May 10, 2011

Three Bad Bills Defeated

During the 2011 session of the Montana Legislature, Home School Legal Defense Association worked closely with the Montana Coalition of Home Educators to bring about the defeat of three bills that threatened the freedom of homeschoolers.

Senate Bill 44: This bill would have increased the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18, graduation from high school, or receipt of a GED as the time when a student was permitted to leave school. Parents would have been locked into another two years of homeschooling at a time when the child may have wished to pursue other educational options or begin a vocation.

House Bill 215: This legislative proposal would have prohibited anyone under 18 years old from obtaining or keeping a driver’s license unless the person was enrolled in school or had received a high school diploma or GED. The current compulsory attendance age in Montana is from 7 to 16 or completion of the 8th grade, whichever is later. House Bill 215 was a driver’s license bill that attempted to meddle with the education law of the state. It was nothing more than a back-door effort to increase the compulsory school attendance age.

House Bill 247: This bill would have changed existing law so that a child over the age of 12 and under the age of 19 could not be claimed as a dependent on a state income tax return unless the child was enrolled in school or had received a high school diploma or GED. Simply put, this bill was an attempt by state lawmakers to define a “dependent” by school attendance. Like House Bill 215, this bill was an indirect effort to increase the compulsory school attendance age. Additionally, it would have financially penalized families whose children did not meet the new educational definition of “dependent.”

Many thanks to the homeschoolers of Montana who responded to appeals to contact their state legislators and express their opposition to these bad bills. There is no question that this grassroots lobbying was directly responsible for bringing about a defeat of this unfavorable legislation.