VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report: January 21, 2007
VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
VaHomeschoolers is neutral in matters of religion and partisan politics.
"Helping homeschoolers is our only agenda."
VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
January 21, 2007
by Celeste Land, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, Government Affairs
The Virginia General Assembly convened in Richmond on January 10. Homeschooling issues appear to be on the backburner in the legislature this year, as lawmakers from across the state debate more pressing issues, such as transportation funding and the Governor’s proposed preschool initiative. However, the session is still young, and much can still happen between now and mid-February.
As always, The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) is diligently representing Virginia ’s diverse homeschooling community in the General Assembly. Here are a few of the issues we are investigating during the initial weeks of the session:
Tax Credit Legislation
Because VaHomeschoolers’ membership is sharply divided over the issue of tax credits for homeschoolers, we do not support or oppose any homeschooling tax credit legislation. We do monitor such legislation closely for its possible impact on homeschoolers, and work with the patrons to craft or amend such legislation as needed.
For more information on tax credits, visit our website at http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/law/tax.asp .
Delegate Saxman (R-Staunton) has introduced HB 1843, which would create income tax credits for businesses and individuals who make contributions to educational scholarship foundations. Scholarship foundations could be established to benefit public schools, private schools, or homeschooled students. Under this bill, homeschooling parents would not receive a tax credit for their educational expenses, but qualifying homeschooling families could receive scholarships for educational expenses from a scholarship foundation.
As currently written, homeschooling families who wished to receive a scholarship from a foundation under HB 1843 would have to comply with health and safety, occupancy permit, and nondiscrimination regulations which are designed for public and private schools. The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers and Delegate Saxman are working together to amend this language to eliminate these prerequisites for homeschooling families.
Day Care Workers Legislation
SB 1353 (Wagner, R-Virginia Beach ) would establish qualification guidelines for program directors, program leaders, and general staff for regulated child day care centers. The qualification guidelines for certain positions include the requirement of a “high school diploma or GED or verification of completion of a home school program approved by the state”. This would exclude homeschool graduates who homeschooled under the religious exemption or approved tutor provision, and could also result in additional regulation of families who file under the home instruction statute. VaHomeschoolers is working with the patron to craft new language which would address these concerns.
Election Officer Legislation
HB 3052 (Alexander, R-Norfolk) would allow high school students age 16 or older to serve as “officer of election interns”. These students would perform the same duties of officers of election as adults, and would receive the same training and compensation. Home schooled students “in good academic standing” would be allowed to participate in the program.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers continues to monitor numerous bills dealing with educational alternatives. This includes Governor Kaine’s pending preschool initiative, bills regarding tuition credits or school grants for students with disabilities (SB 757 and SB 759, Stotsch, R-Glen Allen) and bills to establish experimental “university charter schools” as a public school alternative (HB 2311, Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge and HB 2509, D.C. Jones, D-Richmond). While these bills as currently written do not affect homeschoolers, these issues have the potential to affect homeschooling laws in Virginia in the future.
Delegate Peace (R-Mechanicsville) introduced HJ 702, a resolution to form a joint subcommittee to study “open education content resources” (online education resources) in the public schools. The subcommittee would have included a representative from the homeschooling community in its membership. The bill was tabled (killed) by the House Rules Committee on January 17.
The House Transportation Committee is considering numerous bills pertaining to driver education this year, including several of interest to homeschooling parents who are teaching driver education to their teens.. These include bills to ban holders of learner’s permits (HB 1876, Caputo, D-Chantilly) and holders of provisional licenses (HB 3066, Miller, D-Norfolk) from using cell phones while driving. Another bill (HB 2702, Hugo, R-Centreville) requires use of “professional” driver training schools and instructors if parents choose to use those services (Parents who choose to teach the behind-the-wheel portion of the course would not be affected by this legislation as currently written.) Another bill, HB 1655 (Lohr, R-Harrisonburg) would have extended the number of hours behind the wheel required of all teen drivers; this bill died in the House Transportation Committee on January 17.
Homeschooled children are subject to the same vaccination and immunization laws as children attending public schools. For more information on this subject, visit VaHomeschoolers’ website at http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/law/vaccinations.asp
Several bills have been introduced this year to add the HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) to the list of required immunizations for school aged female children (including homeschoolers). The bills include HB 1914 (Ward, D-Hampton), HB 2035 (R-Newport News), and SB 1230 (Howell, D-Reston). The two House bills include an opt-out provision, while the Senate bill does not.
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 at GovtAffairs@... 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.
Please feel free to forward this message to other homeschoolers and homeschool groups or email lists who might find this information useful. If this message was forwarded to you, be sure to join the VaHomeschoolers Announce List to receive future updates directly.
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The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
PO Box 5131
Charlottesville , VA 22905