Wrapping Up The Session: Education & COVID-19
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
The 2020 General Legislative Session has come to a close! Thank you to all of you who have
attended my town hall meetings, emailed, called, texted and engaged on social media—the past 45 days have flown by. This has been a productive and exciting session, particularly for our district. Below are highlights of passed legislation that has serious impacts for K-12 education, higher education, health care and infrastructure.
K-12 EDUCATION: Taking Care of Our Kids
This session proved to be a game changer for education and Utah’s funding model for K-12 students moving forward. Three bills were presented as part of the proposal to increase, stabilize and protect education funding. These three bills are supported by the Utah Education Association (UEA), the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), The Charter School Association, the State Board of Education, Superintendents and many local school districts, including Jordan School District. You can read the letters of support from the various stakeholders here.These bills did the following:
HB 357: Public Education Funding Stabilizationimplemented a statutory guarantee that each year the legislature will fund student enrollment growth and inflation. Although this is something many assume we do annually as a legislative body, this has not been the case. This law is critical in stabilizing and protecting education funding.
SB 2: Public Education Budget Amendmentsincreased the WPU (Weighted Pupil Unit) by 6%, allocated $200k of ongoing funding towards the T.H. Bell Scholarship Fund for Utah’s future teachers. Additionally, this bill created a Public Education Reserve Account ($100 million) as well as funding for teachers, learning and training assessments, and special needs scholarships.
SJR 9: Proposal to Amend the Utah Constitution – Use of Tax, this bill will be on the ballot to be voted on by Utah voters this November. This bill amends the constitution and expands the earmark on income tax for education and “children and individuals
with disabilities.” This change is critical in ensuring the new funding model for education and taking care of the whole child and important programs for individuals with disabilities in Utah.
All three of these bills will go into effect if voters approve the constitutional amendment this fall.
SB 111 Higher Education Amendmentsis another monumental bill that will transform our systems of higher education in the state of Utah. This bill increases access to and opportunities for postsecondary education for all Utahns, creates seamless education pathways for our students, from certificates to degrees, improves coordination and collabora
tion between institutions, and meets the needs of a growing population and a growing workforce.
SLCC Campus in Herriman
We funded Salt Lake Community College’s request for their building in Herriman. This is huge for our community—Herriman donated the land for this building over eight years ago and SLCC has requested funding for the building for the past several years. The funding for this campus has been a priority for me from day one, and I am pleased that SLCC will finally begin to move forward with this project. With Silicone Slopes so close, this campus will serve as a training ground for our students for training, certification, and degrees in tech-related fields.
As a member of the House Health and Human Services Committee, I appreciated the opportunity to review, research and support these bills in committee and on the house floor.
HB 272: Pharmacy Benefit Amendmentspassed both the House and Senate unanimously. This bill will significantly benefit Utahns by increasing transparency in drug pricing and bending the cost curve on healthcare.
HB 207: Insulin Access Amendmentswill make insulin more affordable and attainable in Utah. It incentivizes health benefit plans to reduce the required copayments for insulin, creates a program to allow Utahns to purchase discounted insulin and expands the number of days for which an insulin prescription can be refilled.
As we continue to grow as a state, in addition to the expansion of our highways and roads; the legislature is committed to a comprehensive transit system. This session, we funded the double tracking and electrification of the front runner to create more frequent and quicker trips.
This session, I passed the following bills:
I co-sponsored the following legislation:
HB 97: Newborn Safe Haven Amendments
HCR 12: Concurrent Resolution on Holocaust Education
HJR 12: Joint Resolution Celebrating Women’s Suffrage in Utah
HCR 16: Concurrent Resolution Calling for the Creation of a Federalism Task Force
HCR 15: Concurrent Resolution Urging a State Funeral for the Last WWII Medal of Honor Recipient
HB 7: Repeal of Single-mark Straight Ticket Voting
HB 163: Utah Cultural Stewardship Amendments
HB 23: Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette Amendments
HB 272: Pharmacy Benefits Amendments
HJR 15: The Right to Hunt and Fish
According the Utah Department of Health, Utah has a total of 19 COVID-19 cases. All ski resorts have suspended operations, churches and major events have been cancelled, K-12 schools and universities and colleges have cancelled class in-person and will be conducting classes online. You can stay up to date on the total number of cases and preventative measures here.
As a legislature, we allocated over $24 million to bolster efforts by health departments and other organizations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among a group particularly susceptible to the virus. We approved additional funding for:
$250,000 to Meals on Wheels, a program targeted to assist senior citizens
$250,000 to the Food Box Program that provides 10 days worth of boxed meals to seniors
$250,000 in new home medical testing services to help minimize the spread of the illness
$250,000 in home supportive services program for vulnerable populations
$2 million for local health departments to create intensive response programs for seniors
These funds are in addition to the $16 million given to the Division of Finance and the $4 million taken from the Disaster Recovery Restriction Account.
The best way you can prevent getting COVID-19 is by washing your hands and limiting contact with other people. If you are feeling sick and are experiencing symptoms that include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, limit your contact with others and call your healthcare provider.
It has truly been a pleasure to serve you this session. I filed to run again to continue representing our district this Friday and am eager to get to work over interim on issues important to our district. As always feel free to send me an email, give me a call or shoot me a text with any questions you might have.
Candice B. Pierucci
State Representative for House District 52