HB186: House and Senate don’t agree on school board elections


By Cassidy Hansen
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY—A bill to modify elections for members of school boards in the State of Utah failed to receive a final go ahead. Disagreements over HB186, which had passed both the Senate and the House in previous iterations, went unresolved as the 2015 legislative session came to an end.

Vintage postcard of the Utah House of Representatives Chambers. Notice differences with today’s chamber including fewer seats and the flag draped beyond the Speaker’s desk.

The bill, which would have provided for partisan elections of school board candidates and the option of appointment subject to a constitutional amendment, would also remove non-voting members and modify reporting requirements.

“I feel like I sent them a nice car, and they sent me a mule back,” said Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, regarding the original bill that was sent to the Senate. “in their minds, all legislation germinates over there,” he added.

Not all House members were on board with sticking it to the Senate. Some supported the Senate bill, citing the importance of some legislation in the wake of September’s federal court decision striking down the current school board membership and election system.

“I understand my colleague’s frustration, but we have to pass something this session,” said Rep. Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. “Nothing else is going to pass the Senate; we need to address this issue. I think this is a good compromise.”

Rep. Liffereth, R-Eagle Mountain, added, “If we don’t decide on this, it will turn it over to a judge and he will decide.”

Ultimately, the body voted resoundingly against the amendments made by the Senate and the bill failed to pass.

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