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7/11/2006 12:25:31 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New York--Legislative Update

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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July 11, 2006

New York--Legislative Update

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

The New York legislative session has ended but not without a flurry of
activity. Thank you for all of your calls over these past months on
bills that could have directly affected homeschool freedom or parental
rights.

While we were unable to pass any positive legislation this session,
several negative bills were defeated. Below is information on many of
the bills that Home School Legal Defense Association worked on this
year.

HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM BILL

HSLDA and LEAH have been working hard over the past several years to
reduce the current homeschool regulations. Senate Bill 3641, the
Homeschool Freedom Bill, would have eliminated the Individualized Home
Instruction Plan (IHIP) form, the quarterly reports, permit the
alternative written narrative evaluation every year, and lowered the
overall percentile required on a standardized achievement test to be
above the 23rd percentile.

While the Homeschool Freedom Bill did not pass, the State Education
Department has had several meetings with LEAH about reducing the
homeschool regulations and eliminating conflicts.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REFORMATION ACT

Late in this legislative session Assembly Bill 10870 was introduced to
provide greater protection for religious freedom and expression in New
York. HSLDA immediately contacted key legislative staff to coordinate
support for this bill.

HSLDA is very interested in getting a Religious Freedom Reformation
Act (RFRA) passed in New York so that it might be able to be used as a
"religious exemption" for homeschool families. We are already using
RFRA's in Florida and Pennsylvania that we helped pass. This
legislation has enabled families to claim a religious exemption from
their state homeschool law.

While this bill did not pass this year we will continue to work on
greater religious freedom in New York.

TAX CREDIT FOR EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES

Assembly Bill 8203 and Senate Bill 1939 were introduced this
legislative cycle and would have provided a tax credit for educational
expenses. Under these bills homeschool families would have been able
to claim educational expenses up to $3,500 per child depending on
their income.

While several hundred individuals and families attended a rally and
Governor Pataki strongly supported this legislation, it failed to pass
out of committee. HSLDA will continue to support similar tax credit
legislation in the future.

LOWERING COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE

Two bills were introduced this session in an attempt to lower the
compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5. Both bills would have gone into
effect for the 2009-2010 school year.

Assembly Bill 10297 would have enabled every school district in New
York to require 5-year-olds to attend kindergarten. Homeschool parents
would have had to file all of the required paperwork a year earlier
than they do now.

Assembly Bill 11915 would have made all-day kindergarten mandatory and
lowered the compulsory attendance age to 5 by December 31. While
parents could have elected not to send their 5-year-olds to school
they would have had to submit a notice of this exemption before April
1 of the year before their child was compulsory attendance age. This
would have required some parents to submit this notice for exemption
when their child was only 4 1/2 !

Both of these bills failed to pass after HSLDA sent out e-lerts and
you called.

DRIVER'S LICENSING RESTRICTIONS

Senate Bill 63 would have required all minors seeking to get a
driver's license in New York to prove that they were in good academic
standing. Homeschool families would have had to demonstrate to their
local DMV office that their child was enrolled in a valid school and
in good standing before their child could have gotten a driver's
license.

HSLDA monitored this bill closely but did ask for calls when it was
clear that this bill would not move.

STATEWIDE IMMUNIZATION REGISTRY

HSLDA alerted our members of our concerns about Senate Bill 8227
shortly after it was introduced late in the legislative session. This
bill creates a statewide immunization registry to store and track all
of the immunizations given to children from 19 and under. While
hundreds of members called, this bill was railroaded through both the
Senate and Assembly on June 23, the last day of the session.

Effective December 1, all health care providers will be required to
notify the immunization registry of every immunization given to any
children 19 and under along with certain additional information. The
bill was amended in an attempt to provide greater protection of the
information contained in the registry. However, information on
families claiming medical or religious exemptions to immunization will
also be kept in the registry.

Thank you for your part in answering the call for action on several of
these bills over the past few months. Without your vigilance many of
these negative bills would likely have passed.

If you are not yet a member of HSLDA and would like to help us fight
for greater parental rights and homeschool freedom in New York please
visit http://www.hslda.org/join/apply.asp .

Sincerely,

Thomas Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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