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February 22, 2011 Legislative Update

Legislative UpdateOutcome of Bills – Day at the Capitol Report

2011 Virginia Home Education Month

February 22, 2011

Greetings!

With the legislative session coming to a close this week, we know the final outcome of the bills we have been monitoring or lobbying for passage. Take a look below for details, including an update on Driver Education in Planning District 8–a change that will help driver education students and their parents in Northern Virginia.

Although snow was falling in some parts of Virginia, it was a brisk, sunny day in Richmond for HEAV’s Legislative Homeschool Day at the Capitol. Homeschooled students and their parents were able to visit their legislators, view live action in the General Assembly, be recognized in both the House and the Senate, and participate in an engaging historical interpretation of Patrick Henry’s famous speech!

Later, Governor McDonnell met with HEAV representatives for a proclamation signing ceremony in honor of Virginia Home Education Month.

Be sure to look below for DATC pictures and details!

I look forward to seeing many of you on March 18 for the Capitol Classroom Homeschool Day at the Capitol–another event filled with exciting learning activities!

With regards,

Yvonne Bunn, Homeschool Support

Yvonne Bunn

Director of Homeschool Support & Legislative Affairs

NOTE: View photos of HEAV’s Legislative Homeschool Day at the Capitol!

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LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP

With only one week left in this short legislative session, most of the bills we tracked and lobbied for have already passed or failed. Below is a summary of their status. Our bill reader, Caroline Barnes, read through thousands of bills, and these were the ones of particular interest to home educators. Thank you for all of your prayers throughout the legislative session!

Driver Education in Planning District 8

HB 2439, sponsored by Mark D. Sickles (D-Franconia) and introduced by VaHomeschoolers, will make available to private and homeschooled students and their parents in Planning District 8 the viewing of a 90-minute parent/student driver-education film required to obtain a driver’s license in Planning District 8 only. Although the law requires both parents and students to view a 90-minute film, some schools have not allowed homeschoolers to have access to the film.

During the House subcommittee hearing, HEAV’s lobbyist, Bob Shanks, gave testimony in support of the bill. He related a story of a homeschool parent who was referred by the Department of Education to HEAV for help. Shanks pointed out the negative impact the school’s refusal to allow access to the film had on a homeschooler seeking his driver’s license. Because the homeschooled student and his parent were not allowed to view the film at the local high school in their district at the scheduled time, the homeschooler could not get his driver’s license. This prevented him from beginning an EMT job for which he had already been hired. With supporting testimony from VaHomeschoolers and HEAV, the bill passed the House in a block vote and was reported from Senate Education and Health committee 15-Y, 0-N. PASSED

Immunization Exemptions for Home-Instructed Children

HB 2291, sponsored by Mark D. Sickles (D-Franconia), allows a licensed nurse practitioner, in addition to a licensed physician, to provide written certification that an immunization may be detrimental to a homeschool child’s health.

Passed both the House and Senate unanimously. PASSED

Repeal of the HPV Immunization

HB 1419, sponsored by Kathy J. Byron (R-Lynchburg), eliminates the requirement for the human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV) for female children.

Passed the House; passed by indefinitely in Senate Education and Health. FAILED

Tax Credits for Donations to Nonprofit Organizations Providing Scholarships

HB 2314, sponsored by James P. “Jimmie” Massie, III (R-Richmond), establishes a tax credit for corporations donating money to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to students who are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. The scholarship funds must be used for qualified students to attend non-public elementary or secondary schools. This does not include homeschools.

Passed the House; passed by indefinitely in SenateFinance. FAILED

SB 1194, sponsored by Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), is a companion bill to HB 2314, the tax credit bill described above.

Left in Senate Finance. FAILED

Educational Best Interests of a Child in a Court Dispute

SB 994, sponsored by Richard H. Stuart (R-Montross), provides that when a court has jurisdiction to resolve a dispute between parents as to how a child shall be educated, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interests to remain in the last educational setting to which both parents agreed.

