Federal Issues Update
As Congress pushes to finish business before their scheduled October 6 recess, the National Center for Home Education, a division of Home School Legal Defense Association, is working to incorporate changes in several bills likely to be considered.
HSLDA Posts Equal Access Special Report
The issue of equal access to public school activities is being debated among those in the home schooling community. Some home schoolers oppose equal access on the basis that government should have no involvement in private education. They believe home schoolers should not trade their hard-won freedom from government oversight for these services. Others assert it is unfair to keep home schoolers out of public school programs when their taxes help pay for these programs.
Home School Legal Defense Association has compiled a report summarizing home schoolers' common arguments on equal access, both pro and con. To read this report, visit our Issues Library at http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/
-Congress Fails to Override Marriage Tax Penalty Veto
-House Marks Up NAEP
-Congress Slips RLUIPA Through
-FY 2001 Appropriations
Congress Fails to Override Marriage Tax Penalty Veto
On September 13, 2000, the United States House of Representatives attempted to override President Clintons veto of the Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Bill (H.R. 4810). The 270-150 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required by the Constitution.
By vetoing H.R. 4810 on August 5for the second time in two yearsthe president reneged on his less-than-one-year-old promise to support Marriage Tax Penalty Relief legislation.
The vetoed bill would have fixed a flaw in IRS code that taxes married couples at a much higher rate than unmarried, cohabiting couples. The bill also would have given significant relief to all families in the 15 percent tax bracket, allowing them to keep $600-$1,000 more each year. HSLDA supports family tax relief and is disappointed that our president and many in Congress did not follow through on their verbal support of this proposal.
House Marks Up NAEP
H.R. 4875, the bill reauthorizing the National Assessment Education Progress test (NAEP), was marked up on July 26. The House Education Committee has accepted three of HSLDAs key reform recommendations: (1) the bill limits subjects areas that can be tested, (2) state and local educational agencies cannot be forced to participate in long-term NAEP assessement and may opt not to test, and (3) national testing is clearly prohibited.
Is the bill perfect? By no means. Our staff continues to work with the committee on additional changes. While sources inform us it appears unlikely that this bill will be passed this year, this years work provides a solid foundation for action in the 107th Congress.
Congress Slips RLUIPA Through
On July 27, both chambers of Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (S. 2869) by unanimous consent just before leaving for summer recess.
This bill is a less offensive version of the Religious Liberty Protection Act (RLPA) passed earlier this year by the U.S. House. However, S. 2869 still uses the constitutional power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce to protect religious freedoma provision that HSLDA believes is unconstitutional and may actually increase federal regulation of religious activity.
HSLDA is very disappointed in the manner by which this bill was passed. Not a single vote was cast for or against this bill. By using the parliamentary procedure of unanimous consent, Congress deliberately bypassed the accountability of a recorded vote. President Clinton is expected to sign this bill.
FY 2001 Appropriations
There is a big difference between appropriations and authorization. Fixing a bill through the authorization process is only half the battle. The other half is fought in the appropriations committee. It is not uncommon for a program that has been eliminated to be refunded and by default, reauthorized. This years Fiscal Year 2001 Education Appropriations Bill is no different. Here are a few key provisions we are following:
- Goals 2000Last fall, HSLDA worked closely with members of House and Senate leadership to ensure that the most damaging parts of Goals 2000Titles III & IVwere finally repealed and declared dead. By eliminating these failed education titles, U.S. taxpayers were scheduled to save over $500 million dollars each year, and the failed one-size-fits-all education mandates of Goals 2000 were finally eliminated. However, while the House zero-funded these programs, this years Senate appropriators have decided to side with President Clinton and keep Goals 2000 on life support for another year by approving at least $33 million for Title IV spending and $3.5 million for Title VIthe National Skills Standards Board. This is unacceptable. HSLDAs National Center is lobbying Congress to stop artificially sustaining Goals 2000 and stop this wasted spending.
- School-to-WorkWe are pleased to report that it appears that the final nail has been placed in the School-to-Work coffin. Praise God for this tremendous victory. The elimination of the federal STW program has been a top HSLDA goal for several years. Neither the House, Senate, nor Clinton Administration requested funding this year for this federal program. While STW may continue to be a problem at the state level, it is clear thatonce the FY 2001 bill is signed by the presidentthe federal School-to-Work program is no longer a threat.
- National TestingHSLDA fought for and achieved inclusion of specific language prohibiting any funds from being used to carry out any activities related to a federally sponsored national test once again in this years appropriations bill. This assures that no money can be used to develop and implement a test which could create a national curriculum.
The National Center is presently working with Congress to fix a longstanding law that discriminates against some home schoolers. We hope to accomplish this by amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Currently, in states where the law does not recognize home schools as private schools, home schooling families with special needs children cannot receive federal assistance. Our proposed amendment will include home schools that operate as either a private school or home school under state law. We are also working to end the requirement that families who do not wish to receive government services comply with certain child find mandates by states.