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2/22/2008 3:40:28 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Update: Assessment Bill Makes Dramatic Comeback, Passes Committee

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Virginia--Update: Assessment Bill Makes Dramatic
Comeback, Passes Committee Unanimously

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Your calls made a huge difference! Yesterday the Senate Health and
Education Committee voted unanimously to send Delegate Scott
Lingamfelter's assessment bill to the full Senate!

But there was plenty of drama before that.

As I walked from office to office talking to senators and their
legislative aides on Wednesday, I heard constant comments on the
number of phone calls they were receiving on H.B. 1183. One assistant
showed me several pages of a notepad she had filled with the names of
people who had called. "Oh yes, we know about H.B. 1183!" I heard
many times.

Some senators commented to me that they thought it was a common sense
bill and had no objections to it. Many were impressed that not one
person had testified against the bill during the three previous public
hearings. However, others seemed to have objections or questions even
after I left their office. It was very difficult to tell what would
happen in committee.

As the hearing on the bill opened on Thursday morning, Delegate
Lingamfelter gave the committee an articulate and persuasive
explanation of the need for the bill. After the testimony in support
of the bill was over, the chairman asked for testimony against it. A
representative of the superintendent's association objected to the
part of the bill requiring them to consider portfolios. He said
reviewing the portfolios would take time and money they don't have.
It appeared that a number of senators were sympathetic to this
concern. It was clear that the bill would fail unless their concern
was addressed.

An amendment was offered removing the portfolio provision. To save
the bill, I consented to the amendment, as did representatives from
Home Education Association of Virginia and Organization of Virginia
Homeschoolers. The amendment was then adopted unanimously.

One senator seemed unhappy with the fact that parents have a choice at
all in what type of assessment to submit. He proposed an amendment
that would have taken away all parental choice and given the
superintendents alone the power to decide what type of assessment a
family would be required to submit! After a spirited discussion, his
amendment was defeated by a wide margin.

The committee then began to vote on whether or not to report the bill,
that is, send it to the full Senate for further action.

It looked like it was going to be a tie--which would have meant the
bill would have died. A supportive senator decided to vote "no" on
the bill so he would be able to ask that the vote be reconsidered
later.

When the votes were counted, the motion to report the bill failed to
pass. A motion was offered to "pass by" the bill until next week,
preserving the opportunity for the committee to consider the bill
again. The motion carried and the committee went on to discuss other
business.

A short time later, however, a supportive senator asked to reconsider
the vote to report H.B. 1183. In a dramatic turnaround, the committee
voted unanimously to report the bill to the full Senate!

Because the vote was unanimous, H.B. 1183 will probably be treated in
a "block" manner on the Senate floor, that is, packaged with other
bills that are considered not controversial and voted on as a group.
We are hopeful that the Senate will pass the bill with little or no
further debate.

Thank you for your phone calls that convinced the senators that this
bill should become law. And to God goes the glory, for truly He holds
the hearts of the rulers in His hands.

Sincerely,

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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