Bill Passed out of Committee that Would Require High School Students to Learn CPR Before Graduation

Feb 19, 2013

A bill that would require high school students to learn CPR before graduating passed out of committee on Wednesday afternoon after one lawmaker questioned whether it was the legislature’s place to decide the curriculum of Utah schools. This story tells us how the bill’s sponsor succeeded in getting her bill advanced.

Health education courses in Utah teach what Democratic Representative Carol Moss calls vital, life-saving skills. But the budget for these programs comes from grants that are harder and harder to come by.  Moss is sponsoring HB 303, which would require the State Board of Education to include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, in the core curriculum standards for instruction in health.

“I know we talk a lot, especially in this committee, about kids being prepared for college and careers. But this is a skill that could prepare them for life. And I don’t think there is any greater skill than to be able to save a person’s life. ”

But Moss’s legislation faced stiff questioning during a meeting of the House Education Committee on Wednesday. Republican Representative Jim Nielson, of Bountiful, said it wasn't the place of the legislature to say what should be taught in schools, and that funding is tight enough already.

“Any dollars we put here are coming from somewhere else. If we insist on CPR and potentially AED instruction what comes next? Do we start teaching yoga? Do we start teaching the Heimlich maneuver? Do we train people on how to give driving directions and how to follow them? Do we teach people to be good listeners? Do we train people in personal dental hygiene? I mean, where do we stop?”

But Representative Moss countered that the State Board already has CPR in its core curriculum, but that her bill is most concerned with addressing the fact that funding has dried up. House Bill 303 would allocate $200,000 in ongoing appropriation from the Education Fund.

“You make a good point, but life skills are part of the health education curriculum, and they include First Aid and CPR and I’m not adding anything new. It’s something that other people have already decided and determined and it’s been accepted. The board has accepted that and it’s part of a curriculum that exists.”

Majority Whip Gregory Hughes of Draper, was among the other members of the committee who argued to approve Moss’s bill, saying that the legislature should have a hand in creating what he called a good policy.

The bill eventually narrowly passed the committee on an 7 to 6 vote after more than 40 minutes of debate.