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2/26/2008 11:45:33 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Two Homeschool Bills Pass Senate Unanimously

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Virginia-- Two Homeschool Bills Pass Senate Unanimously

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Yesterday the full Senate acted on two bills of importance to
homeschool families.

TWO NEW ASSESSMENT OPTIONS

H.B. 1183. This bill was filed by Del. Scott Lingamfelter at HSLDA's
request. After clearing the House comfortably, this excellent bill
appeared to be in trouble when the Senate subcommittee refused to
approve it.

Homeschoolers prepared for the full Senate committee with a sense of
urgency, redoubling their efforts. Home Educators Association of
Virginia and Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers made major
contributions. The efforts paid off. The Senate Health and Education
Committee approved the bill unanimously February 21. And yesterday
the full Senate approved the bill unanimously!

Because the House and Senate passed slightly different versions, we
expect the bill to go to a conference committee. We do not expect
this to be problematic, however. The bill as currently written will
open the way for families to submit two additional kinds of year-end
assessments, confident that they will not be rejected merely because
of the format: 1) an evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach
in any state, or a person with a master's degree in an academic field,
and 2) a report card or transcript from a correspondence program,
college, or community college.

HOMESCHOOL "OPTION" REVISION

H.B. 767. Delegate Robert Tata's bill cleared the House by a wide
margin and cleared the Senate Health and Education Committee
unanimously on Feb. 21. The full Senate approved the bill unanimously
yesterday. Since the House and Senate passed identical versions, the
bill should head for the governor's desk for his signature soon. This
bill makes some relatively minor changes to what a family is required
to show when filing their notice of intent.

This bill was drafted by the Department of Education, with comments by
HSLDA and the other state homeschool organizations. While this bill
was designed to streamline the Department of Education's
administrative responsibilities and won't affect most families, to the
extent that it has an effect, it will be positive.

TAX CREDITS

H.B. 1164. Sponsored by Del. Chris Saxman, this bill passed the full
House on a 50-48 vote February 12. It must receive favorable
treatment in Senate committee soon to continue forward. This bill
would create a tuition scholarship-tax credit program that would help
many students, including homeschoolers. A similar law was enacted in
Arizona several years ago and has been operating smoothly. The House
amended the bill so that the credits would not actually be allowed
until Virginia teacher salaries reach the national average and until
Virginia "attains the standards of learning" for public schools.

PARENT-TAUGHT DRIVER'S ED

H.B. 1540. This bill would have transferred the responsibility for
all driver's ed programs to the Department of Motor Vehicles--and
inadvertently repealed all provisions allowing homeschool parents to
teach driver's ed to their own children. We contacted the bill's
sponsor, who immediately recognized our concerns. He has withdrawn
the bill.

LEARNER'S PERMIT--ATTENDANCE RED TAPE

H.B. 438. HSLDA called the office of the sponsor, Del. J.H. Miller,
and explained that this was a bad bill because it manipulated
learner's permits to try to improve school attendance, and could lead
to a dramatic increase in red tape for homeschool families. On
February 7 the House Transportation Subcommittee No. 3 vote to
"continue" the bill until next year, effectively ending the threat
this year.

TAX CREDITS

H.B. 420. Delegate Robert G. Marshall sponsored this bill that would
have provided welcome tax relief for families who incur out-of-pocket
expenses for educating their children by homeschool, private school or
public school. Unfortunately, the House Finance Committee did not
approve of the bill and it is effectively dead.

HPV VACCINATIONS

H.B. 188. Delegate Robert G. Marshall filed this sensible bill that
would have postponed mandatory human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations
until their safety and efficacy could be studied further. The bill
passed the House by a comfortable margin, but unfortunately, the
Senate Health and Education Committee voted to "pass by indefinitely,"
effectively killing the bill.

SOCIAL WORKERS FILING LAWSUITS AGAINST PARENTS

H.B. 1382 (and S.B. 788). H.B. 1382, allowing social workers to file
support enforcement lawsuits, has passed both houses and will be sent
to the governor for signature soon. As originally drafted, the bill
gave nearly unlimited power to social workers to file lawsuits, which
would have led to a dramatic increase in the violation of
constitutional rights. But thanks in part to homeschoolers placing
many phone calls, amendments removing all social worker power to file
lawsuits except in cases of support enforcement were incorporated into
the bill.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom.

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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