Legislature nears halfway mark, but few bills have passed
February 11, 2008
As of Day 18 of this year’s General Session of the Utah Legislature, only 39 of approximately 500 pieces of proposed legislation had gained approval of the House and Senate. That means approximately nine-tenths of the bills vying for legislators’ attention are still churning through the process, somewhere in the murky anterooms between committee hearings, floor debates and voting in both the House and Senate.
The lawmakers better get busy — the session ends at midnight March 5.
Granted, some bills have been set aside for further study. Unfortunately one of those is Rep. Christine Johnson’s bill (HB89) that sought to expand Utah’s Anti-discrimination Act to protect also gay and transgender workers. Johnson said she was encouraged, though, that, rather than dismiss her proposal entirely, legislators have agreed to look at the bill again during an upcoming study session next summer.
It is apparent that Johnson, one of Capitol Hill’s few Democrats, has earned her colleagues’ reluctant respect and it is beginning to pay off. Instead of berating fellow politicians for rejecting her bill, she has praised them for their willingness to consider it in the future.
Among the bills that could still become law is at least one that we would like to see tossed in the circular file. SB 55 would require students to pass the standardized Utah Basic Skills Competency Test in order to graduate. Currently students who do not pass the test are still eligible to receive a diploma – but without the UBSCT seal.
Teachers and school administrators should be able to exercise some discretion about whether a particular student deserves to graduate. Extenuating circumstances too numerous to mention, let alone write into legislation, can affect whether a student passes the test and whether he or she is ready to move on beyond high school. Holding a student back due to a failing score on one test is not in the school’s or the student’s best interest.
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For more information about the current legislative session including a listing of proposed bills by subject log on to http://www.le.state.ut.us/
Summit County’s legislators are Senator Kevin Van Tassell (R-Vernal), 435-789-7082, Representative Mel Brown (R-Coalville), 435-901-1729 and Representative Christine Johnson (D-Salt Lake City) 801-661-3489. Let them know if you have any questions or concerns about their stand on these and other issues currently being considered.