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3/15/2004 10:55:50 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Utah--End of Legislative Session - Some Progress Made

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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March 12, 2004


Utah--End of Legislative Session - Some Progress Made


Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Thank you for your efforts to improve Utah law this legislative
session. Families have gained some significant ground this season,
and there is hope to see even more improvements in Utah law next
year. I write to thank you for any calls you may have made, and to
encourage you to help us prepare for next year.

House Bill 90 has been passed by both houses of the Utah Legislature,
and should soon be signed by the governor. This bill permits parents
to invite friends and family to a juvenile court hearing on child
abuse or neglect. Before this bill was enacted, any person other
than the child, immediate family members, and government agents would
be excluded from court. Now, the court "shall admit any person to a
hearing...unless the court makes a finding upon the record that the
person's presence at the hearing would be detrimental to the best
interest of a child who is a party to the proceeding, impair the fact
finding process, or be otherwise contrary to the interest of
justice." For the first time ever, this means that the entire
homeschool community can show their support for a family in trouble.
I have been in juvenile court hearings where homeschoolers were
allowed in, and hearings where homeschoolers were excluded. I can
assure you that judges take our concerns much more seriously when 30,
60, or 100 pairs of eyes are watching the process.

Not every good bill made it through, however. Senate Bill 90, which
would have expressly recognized the presumption in favor of competent
parents to make medical decisions for their own children, was gutted
by the House of Representatives on March 3. The legislature wrapped
up all activity last week, leaving many pro-family bills unfinished.

The Legislature is remarkably open to improving state law to protect
parental rights, but Utah homeschoolers have yet to achieve many of
their pro-family goals. If you and your family would like to be more
involved in the legislative process next year, please contact HSLDA
to see how you can become more involved. If Utah homeschoolers work
together, Utah can have the best laws in the country!


Sincerely,

Scott Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney



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