A Senate bill that would have required Utah high school students to take three years each of math and science was referred to interim study Wednesday because of concerns the requirement may discourage some students to the point that they drop out of school or do not consider post-secondary vocational training.

SB159, sponsored by Sen. Scott Howell, D-Sandy, was intended to better prepare students in the areas of math or science, whether they attend college or seek vocational training after high school.Sen. Haven Barlow, R-Layton, said there is already a shortage of math and science teachers. Howell's bill may compound the problems, he said.

"At the same time, we've got to encourage some of our students to look at options other than college. That's where the jobs are," Barlow said.

Sen. Boyd Storey, R-Eden, said the past practice of the Legislature has been to allow more control among local school boards. He suggested a more important issue is preparing young people for marriage. "The greatest need is to prepare young people for marriage. That's where our failures are."

- It's a different world than when most members of the Utah Senate went to school.

More than half of the state's women work outside the home, many of them full-time. Some parents simply cannot slip away from work to attend their children's parent-teacher conferences.

A bill before the Utah Senate would change that. SB156, sponsored by Sen. Karen Shepherd, D-Salt Lake, was passed to third reading Wednesday by a vote of 16-9. The bill would require companies that employ more than 25 people to allow parents a maximum of four hours off work per year to attend their children's parent-teacher conferences.

"It's a bill for the new world," commented Shepherd.

But some senators said the bill would place unreasonable demands on employers. "I just don't feel good about telling an employer what to do," said Sen. Chuck Peterson, R-Provo.

Sen. Millie Peterson, D-West Valley City, spoke in support of the bill, commenting that the bill asked employers for only four hours a year. "Some of these women are working jobs where they want them to be on the job from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.," she said.