Senator Karen Mayne’s Bill Would Save Lives

MEDIA ADVISORY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
Ph: 435.590.9961
E:    emily.hollingshead@gmail.com

Senator Karen Mayne working to save women’s lives

SALT LAKE CITY – Senator Karen Mayne-D, West Valley City, is sponsoring a bill that will aid in the fight against breast cancer.  Senate Bill 31 would require doctors to notify a woman if she has dense breast tissue if it has been discovered in a mammogram.   When a woman has dense breast tissue it may be difficult to detect if breast cancer is present.   The bill would simply require that the patient be notified that she has dense breast tissue, along with a recommendation  to consult with her doctor for more information.

“This bill will save lives,” she says. “It’s about arming women with knowledge. Knowledge is power.”

The bill will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today, January 25,  at 2:00pm  in Room 250 of the Utah State Capitol.

For more information or media requests, please contact Emily Hollingshead, Communications Director for the Utah Senate Democrats:  emily.hollingshead@gmail.com or 435-590-9961

 

Senator Robles Working for Utah’s veterans

THE UTAH SENATE DEMOCRATS

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
Ph: 435.590.9961
emily.hollingshead@gmail.com

Senator Luz RoblesSenator Luz Robles presents bills supporting the men and women of the military

SALT LAKE CITY, January 24, 2012 – Senator Luz Robles, D—Salt Lake City (District 1) will present two pieces of legislation that will affect Utah’s military personnel.   The bills will be presented to the Senate Revenue & Taxation Committee today, and will expand a property tax exemption to military members who have performed military service in a combat zone.

 

“Utah’s men and women who serve in the military make a tremendous sacrifice on behalf of our country,” said Senator Robles.  “I think it’s important that we do whatever we can to help them here at home.  Extending certain property tax exceptions to qualified military personnel is one way we can do that.”

 

Robles’ two bills will be heard at the 4:00 pm committee in Room 250 at the State Capitol

 

SJR008 Joint Resolution on Property Tax Exemption for Military Personnel

 

SB0116 Armed Forces Property Tax Exemption

Who: Senator Luz Robles

What: Presentation of SJR008 and SB0116

Where: State Capitol, Room 250

When: 4:00pm

 

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Senator Karen Mayne: Bill would ban local governments from meeting during caucuses

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Pamela Manson

Two state legislators say they plan to introduce a bill that would ban local government groups — from city and county councils to school boards — from meeting when major political parties are holding their neighborhood caucuses.

The goal is to reduce scheduling conflicts and increase attendance at the caucus meetings, where attendees vote for county and state delegates. The delegates then attend state and county conventions, where they choose their party’s candidates for every office that is up for election in November.

The sponsors of the measure, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, and Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said the legislation would be the first to amend the state Open and Public Meetings Act to specify when public bodies would not be allowed to meet.

The candidates chosen by the caucus-convention process win the November election in Utah “in virtually all cases,” according to a statement from Powell and Mayne.

“Whether you are Democrat, Republican, unaffiliated or anything else, I believe it is your patriotic duty in this state to at least be at your neighborhood caucus for one night every two years,” Mayne said.

Powell told The Salt Lake Tribune that caucuses are for everyone, not just party activists. He said “unaffiliated” is the most popular choice when voters register and that those Utahns are not attending the meetings.

“They can and should still participate in the neighborhood caucus,” Powell said. “I believe Utah’s caucus day is the real election day.”

The bill, titled Utah’s Real-Election-Day Education for Neighborhood Caucuses Act, also would require the lieutenant governor to publicize the date and time of the neighborhood caucuses. This year, the Democrats are holding their caucus meetings on March 13 and the Republicans on March 15.

Other parties will announce their caucus dates individually.

In West Valley City, Mayor Mike Winder has proposed that the City Council pass a resolution saying West Valley will not hold council, committee or other meetings on the nights that political parties hold their caucuses.

The resolution also would call on other governments, religious organizations, businesses and community groups to adjust their schedules to avoid conflicting with the caucuses.

The proposed West Valley resolution is scheduled for a vote at the council regular meeting on Tuesday. The proposed bill is slated to be introduced at the opening of next week’s legislative session.

 

 

Senator Karen Mayne’s bill to target graffiti suspects


From KSL…

by Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY — Today is the first day of the 2012 legislative session. One of the bills being proposed this year would give officers and prosecutors more options to go after people suspected of tagging graffiti.

“It’s just something that we don’t want in our community, we don’t want in our neighborhoods and we don’t want in our state,” said Sen. Karen Mayne, who is sponsoring Senate Bill 107.

