VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – January 24, 2012

by Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs

Your Help Needed – Sports Access Bills

This year’s crop of homeschool sports access bills is about to be tested for the first time in the Virginia General Assembly, and The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers needs your help.

This Year’s Bills

Homeschool sports access has been a perennial topic in the General Assembly. The first bills on the subject were introduced in 2005; the issue returned in 2008, 2010 and 2011. This year, VaHomeschoolers is optimistic that under the strong patronage of Del. Robert Bell (R-Charlottesville), who has sponsored a bill on this issue twice before and who has recently announced his bid for the Virginia Attorney General’s seat, we may see progress.

Three bills on homeschool sports and activities access have been introduced and sent to the House Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Students and Early Education. The subcommittee will meet on Thursday, January 26, and we expect to see the three bills folded into a single bill, with the remaining bill likely to be Del. Bell’s HB 947. The other two bills are HB 905 and HB 1005, sponsored by Del. Randy Minchew (R-Leesburg) and Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding).

How You Can Help Part 1: Attend and Show Your Support on Jan. 26

Del. Bell has asked that as many homeschooling families as possible attend this Thursday’s subcommittee hearing to show their support for the bill. There is no need to testify, but we’d like to see homeschooling families filling the seats so the delegates know this is important to our community. The hearing begins very early — at 7:30 a.m. — so we know this will be difficult, but your presence can make a difference, so please consider attending. Details are listed below.

How You Can Help Part 2: Looking for Students to Testify on Jan. 30

VaHomeschoolers’ Government Affairs team is hopeful that we may have the votes for HB 947 to pass out of the subcommittee and on to the full House Education Committee. If that happens, it could be taken up by the Education Committee as soon as next Monday, January 30.

We would like to ask for homeschooling families whose students might benefit from this bill to please consider attending the full committee hearing and making a very brief statement explaining how this bill could benefit your child, if time is given for public comment. Hearing from students themselves about why this issue is important could be particularly effective in swaying the viewpoints of legislators.

We understand that the idea of making a public statement can be intimidating. VaHomeschoolers’ Director of Government Affairs, Amy Wilson, would be happy to speak with you personally and offer tips on how to draft a very brief (1-3 minute) statement. You can email her at VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs

How You Can Help Part 3: Send a Letter

If you would like to express your opinion but are not able to attend the hearing, there are other options.

If your delegate is one of those on the Education Committee, it would be particularly helpful if you were to send a personal letter expressing the reasons you support the bill (a handwritten letter is much more effective than an email). Your letter needs to arrive by the end of this week, so please send it today. A brief note of support that explains why this bill matters to you is all that is needed.

The members of the committee are:

  • Del. Bob Tata (R-Virginia Beach) — Chair
  • Del. Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave) — Vice Chair
  • Del. Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk)
  • Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton)
  • Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax)
  • Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg)
  • Del. Mark Dudenhefer (R-Stafford)
  • Del. Tag Greason (R-Potomac Falls)
  • Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna)
  • Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Oak Hill)
  • Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge)
  • Del. Jimmie Massie (R-Richmond)
  • Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond)
  • Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Highland Springs)
  • Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg)
  • Del. Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield)
  • Del. Tom Rust (R-Herndon)
  • Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach)
  • Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-Jarratt)
  • Del. Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke)
  • Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News)
  • Del. Joseph Yost (R-Blacksburg)

If you aren’t sure who your delegate is, you can find out using the Who’s My Legislator page on the General Assembly website.

If there is no time for a handwritten letter, a phone call or email is still a great contribution to make. Learn more about contacting your delegate with the General Assembly’s Citizen’s Guide.

How You Can Help Part 4: Show Your Support

Another way to support this bill is to visit the website Richmond Sunlight, which focuses on bills in the General Assembly, and make a comment or place your vote on the page for HB 947.

Hearing Details

Please email VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs if you plan to attend either hearing. That way we will be able to reach you with any important information.

Subcommittee Hearing:
When: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 7:30 a.m. (plan to arrive no later than 7:15)
Where: 5th Floor East, General Assembly Building, 910 Bank Street, Richmond
What to do: Bring friends and well-behaved students and be part of a supportive audience

Full Committee Hearing:
When: Monday, January 30, 2012, 9 a.m. (we will plan to arrive early to coordinate speakers)
Where: House Room C, General Assembly Building, 910 Bank Street, Richmond
What to do: If possible, encourage your homeschooled teen to make a brief statement. Simply being there is also helpful.

To Learn More

To read the full text of the bills:

Read more about homeschool sports access on VaHomeschoolers’ website: Homeschoolers and Public School Sports Teams

Contact VaHomeschoolers

If you have any questions or concerns about this legislation, or any other legislative issue, please contact Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs.

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The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.

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