NEWS

a division of Home School Legal Defense Association
October 21, 1998

1997-98 Achievements in Congress

PREPARED BY THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR HOME EDUCATION,
A DIVISION OF THE HOME SCHOOL LEGAL DEFENSE ASSOCIATION


Religious Liberty Protection Act

HR.4019 / S.2148

SUCCESS

Description:
Designed to deal with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Boerne case, the bill attempted to restore the same religious liberty protections found in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by extending the authority of the Federal government through the Commerce Clause of the Constitution

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposed the RLPA on the grounds that it violated principles of faith and federalism.HSLDA opposes the unconstitutional expansion of federal power through the Commerce Clause and we opposed “protecting“ worship by saying it is commerce.

Level of Success:
HSLDA lead the effort to oppose the RLPA. Succeeded in removing the offending interstate commerce section from House version; passed Subcommittee on the Constitution

Status:
Both the House and Senate held hearing specifically on the RLPA. The House subcommittee on the Constitution passed the substitute non-commerce version.

SUCCESS: It is likely that supporters will reintroduce the RLPA in the next Congress.


Ban on Federal Testing

(H.R. 2486/ S. 1215) and in Appropriations

SUCCESS

Description:
Prohibits the Department of Education from developing federalized tests without the consent of Congress.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes national testing because we do not recognize any federal authority over matters of education, and because a national test will lead to a national curriculum.

Level of Success:
The House bill passed (242-174), but there was no action in Senate.

In addition, language prohibiting the spending of funds for the development or implementation of national tests was included in the final omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 1999.

Status:
The testing ban language was included in the FY99 omnibus spending bill which passed the House on Oct. 20, 1998 (333-95) and passed the Senate on Oct. 21, 1998 (65-29). It was signed by the President on October 21, 1998.

SUCCESS


Vocational Education Reauthorization

SUCCESS

(H.R. 1853 / S. 1186) The Perkins Vocational Education Act / Workforce Investment Partnership Act

Description:
Reauthorized vocational education programs that are run by the federal government.HSLDA’s concern has been that these programs often link secondary education programs with adult school-to-work style programs.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA does not support the reauthorization of these federal vocational education programs. We did, however, work to include protections for home schoolers.

HSLDA worked hard to be sure that HR1853 - dealt with ONLY tradition vocation education

Level of Success:
Passed in the House and Senate.HSLDA was successful at retaining our protections in both the House and Senate versions including prohibitions on:
1.) applications to home schooling,
2.) requirements for certificates of mastery,
3.) Mandated career paths, and
4.) National databases.

Status:
Conference report passed the Senate on Oct. 8, 1998 by an Unanimous Consent Agreement, and passed the House by a voice vote Oct. 10, 1998.

SUCCESS: We are thankful that our protections and prohibitions are included.


Job Training Reauthorization

SUCCESS

(HR. 1385 / S.1186)
The Employment Training and Literacy Enhancement Act of 1997/ Workforce Investment Partnership Act

Description:
Reauthorized and consolidated adult job training programs that currently exist within the federal government.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA did not support the reauthorization of these federal adult education programs. We did work to include certain protections for home schoolers in the final language and supported amendments that were added that removed dangerous language.

HSLDA worked hard to be sure that HR1385 - dealt with ONLY adult training.

Level of Success:
HSLDA was successful at retaining our protections in both the House and Senate versions:

1.) not applicable to home schools,
2.) funds cannot be used for school-to-work, and
3.) no funds can be used to create or implement curriculum.

Status:
Passed in the House July 31, 1998 (without objection) and Senate July 30, 1998 (Unanimous consent) and signed by the President on August 7, 1998.

SUCCESS: Language protecting home schoolers included in the final law.


Higher Education Reauthorization

SUCCESS

(HR6)

Description:
Reauthorizes certain aspects of higher education for federal programs including grants and scholarship programs.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA does not support federal involvement in higher education.HSLDA opposes discrimination against home schoolers in regards to admission requirements and “Ability to Benefit” requirements that require home schoolers to get a GED in order to qualify for scholarships.

Level of Success:
HSLDA worked with Congressional Education staff to include in the House and Senate report language a condemnation of college admission discrimination against home schoolers.