Mayne says police officers don’t have any truly meaningful ways to go after people they suspect of tagging. Under SB 107, graffiti would be at least a class B misdemeanor. The charges could be more serious depending on how much damage is done.

The measure also would make it a class B misdemeanor to possess items used to make graffiti, if officers and prosecutors thought the suspect intended to use them that way.

“When you’re out at 2:00 in the morning with a spray can, a ladder and brushes, you’re not painting my neighbor’s garage,” Mayne observed.

Mayne says paints used by taggers are more damaging to walls and fences than in years past.

“They’re costing people so much money to fix their fences, and now [with] this corrosive stuff that [taggers] can put on fences, they will have to replace the fence,” Mayne said.

She says the proposal has received a lot of support from law enforcement agencies all over the state.

 

 

 

 

House and Senate Dems to hold Media Availability immediately following Governor’s State of the State Address

 

MEDIA AVAILABILITY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:
Emily Bingham Hollingshead
Communications Director, Utah Senate Democrats
Ph: 435.590.9961
E:    emily.hollingshead@gmail.com

 

Utah House and Senate Democrats to hold Media Availability immediately following Governor’s State of the State Address, January 25, 2012

 

Who:          Utah House and Senate Democrats

What:         Media Availability in Response Governor Herbert’s State of the State Response

Where:      House of Representatives Lounge

When:        Wednesday, January 25, 2012 immediately following the Governor’s speech

 

Utah House and Senate Democrats, led by Democratic Leaders Ross Romero and David Litvack, will be available immediately following the Governor’s State of the State response to discuss the Governor’s proposals.

 

Members of the media are requested to meet with the Democratic legislators in the House Lounge of the Utah House of Representatives as soon as the Governor finishes his remarks and leaves the chamber.

 

In addition to the media availability, a pre-recorded response will also be available to all media outlets on Wednesday morning.  To receive a copy, call Emily Hollingshead, Communications Director for the Utah Senate Democrats, or visit us online at www.utahsenatedemocrats.org.

 

For more information, contact Emily Hollingshead, Communications Director for the Utah Senate Democrats:  emily.hollingshead@gmail.com or 435-590-9961

 

Utah legislators say yes to proposal to shrink class sizes

BY ROSEMARY WINTERS
The Salt Lake Tribune

Parents would see fewer students in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms under a proposed bill that earned preliminary approval Monday from the Senate Education Committee.

SB31, which the committee unanimously passed on to the full Senate, would limit the number of students in academic classes to 18 in kindergarten, 20 in first grade, 22 in second grade and 24 in third grade. But schools unable to meet the requirement, possibly due to limited classrooms, could instead hire teachers aides, known as paraprofessionals.

Sen. Karen Morgan, the Cottonwood Heights Democrat who is sponsoring the bill, said she gets calls from parents every fall who are shocked to find their child’s kindergarten class has upward of 30 students.

“The most critical time to have a smaller class size is in those early grades, where children are building a foundation for learning,” she told the committee, noting that 36 states limit class sizes. “We should not be one of the 14 states plus the District of Columbia that doesn’t have some kind of a cap on enrollment.”

But she acknowledged it will be challenging to find the ongoing funds needed to hire more teachers. The cost of meeting the smaller class sizes has not yet been calculated. This year, the Davis School District spent $2.5 million, using a property-tax hike, to cover a one-student reduction in average K-3 class sizes.

Peter Cannon, a member of the Davis school board, questioned whether the bill takes flexibility away from school districts. Cannon, who was not speaking on behalf of the Davis board, said the money might be better spent on improving teacher quality through a performance-pay system.

“We in the school districts know how to help our students,” Cannon said. “We don’t need to be told to help our students the way every other school district does.”

The state’s median class sizes are 22 for kindergarten, 23 for first grade, 24 for second grade and 25 for third grade, according to the State Office of Education.

During the same meeting, the committee also passed SB39, which would give the governor greater power in hiring and firing the state’s commissioner of higher education and the president of the Utah College of Applied Technology.

“The aim of this is to try to allow the governor to encourage coordination between the three silos of education,” said sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, referring to higher education, the applied technology colleges and public education.

The State Board of Regents would still select the state’s higher-ed commissioner, and the UCAT board of trustees would still choose a president. But their selections would have to be approved by the governor and the Senate. The governor could fire either appointee after consulting with the respective board.

Reid said Gov. Gary Herbert supports the bill.

 

Education Funding for Public Education – Senator Ben McAdams

On Friday, Senator Ben McAdams unveiled his bill to increase Utah’s public education funding without raising taxes for Utah families.

Here’s an article in the Deseret News which talks about his plan.