Passed by indefinitely in Senate Courts of Justice. FAILED

Virginia State Virtual School

HB 2311, sponsored by Richard P. Bell (R-Staunton), establishes “Virginia State Virtual School” as a policy agency in the executive branch of government. Its purpose is to govern the online educational programs and services offered to students enrolled in the Virginia State Virtual School. HEAV carefully watched this bill and its progress in order to protect the rights of homeschoolers.

Stricken from the docket by House Education. FAILED

Sports Access

HB 2395, sponsored by Robert B. Bell (R-Charlottesville) allows non-public school students to participate in public school interscholastic programs. The House Education Committee voted to schedule a joint House-Senate study of sports access to be conducted this summer. The purpose of the study is to see how other states handle sports access.

Passed by with a letter in House Education. FAILED

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Delegate Glenn Oder addresses homeschoolers. GOVERNMENT THEN AND NOW

HEAV’s Legislative Homeschool Day at the Capitol began with greetings from HEAV’s executive director, George Lansing, who read Governor Bob McDonnell’s Certificate of Recognition proclaiming February 2011 Virginia Home Education Month. Homeschoolers responded with cheers and a big round of applause after the reading of the proclamation, initiated by HEAV. Lobbyist Bob Shank gave a review of the legislative session. He was followed by Delegate Glenn Oder (R-Newport News–shown in picture), who gave an engaging talk about legislation he was introducing to protect teens and strengthen families. TeenPact students ended the morning program with a fun skit that taught students “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”

Homeschoolers visit the Capitol grounds.

Parents and homeschoolers then headed to the Capitol to give their representatives folders that HEAV provided. The folders included a recent homeschool study, a copy of the 2011 Virginia Home Education Month proclamation, and information about HEAV’s upcoming convention.

After visiting their legislators‘ offices, homeschoolers had the opportunity to join in an outdoor School Choice Rally with Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson at the Capitol Bell Tower. This Family Foundation rally provided an opportunity for homeschoolers to participate in a grassroots gathering. Homeschooling families wore HEAV’s red “Homeschool’s Cool” stickers, indicating they supported homeschooling as a viable choice in education.

When the General Assembly convened at noon, homeschoolers were asked to stand and be recognized in the gallery of both Houses. From the Senate floor, Senator Steve Martin introduced all the homeschoolers seated in the Senate gallery. In the House of Delegates Chamber, Delegate Glenn Oder introduced the homeschoolers that filled the seats in the House gallery. Both legislators made very kind remarks about home education and announced that Governor McDonnell had declared February 2011 Virginia Home Education Month.

Asking questions after the Patrick Henry reenactment.After Capitol grounds scavenger hunts, tours, and lunch, families met at St. John’s Church–the actual location of Patrick Henry’s speech–for an unforgettable, historical interpretation of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” call to freedom from tyranny. Whether homeschoolers found themselves sitting beside Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or Patrick Henry, everyone became engaged in the fiery debate for liberty.

Governor McDonnellOur day ended with HEAV representatives and a homeschool family returning to the Patrick Henry Building to meet Governor McDonnell for the scheduled proclamation signing ceremony. The Governor graciously spent time talking with us prior to officially signing the proclamation. (You can view photos and more information on our Virginia Home Education Month page.)

It was a great ending to a very exciting day learning about both an important turning point in our government in the 18th century and our government today!

View photos of HEAV’s Legislative Homeschool Day at the Capitol!

Join us in March for Capitol Classroom Day at the Capitol!

Space is limited, so register now!

This report was written by the Home Educators Association of Virginia, a member-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, and supporting homeschooling freedoms in the Commonwealth. Feel free to reprint or pass along this report in its entirety.

Home Educators Association of Virginia


e-mail: update@heav.org

phone: 804-278-9200

web: http://www.heav.org

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