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House passes bill that alters operations of Utah High School Activities Association

By Marjorie Cortez | Posted - Mar. 6, 2017 at 10:27 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would change the governing board of the Utah High School Activities Association, create a new panel for adjudicating appeals and impose state open meetings and records requirements was overwhelmingly supported Monday night by the Utah House.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, emphatically explained that HB413 does not address students' transfers to other schools but makes many other needed changes that ensure transparency and accountability.

Last year, the Utah State Board of Education passed a board rule that loosened transfer prohibitions, but the board has agreed to revisit that unpopular decision, Gibson said.

The legislation directs the activities association to adhere to the state Government Records Access and Management Act and calls for the creation of an independent hearing panel to ensure UHSAA rules are consistently followed.

The legislation was developed by a working group of state and local school board members, superintendents, high school coaches and members of the media.

"If you were to ask every single one of them, they will know this was not the big hand of the Legislature that created this bill," Gibson said.

Even so, some have balked at a line in the bill that states: "Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah," he said.

"We're not taking control. They'll still have their functions," he said.

Gibson, who coached high school football for six years, said he understands the issues well.

"I've seen this up close and personal as well. These changes will not hurt high school athletics. They will hopefully benefit the operations on the UHSAA," he said.

The House of Representatives, on a vote of 62-13, passed the bill Monday night. It now moves to the Senate for its consideration. uyEmail: marjorie@deseretnews.com

Marjorie Cortez

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