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The Salt Lake Tribune
The Utah House on Monday stepped into a long-simmering debate over Utah prep sports, approving new requirements for the Utah High School Activities Association.
It passed HB413 on a 62-13 vote, and sent it to the Senate. It places the association under Utah's open meetings and records laws, and cuts the group's governing body in half -- from 32 members to 15.
During the fall and winter, the Utah Board of Education approved and later delayed implementation of a policy that compels the association to loosen its restrictions on student-athletes transferring between teams.
Those transfer restrictions, seen by UHSAA as a check against improper recruitment and gamesmanship, were left untouched by HB413, which bill sponsor Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said is focused on increased public transparency.
UHSAA opposes the bill. The group, which oversees extracurricular activities like debate and theater in addition to athletics, is a voluntary organization for public and private high schools with a governing body composed of school and school district representatives.
Some lawmakers objected to the blurred lines presented by the association, which operates as a private entity despite receiving dues from public schools, in the form of taxpayer dollars, and conducts its events in public facilities.
"We're not taking over control," Gibson told the House. "They will still have their functions," but will need to operate with more transparency.
Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, a retired teacher, called the bill "legislative overreach" for an organization "that has operated scandal-free for 92 years."
She added, "It's one more example of how the Legislature decides how schools … should do their business," and added, "This is something that didn't need a fix."
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