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7/6/2007 3:36:09 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Montana: Legislative Wrap-Up

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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July 5, 2007

Montana--Legislative Wrap-Up

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

The Montana State Legislature adjourned for the year on April 27,
2007. HSLDA tracked a number of bills during the 2007 session that, if
passed, would have affected the rights of parents who educate their
children at home.

On February 23, 2007, the Montana Senate dealt a final death blow to a
legislative proposal which would have required homeschoolers to
register with the county superintendent and imposed an unreasonable
deadline for doing so. Senate Bill 458, sponsored by Senator Don Ryan,
chairman of the Senate Education Committee, had already received an
unfavorable vote when the committee considered the bill four days
earlier. Senator Ryan attempted to get the full Senate to override the
committee's decision to table the bill, but an overwhelming majority
of the senators voted against his proposal.

Parents in Montana were particularly concerned about the implications
of registering with the county superintendent instead of simply
notifying the superintendent of their children's enrollment in their
homeschool. By registering their students with the county
superintendent, they arguably would have become enrolled in the school
district as public school students. This would have created
inequitable funding to the local school district and more state
control over homeschooling. The bill also sought to impose a deadline
for registration at least seven days before the beginning of the
school district's fiscal year on July 1. This meant that families
would have had to register their children by June 23 of each year.
Presumably, county superintendents could have denied any family the
right to homeschool if they missed the deadline.

This legislative victory is attributable in great measure to lobbying
efforts of homeschooling families who called and emailed their
senators about this bill and attended the hearing conducted by the
Senate Education Committee. Special recognition goes to the Montana
Coalition of Home Educators for organizing the demonstration at the
Capitol and testimony before the committee.

House Bill 651, if passed, would have raised the compulsory attendance
age from 16 or completion of the eighth grade to age 17 or graduation
from high school. Fortunately, this piece of legislation missed the
bill transmittal deadline and died in committee.

Other measures HSLDA supported were House Bills 312 and 404. House
Bill 312 would have created an amendment to the state constitution
expressly recognizing parental rights. House Bill 404, introduced by
House Education Committee Chairman Rick Johr, would have eliminated
the compulsory attendance law of Montana. Neither measure passed.

We are grateful for your vigilance and involvement to support parental
rights in Montana and keep your ability to homeschool your children
free from unreasonable governmental interference.

For more information regarding legislation affecting your right to
homeschool in Montana, please visit our web site at
http://www.hslda.org/MT

Sincerely,

Dewitt T. Black, III
Senior Counsel

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