UTAH LEGISLATURE

Bill to replace DEI offices overwhelmingly passes Utah House

Jan 19, 2024, 7:55 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2024, 10:29 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The bill to replace diversity, equity and inclusion offices in Utah’s public schools is flying through the Utah Legislature. It passed the House Friday morning and is expected be heard in a Senate committee by early next week.

The bill prohibits any programs, office or training promoting differential treatment based on race, color, sexual orientation or any other identity characteristic.

It applies to higher education, public schools, the state board of education and government employers, such as cities or county health departments.

During the hearing, several Democrats spoke against its provisions and even tried to change some of them. In the end, however, the vote was overwhelming with the majority 58-14, along party lines.

The bill did get some slight tweaks to make sure federal grants that require DEI programs can still be approved by a city or county council. But it still can’t use the name diversity, equity and inclusion.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Katy Hall, R-South Ogden, maintains it won’t get rid of cultural centers or scholarships and students currently receiving services can continue.

Democrats took issue with how it would impact county health programs for people of color.

Minority Leader Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said she became a lawmaker because she was in the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs in college.

“I’m afraid that we’re erasing people, we’re erasing identities, we’re erasing experiences,” she said. “And I know people’s intent. And isn’t that I’m not saying anyone in this room is doing that on purpose. But I want to remind all my colleagues there’s unintentional consequences when we just try to sweep things and say we’re all the same because we’re not.”

Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, took issue with health programs that could be impacted.

“Black and African American women face higher rates of infant mortality than the general population by a rate of 250%. Getting rid of programming like this eliminates what we’re actively doing to try to do to lessen those disparities,” she said.

Hall argued this bill helps all students by setting success centers, where all at-risk students can get help.

“It doesn’t close cultural centers. It does not defund programs or scholarships. It does not exclude students who need extra services for their academic success, including those who are already receiving services,” said Hall.

“We have a statutory commitment to diversity and especially equality of opportunity. So I think this opens the door to all Utahans to not be judged based on a group or an identity, but to look at the individual,” she added.

Late Friday, University of Utah President Taylor Randall was seen going into the Senate chambers. It’s not known the University’s position on the bill or what changes, if any, could be proposed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah Legislature

The Larry H. Miller Company and Miller family unveiled renderings for the Power District, a nearly ...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah Legislature unveils plan to help finance new MLB stadium

Utah's taxpayer funds are intertwined in a new bill proposed to fund a stadium that will help bring a Major League Baseball team to Utah. State leaders think the investment will pay off.

1 day ago

Utah Capitol building...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com and Lindsay Aerts, KSL-TV

Bill to ‘simplify’ lawsuit over Utah’s abortion trigger ban passes House committee

The Utah legislature is advancing a bill that would undo the law that banned Utah's abortion clinics from getting licenses. That law is currently on hold anyway while it's tied up in a lawsuit.

2 days ago

Eye check...

Emma Benson

Bill would lower qualifications to perform some eye surgeries

Everyone deserves quality access to eyecare – but a bill making its way through the Utah legislature is causing some controversy. 

5 days ago

significant shift is coming for candidates who have to gather signatures to get on the ballot -- a ...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah Legislature approves candidate signature gathering change

A significant shift is coming for candidates who have to gather signatures to get on the ballot -- a state-approved app allowing them to verify a voter's eligibility in real-time.

6 days ago

Tuesday February 9, 2006. Photo by Scott G. Winterton / Deseret Morning News.The Ten Commandments m...

Daniel Woodruff

Utah House committee approves Ten Commandments bill despite constitutional concerns

A Utah lawmaker is no longer pushing for public schools to display a copy of the Ten Commandments but wants to add other biblical precepts and the Magna Carta to the curriculum.

7 days ago

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline did not attend the scheduled meeting at the Capi...

Lindsay Aerts and Michael Houck

Utah State Board of Education votes to strip Natalie Cline of board powers, asks her to resign

After a nearly two-hour closed-door session, the Utah State Board of Education voted to strip Natalie Cline of virtually all of her powers.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Bill to replace DEI offices overwhelmingly passes Utah House