Our meetings also succeeded in convincing the higher education associations to issue new voluntary guidelines rather than federal legislation to solve the problem.

The “Ability to Benefit” language was amended to allow home schoolers seeking college scholarships or grants to qualify by simply demonstrating that they completed high school in a home school setting. No GED will be required.

Status:
SUCCESS: HR.6 passed House in May (414-4) and the Senate in July (96-1). The House passed the Conference Report on September 28. The Senate passed the Conference Report on September 29th. H.R. 6 was signed on Oct. 7, 1998.


Education Savings Accounts

HOUSE & SENATE SUCCESS. VETOED BY THE PRESIDENT.

(H.R. 2646 including testing ban and Gorton block grants)

Description:
Bill allowed parents to set aside money in interest bearing savings accounts (interest accrues tax free) to use for education expenses.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA supports Education Savings Accounts which simply allow parents to save their own money in a tax free account for education purposes, Kindergarten through College.

Level of Success:
HSLDA worked to include a testing ban in the Senate version, as well as, the Gorton block grants which would have effectively ended Goals 2000 and STW. These additions were removed in conference.

Status:
The savings accounts conference report passed both House June 18, 1998 (225-197) and Senate June 24, 1998 (59-36), but was vetoed by the President on July 21, 1998.

HOUSE & SENATE SUCCESS.
PRESIDENT VETOED.


Dollars to the Classroom

HOUSE SUCCESS.
SENATE DELAYED.

(H.R. 3248 / S. 1589)

Description:
This bill takes funding from 31 existing federal education programs and turns them into block grants to the states to spend as they wish.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA supports the block granting of federal education funds as a step in the elimination of the federal role in education.

Level of Success:
Passed House (212-198); Sen. Tim Hutchinson introduced in Senate.

Status:
Passed the House September 18, 1998 (212-198).

HOUSE SUCCESS
SENATE ACTION DELAYED.


Eliminating Home School discrimination in military recruitment.

DoD Reauthorization

SUCCESS

Description:
This bill reauthorizes military programs.

HSLDA has been concerned about discrimination in recruitment policies that effect home schoolers.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes discrimination against home schoolers by military recruiters by placing home schoolers in tier II priority status.

HSLDA worked to include language in the final bill that moves home schoolers from Tier II status (with GED diploma students) to Tier I (high school graduates) during a 5 year pilot program.

Level of Success:
Working with Sen. Coverdell, we were able to secure an amendment in the DOD reauthorization bill which requires a 5 year pilot study to track home schoolers in the military.

The bills passed both Houses and went to conference. Our language is protected.

Status:
The Conference report passed the House on September 24, 1998 (373-50), and the Senate Oct. 1, 1998 (96-2). It was signed by the President on Oct. 17, 1998.

SUCCESS


National Assessment of Educational Progress Reauthorization

DELAYED

Description:
Continues authorization for next five years.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes NAEP’s exam gradual expansion into national standards and national curricula.

Level of Success:
HSLDA testified in a hearing on this issue. No action this Congress.

Status:
Will be taken up next Congress.

ACTION DELAYED TO NEXT YEAR.


Marriage Penalty Elimination.

HOUSE ACTION DELAYED

Description:
Adjusts tax brackets and standard deductions to eliminate disparity between tax rates of singles and married couples.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA supports the elimination of the marriage penalty.

Level of Success:
Introduced in several versions. Weller-McIntosh proposal eliminated the marriage tax penalty and helped stay-at-home moms.

Some relief included in the House “90-10 Plan” which sets aside 10% of the surplus for tax cuts: adjusts the standard deduction only.

Status:
No significant relief expected until next Congress.

HOUSE SUCCESS
SENATE ACTION DELAYED.


Citizen tracking through the use of social security numbers.

Oppose expansion of the mandatory use and reporting of social security numbers for the purpose of tracking citizens.

SUCCESS

Description:
The federal government continues to change federal law to allow the use of the SSN as a citizen tracking number.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes the use of social security numbers as citizens tracking identifiers.

