VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report January 31, 2006 by Celeste Land, Government Affairs HOMESCHOOLING BILLS ADVANCE TO SENATE This has been an unusuallyFeb 1, 2006 1 of 1View Source
VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
January 31, 2006
by Celeste Land, Government Affairs
HOMESCHOOLING BILLS ADVANCE TO SENATE
This has been an unusually eventful week for homeschooling legislation in the Virginia General Assembly. In the past two days, three bills to amend the home instruction statute have been approved by the House of Delegates and now go to the Senate for their approval. The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) is working hard in support of this legislation, which will benefit homeschoolers across the state.
VaHomeschoolers’ two bills, HB 1483 (Tata, R-Virginia Beach) and HB 1588 (Moran, D-Alexandria) sailed through the full House of Delegates on Monday, January 30 by a 99-0 vote. HB 1483 (notice of intent; testing & evaluation) would increase options for parents filing under option iv of the notice of intent, clarify the language regarding mid-year withdrawal of children from public school, and provide objective testing options for families who submit achievement test scores to their local school district. HB 1588 (PSAT testing) would require school districts to implement plans to make the Advanced Placement (AP) and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) examinations available to students receiving home instruction. We are very pleased with the progress of our bills so far, and look forward to reporting on their journey through the Senate in the weeks to come.
HB 1340 (Bell, R-Charlottesville), “the high school diploma bill”, also passed the House of Delegates this week, but not without some opposition. On Monday, January 30, Delegate Armstrong (D-Martinsville) proposed amending HB 1340 on the floor of the House of Delegates. Delegate Armstrong’s amendment would have required children whose parents did not have college degrees to pass the SOL exams for their grade level. After brief speeches against the amendment by Delegates Reid (R-Henrico) and Bell , the Speaker moved that the amendment was “not germane” (not appropriate for consideration by the House) because it dealt with student qualifications, not parental qualifications.
After this debate, HB 1340 was supposed to be engrossed (printed in an official manner prior to the actual vote on the bill on Tuesday). This is usually a pro forma step in the legislative process. However, Delegate Armstrong asked for a vote on the engrossment of HB 1340, and asked members to vote against engrossment because his floor amendment had not been adopted.
The House voted 60-38 to engross (print) HB 1340 on Monday, January 30, and actually voted to approve the bill itself on Tuesday, January 31, by a vote of 62-37. As with similar legislation passed in 2004, the vote was largely along party lines, with Republicans largely voting for the bill and Democrats largely voting against it.
HB 1340 now goes to the Senate for its approval. Meanwhile, identical bill SB 499 (Puckett, D-Tazewell) has passed the full Senate and now goes to the House for its approval. Even though these bills are identical to each other and have each been approved by their respective chambers, both bills must still go through the complete legislative process before they can go to the Governor. Ironically, because the bill was contested on the House side, the Senate is now more likely to scrutinize and contest HB 1340, even though it has already approved this same language earlier in the session.
Under HB 1340 and SB 499, parents with high school diplomas would be able to file a notice of intent to homeschool under option i of 22.1-254.1. At this time, most parents without baccalaureate degrees file under either option iii or option iv. HB 1340 would give parents without college degrees additional flexibility when complying with the home instruction statute. This legislation was introduced by HEAV, and is supported by VaHomeschoolers.
To Learn More or Take Action
Persons wishing to express an opinion on legislation should contact their
own delegate or senator as appropriate. For complete text of any
bills, see "Legislative Information" on the General Assembly's web page at
http://legis.state.va.us/ or contact VaHomeschoolers for more information.
The General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint office provides a toll-free,
intrastate telephone message center (during session) to take calls from
citizens of the Commonwealth wishing to express an opinion on legislation. Callers
will be asked to provide their name, address, and the issue on which they are
expressing their opinion. The message will be transmitted to the
constituent's appropriate legislators. If a caller seeks additional information
concerning legislation or wishes to speak directly with a legislator, the operator will
provide the telephone number. The hours of operation are from 8:30 a.m.
until 5:00 p.m. The number for the toll-free opinion line is (800) 889-0229.
Callers in the Richmond area may dial 698-1990.