January 19, 2012
The 2012 legislative session is in full swing! Hundreds of bills are being presented, moving through committees, and being sent to the House or Senate for final votes.
Although HEAV has worked all year on legislative issues–meeting with the Department of Education, discussing concerns with key legislators, and presenting issues to the Governor’s policy staff–now is the most critical time. The events of the next few weeks could impact how we homeschool, and for this reason we are working diligently with the legislators at the General Assembly to protect your rights as homeschool parents.HEAV has initiated legislation that will correct the growing problem with curriculum descriptions. Some superintendents are requesting increasingly detailed information in order to meet the curriculum description requirement overstepping the requirements of the law. After several years of attempting to resolve this issue at the policy level, it is time to clarify it with an amendment to the homeschool statute.
Things move quickly during the General Assembly Session, but we’ll do our best to keep you informed about changing legislation. Bills are scheduled and expected to be heard in committee with only a 24-hour notice, so watch for future Legislative Updates in case immediate action is needed!
Meet our legislative team below and see several bills that can affect our homeschools.
Director of Homeschool Support & Legislative Affairs
MEET YOUR HEAV LEGISLATIVE TEAM
Veteran homeschool dad and businessman Bob Shanks of Richmond is representing our homeschool interests at the General Assembly during the 2012 session. Bob is an articulate speaker with experience in sales and marketing. He has been a licensed instructor at the Real Estate Academy teaching real estate law, regulations, and ethics; a speech teacher at Veritas Christian Academy; and has served as a TeenPact instructor. He and his wife, Kathryn, homeschooled their four now-adult children. Bob has found lobbying to be both interesting and challenging.
Caroline Barnes is a veteran homeschool mom and political activist. She continues to faithfully serve as HEAV’s bill researcher. This former HEAV board member received The Family Foundation’s Tidewater Citizen of the Year Award, ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, and later became Chairwoman of the Portsmouth Republican Party. Caroline is a retired Navy Nurse Corps Commander. In 2000, she was elected to the Portsmouth School Board. Her sharp eye and humorous comments get us through the monotony of reading thousands of bills.
HEAV president Anne Miller assists in analyzing proposed legislation. Her valuable experience contributes to good legislative decisions. Anne and I (Yvonne Bunn) have worked together for 22 years and will continue to discuss strategy and track the progress of bills with our legislative team.
LEGISLATION TO WATCH
HEAV is keeping a careful eye on bills as they are introduced and debated. We are tracking legislation regarding virtual schools, virtual classes, charter schools, employment certificates, scholarship tax credits, HPV immunizations, driver’s license changes, and cell phone usage.
The following bills could directly affect homeschoolers:
HEAV asked Senator Dick Black (R-Loudoun/Prince William) and Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-James City/York County) to sponsor legislation for HEAV that will limit the required curriculum description to “a list of subjects.” HEAV had an increased number of calls this year from concerned parents who submitted the same type of curriculum description they submitted in past years, only to have it rejected this year. For several years, HEAV and other homeschool organizations have attempted to solve this problem at the policy level with the Virginia Department of Education. We regret that changes have not been made. HEAV’s proposed change will clarify the requirement for a curriculum description and bring a consistent application of the law to all school districts.
Delegate Rob Bell presents sports access legislation.
Delegate Rob Bell’s (R-Charlottesville) 2011 sports access bill failed to gain a recommendation after three special committee meetings that included many hours of testimony from Delegate Bell and supportive homeschool parents and students. This year, Delegate Bell has introduced another bill allowing homeschoolers to participate in public school interscholastic sports. Delegates David Ramadan (R-Loudoun/Prince William) and Randy Minchew (R-Clark/Frederick/Loudoun) have also introduced sports access legislation. We expect their bills to be rolled into Delegate Bell’s bill (HB 947).
If you support sports access for homeschoolers, be prepared to act. This could be the year it will pass! Watch for future Legislative Updates with information about upcoming Education Committee hearings. I expect the bill will be heard within the next week. As with all legislation, committee agendas are published approximately 24 hours prior to the committee meetings. As soon as we know the bill will be heard in committee, we will get the word out. There will be several opportunities to attend committee hearings. Your show of support at the hearings will make a big difference in the bill’s success. HB 947, HB 1005, HB 905
There are numerous drivers’ license bills–from getting a license to using a cell phone while driving. One bill, sponsored by Delegate D.W. Marshall (R-Henry/Pittsylvania/Danville), requires a high school diploma or GED for driver’s license applicants less than 21 years of age. The bill fails to include homeschool graduates. In order to correct this oversight, HEAV has suggested the delegate add language that includes a homeschool diploma. After talking with Delegate Marshall, our lobbyist now reports that he plans to withdraw this legislation. HB 560
Delegate David Ramadan (R-Loudoun/Prince William) has introduced legislation giving homeschooling parents a tax credit up to $1,000 for homeschool materials and supplies used solely in home instruction. This includes textbooks, workbooks, correspondence courses, or distance-learning programs purchased in the taxable year. HB 1006
Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Norfolk/Virginia Beach) has introduced legislation that will change the age requirement for a work permit from age 16 to age 18. He proposes that no child under the age of 18 years can be employed without a permit unless the student has been issued a standard, advanced, or general achievement diploma. His bill fails to mention a homeschool diploma. HEAV offered language to remedy this omission. HB 641
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HOW YOU CAN PARTNER WITH US DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION
- Subscribe, read, and pass on HEAV Legislative Update e-newsletters–send them to your support groups and e-groups and post them on your blogs. We will keep you up-to-date on legislative issues as they develop. Join our e-mail list, and encourage others in your support group to sign up for these FREE Legislative Updates.
- Pray for our legislative team.
- Support the work of HEAV through membership, and financial contributions. Because of your support, HEAV has had a presence at the General Assembly and with the Department of Education for the last 29 years. Every year, we’ve worked with legislators, monitored bills, and have been a voice for homeschooling in Richmond and the Commonwealth. With your help and support, we look forward to continuing this important work.
WAYS TO STAY INFORMED!
Lobbyist in a Box
The Virginia General Assembly has given citizens the ability to track up to five bills with the FREE bill tracking software Lobbyist in a Box. (See the Quick Links on the right-hand side of the page.) It’s user-friendly and greatly simplifies bill tracking!
For a website with lots of interesting information and the capability to track many bills easily, visit Richmond Sunlight. This will keep you informed and can be a great tool for a state government course.
House and Senate Offer Live Video of 2010 Session
The House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia offer live streaming video of the 2012 legislative session, broadcasting from each chamber every day of the session. Click here to choose the chamber you would like to view.
Bill Information FAQ
If you have questions about the legislative process, or need to learn how to navigate the General Assembly website, you can find help at the General Assembly FAQ.
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Remember, lobbying means letting our elected officials know our opinions. Let’s make sure we take the time to tell them what we think! Above all, please remember to lift up our legislators, the proposed bills, and the HEAV legislative team in your prayers.
We are here to help you understand the legislative process and answer your questions. We value your input on all homeschooling issues. Please contact us with your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Your support of HEAV at this time would be greatly appreciated.