Money, technology to be top education issues this legislative session

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705397844/Money-technology-to-be-top-education-issues-this-legislative-session.html?pg=1

 

 

Senator, teachers ask for parent involvement in education

From KSL
by Molly Farmer

SALT LAKE CITY — When Liz Holloran asks one boy in her classroom why he does so well on tests, or why he’s so responsible at studying and homework, she always gets the same answer: “My Mom.”

 

Holloran, a fifth grade honors teacher at Westland Elementary, sees first-hand how important parental involvement is in producing successful children — a topic one Utah senator is planning to take on during the 2012 Legislative session.

 

Parents and communities — not just schools and teachers — have a responsibility to educate children, according to Sen. Pat Jones, D-Holladay. The assistant minority whip is drafting a resolution that would encourage parental engagement in hopes of highlighting her belief that it takes a community to truly educate a child.

 

“One of the common things that I hear (from teachers) is parents really are not taking the responsibility that they should be taking,” Jones said. “We need to engage parents and the community in getting them involved.”

That includes adequately preparing students for kindergarten, helping them with homework, reading aloud to them, volunteering in the classroom and more. She said her resolution is based in part on studies that show schools with active Parent Teacher Associations have higher student achievement than those who don’t.

 

Margaret Wahlstrom, spokeswoman for the Utah PTA, said her organization definitely supports the message of the resolution, but has not taken a formal position since it isn’t completed and filed.

 

“If the whole family is committed to the education of the children, there are beacoup studies that show students are more successful,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s just a win for everybody. … It is a no-brainer.”

 

Holloran said parents, regardless of their work schedule, would benefit from knowing the positive impact they have by following through with their children at home.

 

“I get to teach those kids,” she said. “When they are inspired and when they are motivated … I’m a teacher now, I’m not a disciplinarian.”

 

Jones said it troubles her that so often schools and teachers are maligned when students fail, when parents shirk their responsibility at home while “letting the schools pick up the pieces.”

 

Jones said she understands the challenges parents face, especially since many work long hours, or have long commutes, leaving little time to spend with their children. In those situations, Jones said community members need to step in to help.

 

“(It’s about) extending their arms to other kids that might not have that parental support,” she said.

 

Teachers have to fulfill tertiary roles as stand-in school nurses or counselors in addition to providing instruction and need all the support they can get, she said.

 

Kory Holdaway, government affairs director at the Utah Education Association, said Jones’ effort is something teachers will get behind.

 

“When we have the number of students that are being put into classrooms as we do… it just stands to reason that the more support that we can offer in the classroom the better services we can provide,” Holdaway said.

 

Beyond being attentive at home, Holdaway said parent volunteers who help out in the classroom regularly mean a lot to teachers, who have taken on more responsibilities in the last 20 years. He said he’d like to see the number of parents who volunteer in secondary schools match the number who spend time in earlier years.

 

“There’s a good part of that that goes on in elementary schools but it begins to diminish when we get into junior high and high school,” he said. “I think we need to figure out a way to keep those parents engaged.”

 

Holloran said she’s seen how successful children can be when parents and teachers work together.

 

“You do need that parent piece,” she said. “It’s very difficult to legislate parenthood, though. People have to know for themselves.”

Email:mfarmer@ksl.com

 

Utah State House & Senate Democrats Unveil the Best Schools Initiative

The future of Utah’s children is in danger as we let the quality of our Neighborhood Schools slip. Utah has allowed itself to become not only the 50th ranked state in the nation for how many resources we are willing to put towards our children’s education, but also 42nd in quality.

The teachers in Utah are the finest in the nation, but they are not miracle workers. If we truly wish to leave the next generation of Utahns a better world than the one we were given, we must immediately work to ensure that they are given the tools for success.

This year we are introducing the Best Schools Initiative, a product of months of work by both Utah State House and Utah State Senate legislators, to ensure that our children are able to perform and compete with the rest of the nation.

The primary focus of the Best Schools Initiative is to provide every Utah child with 4 things:

  • A Great Teacher
  • Individualized Attention
  • A World-Class Curriculum
  • Family and Neighborhood Support

For years, Utah has worked to make our state #1 in business, economic development, technology and tourism. As a result, we now have the resources to make our neighborhood schools #1 in the nation as well. As caretakers and stewards, why wouldn’t we use these resources to work on the long-term security of our future? The Best Schools Initiative is designed to wisely plan for the future – to bring in new jobs, businesses, economic strength and prosperity.
“The Best Schools Initiative has the potential to change the future of our neighborhood schools,” added Representative Carol Spackman Moss. “No less than the future of Utah depends on our willingness to take the appropriate steps now in our schools, to ensure the economic strength and prosperity of tomorrow.”“The teachers in our schools plant the seeds in our children’s hearts and minds that will last throughout their lives.” said Senator Ben McAdams. “We must ensure that those seeds are nurtured and allowed to grow.”

