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Date:
From:
Subject:

2/19/2013 10:48:09 AM
Tj Schmidt--HSLDA
Please Act Now! Third-Party Visitation Bill Could be Voted on Today

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Please Act Now! Third-Party Visitation Bill Could be Voted on Today.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

In a surprise move, the main sponsor of the third-party visitation
bill in Washington has introduced a second bill, House Bill 1934,
today. This bill is identical to House Bill 1506. House Bill 1934
would allow any person who is not the parent of a particular child to
petition for visitation with the child if they had "established an
ongoing and substantial relationship with the child." Under this bill
a person could even petition the court where the family is an intact
two-parent home.

We have learned that House Bill 1934 is scheduled for a vote today in
the Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. It is vital that you contact as
many members listed below and let them know you are opposed to this
bill.

House Bill 1934 states that persons can demonstrate they have
established an "ongoing and substantial relationship" when they have
had a relationship with a child of "substantial continuity for at
least one year through interaction, companionship, and mutuality,
without expectation of financial compensation." Mutuality is simply
shared sentiments.

This bill will cause intact families, including perfectly fit parents,
to face potential court challenges to their parenting decisions
whenever they limit or restrict their child's visitation to any
person. While the bill provides some minimal protections of parents'
decision making, the parent will still have to defend any petition for
visitation right, no matter how outrageous.

The other third-party visitation bill, House Bill 1506, was heard in
the House Judiciary Committee on February 6 and had been scheduled for
a vote on February 12. However, your calls delayed the vote on that
bill. While House Bill 1934 is identical to House Bill 1506, the new
bill has 57 sponsors compared with 16 sponsors of the first bill. We
still believe this bill would be bad for Washington families and can
be stopped. Please contact all of the legislators below and oppose
this bill.

ACTION REQUESTED:

1) Please call and email the House Judiciary Committee members listed
below and give them this message in your own words:

"Please oppose House Bill 1934. This bill interferes with parents'
fundamental right to direct the care, custody, and control of their
children. No parents should have their decision on who visits their
child challenged in court. Allowing any person who has formed a
relationship with the child and family to be able to petition the
court for visitation rights is outrageous.

Additionally, this bill would allow courts to determine visitation
even in situations where the family is still intact, jeopardizing
family integrity. Please vote against House Bill 1934 and ensure that
it is defeated."

You do not need to identify yourself as a homeschooler; instead you
can identify yourself as a concerned parent and taxpayer. Please let
the legislator know if you are in his or her district.

House Judiciary Committee Members

Rep. Jamie Pedersen- Chair (D)
(Primary Sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7826
Email: Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Drew Hanson- Vice Chair (D)
(Sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7842
Email: Drew.Hansen@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Jay Rodne (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7852
Email: Jay.Rodne@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Steve O'Ban (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7890
Email: Steve.O'ban@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Roger Goodman - (D)
(sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7878
Email: Roger.Goodman@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Mike Hope (R)
(sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360)786-7692
Email: Mike.Hope@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D)
(sponsor of 1934 and HB 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7930
Email: Laurie.Jinkins@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Steve Kirby (D)
Phone: (360) 786-7996
Email: Steve.Kirby@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Brad Klippert (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7882
Email: Brad.Klippert@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Terry Nealey (R)
(sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7828
Email: Terry.Nealey@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Tina Orwall (D)
(sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7834
Email: Tina.Orwall@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Mary Helen Roberts (D)
(sponsor of HB 1934 and 1506)
Phone: (360) 786-7950
Email: MaryHelen.Roberts@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Matt Shea (R)
Phone: (360) 786-7984
Email: Matt.Shea@leg.wa.gov

BACKGROUND:

Over the years, HSLDA has represented member families in conflict with
grandparents and other relatives who did not like homeschooling. These
relatives would occasionally try to stop the homeschooling through
various means, including turning the family over to child welfare
services. Thankfully, most grandparents we come in contact with at
HSLDA support homeschooling and in some situations even participate in
the teaching.

However, House Bill 1934 would allow any third party to sue the parent
for visitation rights. If this bill becomes law, a person could
petition the court for visitation rights when both parents are
together and not only when there is a pending dissolution, legal
separation, or modification of a parenting plan proceeding.

On the surface this bill appears to protect parents' rights by
acknowledging that the decision of a fit parent is presumed to be in
the child's best interest. Under House Bill 1934, the person filing a
petition for visitation rights only has to allege that he or she had a
sufficient relationship with the child before "interference" by the
parent and that the child would likely suffer harm or the substantial
risk of harm if visitation is not granted. A court then would hold a
hearing if it finds it is more likely than not that visitation will be
granted.

In addition, House Bill 1934 does have a presumption that "a fit
parent's decision to deny visitation is in the best interest of the
child and does not create a likelihood of harm or substantial risk of
harm to the child." However, this presumption can be overcome by the
petitioner by clear and convincing evidence that the child would
likely suffer harm or the substantial risk of harm if visitation is
not granted.

In Troxel v. Granville the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the prior
visitation statute in Washington because the fundamental right of the
parent to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of
the children was violated. Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion,
stated that the standard of review to apply in this situation would be
the strict scrutiny standard. This standard requires the law or policy
enacted to be justified by a compelling governmental interest, that it
be narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest, and that it be
the least restrictive means for achieving that interest. We do not
believe House Bill 1934 does this.

Ever since 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington's
visitation statute in Troxel v. Granville, the legislature has
attempted to pass another visitation statute. Up to now all have
failed because they don't adequately protect the right of parents to
make decisions on behalf of their children. Please contact the members
listed above now to oppose House Bill 1934!

The only difference between House Bill 1934 and House Bill 1506 is
that the legislative summary is different. We have reason to believe
that this was done to prevent an amendment striking the whole bill.
The number of sponsors also indicates that Rep. Pedersen is
aggressively trying to get this bill passed.

We greatly value you and your support--it is a privilege to serve you!
If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider
taking a moment today to join or recommend us and support our work
defending individual families threatened by government officials and
protecting homeschooling freedom for all? Join now:
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=17133

If you would like to be put on our free email list to receive vital
e-lerts you may sign up at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=17134 .

Thank you for your part in fighting for freedom in Washington!

Sincerely,

Thomas J. (Tj) Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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