization Amendments” increased the basic property tax rate, generating as much as $75M in new money for public education. An equalization formula will determine fund distribution. UEA supported the bill, which passed in the Utah House and Senate. This funding could bring extra support for literacy instruction and materials to schools without a strong tax base.
SB 204 S2, “Parental Rights in Public Education Amendments,” was opposed by UEA and requires the State Board of Education “to make rules for opting out of state/federal tests and provides parents the right to take students out of school.” It passed in the Utah House and Senate. Utah already has in place a law that allows parents to opt out of mandated testing other than federal assessments.
Aaron Osmond (R) sponsored each of the three Senate Bills above.
SB 104 S5, “Education Elections and Reporting Amendments,” sponsored by Alvin Jackson (R), would have made State Board of Education elections and membership partisan so that members’ political affiliation conformed to those of the dominate party. UEA opposed the proposed bill, which failed in the House but passed in the Senate and was filed.
SB 235 S2, “Education Modifications,” sponsored by Wayne Niederhauser (R), stipulates that “the lowest 3% of schools as determined by school grading and other factors” will be identified and will undergo required remediation. The bill passed in the Utah House and Senate. UEA opposed the bill.
Among the Utah Senators, only four—all Democrats—showed voting that was 100% aligned with UEA’s positions: Jim Dabakis, Luz Escamilla, Jani Iwamoto, and Karen Mayne. Gene Davis (D) and Brian Shiozawa (R) showed 91% alignment with UEA’s stances. All other Senators aligned with UEA in 70% or less of their voting record, with Stuart Adams (R) having the lowest percentage at 17. The Senate is comprised of only five Democrats; the remainder of the members are Republicans.