Across the States
Homeschool Bills Left Behind
The Utah legislature closed its 2007 session on February 28 after passing 422 bills. Home School Legal Defense Association tracked 11 of these bills.
Most notable for homeschoolers was Senate Bill 81, which would have taken away the requirement that Utah families obtain a notarized affidavit for homeschooling and would have required public schools to allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, this bill was amended to keep the affidavit requirement. While the bill did not pass, we hope that its sponsor, Senator Mark Madsen, will reintroduce it next term with the same language and work to remove the requirement for a signed affidavit, making it easier for Utah homeschoolers to submit their affidavit to the authorities.
Another promising bill, introduced by Senator Chris Buttars, was S.B. 111, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)-this bill also did not pass. In other states, HSLDA is using religious freedom acts to help protect the parental right to homeschool for religious reasons regardless of changes to homeschool laws. To continue to advance and protect homeschool freedom, this important legislation is needed in every state.
We hope that Senator Buttars will reintroduce S.B. 111 in the next session and will amend it to remove the clause exempting behavior that is criminal. For example, truancy is a criminal proceeding. Thus, a criminal behavior exception clause would bar a parent who was homeschooling for religious reasons and was later convicted of truancy, from claiming protection under the RFRA.
— by Michael P. Donnelly