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12/3/2003 3:45:53 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New Jersey--2003 Legislative Wrap-Up

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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December 3, 2003

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

New Jersey's two-year legislative session is coming to an end. A new
biennium will begin in January. HSLDA tracked many bills, both good
and bad, but none made significant progress.

Threats to homeschool families included efforts to: expand the age of
compulsory attendance, authorize the imposition of daytime curfews,
and require all reports of abuse or neglect, no matter how flimsy, to
automatically go to the local police (in addition to the Division of
Youth and Family Services).

On the positive side, there was: an effort to increase access to
state scholarships, a bill to safeguard parental rights by declaring
them to be of fundamental importance, a bill that may have provided a
tax benefit, and a bill that would have restricted the power of
grandparents to demand visitation over the opposition of parents.

Looking ahead, only time will tell whether recent biased press
reports will influence lawmakers to launch a legislative attack on
homeschool families. If so, we will need the help of every New Jersey
homeschool family to protect the blessing of liberty.

A crucial juncture in the legislative process is when a bill comes up
for a hearing in a committee in the Senate or the House. Sometimes a
hearing is announced with as little as five days notice. Because of
this, HSLDA and other homeschool organizations may be asking
homeschool families to come to Trenton to help protect liberty on
short notice this coming year.

There are also encouraging developments. Although there were early
reports that lawmakers McKeon and Previte were considering
legislation hostile to homeschool families, an outpouring of phone
calls, letters and emails seems to have led them to reevaluate.

Recent events provided a catalyst for a number of state homeschool
organizations to work together. In 2000, it was the combined efforts
of several state organizations that helped produce the New Jersey
Department of Education's balanced homeschool policy statement. In
2004, it may take the cooperation of state organizations and the hard
work of thousands of families to defeat any emerging legislative
threats.

We expect the remainder of this "lame duck" session to conclude with
little fanfare. Next year could be a whole new ballgame, however.

Sincerely,


Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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