Level of Success:
Last year we successfully opposed certain provisions of the Welfare Technical Corrections bill HR. 1048 that expanded the use of social security numbers for identification purposes.

The same bad language resurfaced in HR 3130. We again worked with staff to remove this language in conference.

Status:
On going problem to be watched.

SUCCESS: Stopped federal requirement that states collect SSNs.


Protect the right of families to refuse to use social security numbers for their children.

DELAYED

Description:
Restore dependent standard deduction for parents who object to social security numbers for their children.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA supports the repeal § 1615 (a)(1) of HR 3448, “The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996,” which authorized the IRS to deny the dependency exemption entirely if a taxpayer fails to provide a correct taxpayer identification number (TIN) for a dependent.

Level of Success:
HSLDA worked with House Leadership and Joint Tax Committee to resolve problem Have discussed the issue with various House staff.

We have identified approximately 100 families who are being denied deductions.

Status:
Expected to take up again next Congress

ACTION DELAYED TO NEXT YEAR.


Executive Order 13083

VICTORY

Description:
President Clinton’s Federalism Executive Order repealing President Reagan’s on federalism and listing nine “exceptions” to the 10th Amendment standard of federalism.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposed this new Executive Order which had the potential to greatly expand federal power. Several bills dropped to repeal.HSLDA signed a letter in opposition to this EO.

Level of Success:
Postponed indefinitely.

Status:
The White House has indicated that it will work with states to redraft.

SUCCESS


National ID Card

SUCCESS

Description:
Department of Transportation proposed regulations requiring states to use social security numbers for issuance of drivers’ licenses based on section 656 of the Illegal Immigration Reform Act of 1996.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA opposes the federal government developing any national id system because it violates principles of privacy.

Level of Success:
Several Congressmen and Senators attempted to repeal Section 656 from Illegal Immigration Reform Act in order to stop the Department of Transportation regulations from taking effect.

HSLDA provided comment to the DOT.

Status:
One year moratorium on implementation of the DoT regulations that would create the national ID cards has been included in the Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Agreement.

Passed the House Oct. 20, 1998 (333-95) and the Senate Oct. 21, 1998. Signed by the President Oct. 21, 1998.

SUCCESS


Copyright Distance Learning Issue contained in HR2281

The WIPO Treaties Implementation Act.

PENDING

Description:
Certain provisions of this bill may restrict the right of individuals to receive copyrighted material through the internet. This could effect home schoolers who learn at home.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA supports “fair use” provisions in copyright law to ensure that home schoolers may use computers to receive multimedia and other copyrighted works to the same extent that students in traditional classrooms will be able to receive them under proposed changes.

Level of Success:
Making our concerns known by proposing a home school exception to the copyright laws. Unsure of outcome at this point.

Status:
Passed both Houses.

Awaiting President’s signature

PENDING


Repeal Gun Free Schools Act

DELAYED

Description:
The bill, passed in the last Congress, was designed to prevent guns from entering public schools.HSLDA’s concern was that a strict reading of the law would also prevent home school families in many states from keeping weapons.

HSLDA Position:
HSLDA sought an exemption for home schools that prohibits firearms within 1000 feet of a “school.”

Level of Success:
Rep. Todd Tiahrt indicated his willingness to introduce a bill to specify that home schools are exempt from this law. Repeal the Kohl amendment (no. 5244) or add an exemption for “private schools operating in a home.” No action taken.

Status:
This issue may be revisited in the next Congress.

DELAYED



In addition HSLDA worked on the following issues:

Elimination of the Federal Role in Education.
Elimination of the IDEA funding prohibition for home schoolers.
Support computer privacy issues.
Support family tax relief through increasing the per child exemption.
Support passage of the American Sovereignty Amendment.
Opposed funding for the National Endowment for the Arts
Oppose the establishment of a vaccine database.

In addition to any carry over issues from above,HSLDA anticipates working on the following issues next year:

Religious Liberty Protection Act
Repeal Goals 2000
Repeal School-to-Work Opportunities Act
Marriage Penalty Elimination
Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization
Abolish Department of Education
American Sovereignty Amendment
Bill of Rights for the 21st Century

105th Congress Federal Report / October 21, 1998