The 106th Congress began in January 1999 with House Republicans holding a very narrow majority and with conservative, pro-freedom members in the minority. However, home schoolers worked hard to protect freedom, and we have much for which to be thankful. Here is a brief overview of HSLDAs top legislative issues for 1999:
When the GOALS 2000: Educate America Act came up for reauthorization in 1999, House Education Committee Chairman Bill Goodling kept his promise not to reauthorize it. An eleventh hour agreement was stuck during Fiscal Year 2000 budget negotiations with the White House to repeal Titles III and IV of GOALS 2000, effective September 30, 2000, killing the main federally funded parts of the program.
Equal Access in DOD Schools
Congress passed nondiscriminatory language in the Defense Authorization bill, allowing home schoolers on military bases in foreign countries to access Department of Defense schools, facilities, and equipment.
Higher Education Regulations
The Higher Education Act, passed by Congress in October 1998, allows home schoolers to be eligible for federal college scholarships and loans as long as they have obtained a home school high school diploma. No GED or Ability to Benefit test is required.
In 1999, HSLDA worked with Congress on implementing the change, recognizing home schoolers right to self-certify their home school diplomas.
Educational Power to the States
H.R. 2300, The Academic Achievement for All (Straight As) Actallows up to 10 states flexibility with federal K12 funds. (Passed House, Senate action pending.)
H.R. 1995, the Teacher Empowerment Actcombines funds from several programs to give schools more flexibility in improving teacher quality and hiring more teachers. (Passed House, Senate action pending.)
H.R. 800, the Education Flexibility Partnership Actallows states and school districts to bypass some federal program requirements. (Signed by president.)
H. Res. 303, Dollars to the Classroom Resolutioncalls for 95 percent of federal funding to go directly to the classroom. (Passed the House, Senate action pending.)
Religious Liberty Protection Act
Although Commerce Clause provisions of H.R. 1691, the Religious Liberty Protection Act, make it clearly unconstitutional, the House passed it. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott promised a vote on the RLPA before the end of 1999. However, continued opposition from conservatives and liberals, and disintegration of the pro-RLPA coalition, delayed action. (Senate action pending.)
Children Tax ID Alternative Act
Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) and Rep. Bill Goodling (R-PA), introduced language eliminating discrimination against families with religious objections to obtaining Social Security numbers for their children. Under this bill, these parents could submit alternative proof of identification of their children in order to claim their dependent deduction and child tax credits. We hope for action in the coming session.
TAXES & SPENDING
Marriage Tax Penalty
The House and Senate both passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1999, which included $150 billion in meaningful marriage-penalty relief. (Vetoed by president. Top priority for 2000.)
Education Savings Accounts
HSLDA supported expansion of education savings accounts to allow parents to save funds tax-free for K12 home school education expenses. Part of the Taxpayer Relief Act vetoed by the president.
Education Tax Credits
Several bills were introduced that would allow parents to claim federal income tax credits for elementary and secondary school expenses and for contributions to charitable organizations which provide scholarships for children to attend such schools. Home schools would be eligible. S. 138/H.R. 1710, the K12 Education Excellence Now Act
H.R. 1710 the Childrens Education Tax Credit Act
H.R. 600 Education Tax Credit Act of 1999.
(House and Senate action pending.)
National ID Card
An amendment to repeal part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibilities Act was included in the 1999 Department of Transportation Appropriations bill, H.R. 2084. This amendment repealed the provision which would have prohibited any American from getting a job, opening a bank account, or even taking an airplane flight unless his state drivers license contained a social security number.
Proposed FDIC Banking Rules
Following a record number of calls and e-mails opposing this incredible invasion of privacy, the FDIC and three other banking regulatory agencies withdrew the Know Your Customer regulations on March 24, 1999.
NOTE: Learn more about these issues at http://nche.hslda.org. Look for HSLDAs legislative goals for this year at the same web address and in the next issue of the Court Report.
Also, sign up for HSLDA@Capitol Hill E-lert Service at www.hslda.org or call 540.338.5600. Free to HSLDA members.