SALT LAKE CITY — Ceremonial niceties aside, one of the items of business to be addressed on the first day of 2018 legislative session will be consideration — and likely passage — of four pieces of legislation totaling nearly 1,200 pages that cleans up the state public education code.
Drafts of the four bills, which range in length from 237 to 375 pages each, won unanimous approval of the Utah Legislature’s Education Interim Committee Wednesday despite one lawmaker admitting he had not yet plowed through the legislation that covers revisions to statutes on the state school system, funding and local administration.
No worries, said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. All lawmakers have until the start of 2018 general session to catch up on their reading, he said. The 45-day session begins Jan. 22.
Even as lawmakers and legislative staff have labored months to clean up the code, lawmakers have opened dozens of education bill files they want considered in the upcoming legislative session.
Unless Gov. Gary Herbert calls for a special session before the general session, passage of the four bills needs to occur as soon as possible after the start of the session, said John Fellows, legislative general counsel.
Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, co-chairman of the Education Interim Committee, joked, “Is there any way that we would take this next session off and leave this education code pristine in its perfect condition the way it is now before it is sullied by our terrible, dirty, dirty hands?”
Fellows said 29 public requests for public education bills have been opened thus far and other bill requests, considered protected, are pending.
Public education bills comprised about 10 percent of 800 bill files opened during the 2017 legislative session, he said.2 comments on this story
Fellows said it would be helpful to legislative staff and the process if the two houses passed the education recodification code bills swiftly and delivered the legislation to Gov. Gary Hebert for his signature to facilitate the writing of education bills.
For now, public education bills are being drafted "as if the recodification has passed," he said.
This is just the first stage of the recodification of Title 53A, "where we're literally just moving things around," Fellows said.
Technical changes will be made in phase 2 and the final stage will involve policy changes, he said.