 

 

Summary of Bills in the Best Schools Initiative:

Class Size Reduction in Grades K-3
SB31
Senator Karen Morgan

SB31 is a five year plan to limit the number of students in academic classes. The caps would be asfollows:18 in kindergarten, 20 in first grade, 22 in second grade and 24 in third grade. Or, it wouldrequire teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals, in larger classes. 

Paraprofessionals for Struggling Schools

Not yet numbered
Senator Karen Mayne
Under the proposal, struggling schools would be able to hire additional paraprofessionals to assistteachers in the classroom and work individually with students who may not be receiving the attentionthey need.

Concurrent Resolution Encouraging Parental Engagement in the Education of Children
Not yet numbered
Senator Patricia Jones
A key to children doing well in school is for parents to be involved in their education. This concurrentresolution will encourage parents, communities, and neighborhoods to be engaged in Utah’s schools sothat our children may have every opportunity to succeed.

Publication of Education Fund Revenue Reductions
SB117
Senator Ben McAdams
SB117 introduces a plan to restructure our education fund by prioritizing growth.

Targeted Help for Underachieving Students
Not Yet Numbered
Representative Brian Doughty
Designed specifically to increase academic achievement, this bill will create additional assistance forscholastic after-school programs such as tutoring.

Teacher Mentoring Bill Summary
Not Yet Numbered
Representative Carol Spackman Moss
This bill would appropriate funds for a school district to implement a program called Peer Assistanceand Review using expert teachers to conduct regular evaluations for novice teachers andunderperforming veterans. Although it places much of the evaluation responsibility on peers, it requiresa team of teachers and administrators to manage it. It would address two problems: (1) Nearly half of all teachers leave the profession within five years (2) The growing concern about the continuedemployment of ineffective teachers. This program would also provide struggling teachers withintensive assistance and assessments of progress.

College and Career Counseling for High School Students
HB65
Representative Patrice Arent
Appropriates new funding to create the College and Career Counseling for High School Students PilotProgram. The goal of the program is to increase the number of students pursuing post-secondaryeducation by having a counselor who is a specialist in the college admissions process and scholarships.The State Office of Education will provide 18 specialists using interns who are students in collegemasters programs studying high school counseling. These students will be given special training onadmissions and scholarships, then placed with high schools. This program is necessary because Utah’shigh school counselors have some of the highest workloads in the nation. On average, Utah high schoolcounselors work with over 360 students, well above the recommended number. Many high schoolcounselors are barely able to keep up with making sure their students are registered for the right classes and deal with problems that occur on a daily basis. With respect to college counseling, students getlimited help. It takes specialized knowledge to understand the complexities of the college admissions process and identify scholarship opportunities, particularly for some of the very competitive collegesoutside our state. High schools that have these specialists are much more successful getting their students into post secondary programs and obtaining scholarships. The pilot program will utilize the resources of Utah’s new online program – utahfutures.org

Quality Teachers
Not Yet Numbered
Representative Brian King
This bill will put into place a more fair and streamlined process for identifying and either remediatingor terminating teachers who fall below accepted performance standards.

Resolution on World-Class Curriculum
Not Yet Numbered
Representative Marie Poulson
While we recognize that competency in reading, writing and math is the foundation for all other learning, and that these core subjects must be a major focus for schools, a quality education goes far  beyond competency in these core subjects. For Utah’s children we want to have quality education, nottest-orientated education.
Our public schools must have a rich and diverse curriculum that allows students to soar and not just to score–a strong core curriculum, along with a wide variety of electivesand broad enrichment opportunities that include the arts, music, science, history, literature, foreignlanguages, physical education, career and technology training.
Narrowing the curriculum in responseto grading schools and evaluating teachers has already prompted some districts to drop art, physical education and other non-tested subjects. It is imperative that Utah’s children have a rich, diverse,world-class curriculum to provide them with the tools to be creative, innovative, and critical thinkers–the most sought after assets in the 21st century.

Resolution On Student Health and School Efficiency
HJR 001
Representative Mark Wheatley
This resolution encourages the Utah State Board of Education to consider the broader application of thedesign and construction practices for green schools, both for new construction and major renovation projects undertaken with school district funds in order to increase the health and well-being of studentsand faculty, as well as greater efficiency in schools.

Professional Preparation
Not Yet Numbered
Representative Joel Briscoe
Rep. Briscoe’s bill will provide every Utah teacher an additional day to prepare for school. Professional preparation days were cut in almost every Utah school district the past three years as school districtstruggled to balance budgets. Additional time to prepare for the school year is an important part of supporting quality teachers.