June 28, 2007

Legislative Wrap-up—Special Education Bill Nearly Passes

The brightest hope for homeschool families to get fair and equal access to special education services, Senate Bill 116, came agonizingly close to enactment before time ran out in the legislature.

Scott Somerville, former attorney for Home School Legal Defense Association, gave the bill a powerful boost when he cleared up misconceptions as he testified in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. After the committee added a minor amendment making it crystal clear that only federal money would be spent on the program, committee members voted favorably on the bill by a comfortable margin.

The full Senate then voted unanimously in favor of the bill. As the bill passed to the House for action, however, time ran out. The session ended before the House Ways and Means Committee could finish its work.

We have asked the bill’s sponsor, Sen. James D. Brochin, to introduce the bill again in the coming session. We plan to work hard to finish the work we have begun. It is not uncommon for a bill to make several trips to the legislature before becoming law. The fact that this bill came so close to enactment in its first year is a testament to the work of many homeschool families who made calls to support it.

States all over the nation are letting citizens decide the vital issue of how “marriage” should be defined. However, Senate Bill 564, a bill to give Maryland voters the opportunity to amend the Maryland Constitution to define marriage, failed to even make it out of committee. Maryland citizens should demand the right to make this decision for themselves.

HSLDA opposed a number of bills that would have raised the age of compulsory school attendance. Homeschool families vigorously opposed these efforts to expand government control over young people. Thankfully, all of the bills failed to become law.

With the legislature closed, we can be grateful to God for protecting us from the bills that would have eroded liberty, and we can pray that next year will bring a legislative breakthrough for homeschool students who need special education services.

Thank you for your continued support of HSLDA that allows the ministry to continue. And thank you for all your efforts that made a difference in the legislature this year.