Silas Walker, Deseret News
FILE - A stone lion guards one of the entrances to the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representative passed HB286 Monday, which calls for revisions the state's required semester-long financial literacy course to give high schoolers a better understanding of economic systems including capitalism, socialism and communism, the bill's sponsor says.

Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs, sponsor of HB286, said it is critical that students better understand economic systems.

"A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought this would have been a necessary bill but it’s become even more apparent that we do need this," he said.

Moss thanked Gov. Gary Herbert "who's been very vocal on this issue and has been very supportive of helping us encourage these concepts to be taught," he said.

In his latest State of the State address, Herbert said he wants Utah students to have a better understanding of free market economics.

"When I meet with students, I am impressed by their intelligence and curiosity. But frankly, I have been disturbed by some of the rising generation’s fascination with socialism," Herbert said.

The bill passed on a vote of 62-10 but not before an attempt by Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, to amend the bill by striking language calling for instruction on "a command system such as socialism or communism, a market system such as capitalism and a mixed system."

Rep. Travis Seegmiller, R-St. George, opposed the amendment, which he called "the equivalent of gutting the whole purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish…here."

Moss also opposed Kwan's amendment, noting the language she wanted to strike was "the whole point of this bill, is that these students have a clear understanding of what those different systems are and the effects of those various systems."

The amendment failed on a voice vote.

Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, questioned whether HB286 would apply to higher education.

4 comments on this story

Ivory said he was aware of a number of concerns raised at the college level in departments of sociology, economics and political science.

"There’s a sense that they’re actually advocating for socialism and Marxism," Ivory said.

He again asked Moss whether the bill applied to what was being taught at colleges and universities.

"No this does not. This is just specifically for the financial literacy course in K-12," Moss replied.

"I’m grateful this is happening," Ivory said.

"At some point we can actually look to institute this in higher ed as well."