VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report – January 26, 2012

by Amy Wilson, VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs

House Subcommittee Passes Sports Access and Curriculum Description Bills; Senate Curriculum Description Bill to Be Considered Next Week

Today was a busy day in the General Assembly for VaHomeschoolers’ Government Affairs team as well as Virginia’s homeschooling families.

Parrish Mort, VaHomeschoolers President; Amy Wilson, Director of Government Affairs; Leslie Nathaniel, Assistant Director of Government Affairs and our lobbyist Scott Price attended hearings on both the House and Senate sides of the General Assembly beginning at 7:30 AM. Five bills directly affecting homeschoolers were on dockets for today. Four bills were scheduled to be heard on the House side and one on the Senate side.

House Subcommittee Votes 6-2 to Pass Sports Access Bill

HB 947, patroned by Del. Robert Bell (R-Charlottesville), addresses public school sports and interscholastic activities access for homeschooled high school students. As expected, similar bills HB 905, patroned by Del. Randy Minchew (R-Leesburg), and HB 1005, patroned by Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding), were tabled in favor of HB 947 and their patrons joined Del. Bell as co-patrons of his bill. The House Education subcommittee on Students and Early Education amended HB 947 to include a sunset provision which would discontinue the provisions of the bill in June 2017 unless further action is taken. HB 947, as amended, passed the subcommittee by a vote of 6-2 and will now go before the full House Education Committee, probably on Monday, January 30, 2012.

VaHomeschoolers supports HB 947.

The Votes

Voting in favor of HB 947 were subcommittee chair Del. Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), as well as Delegates Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave), Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield), Joseph Yost (R-Blacksburg), and Joe Morrissey (D-Highland Springs).

Delegates Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk) and Mark Keam (D-Vienna) voted in opposition to the sports access bill.

Curriculum Description Bill Meets Unanimous Subcommittee Approval

The same House Education subcommittee also took up HB 1208, patroned by Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg), which would insert a phrase into the home instruction statute that would limit the required curriculum description to “a list of subjects to be studied” during the academic year. The purpose of this bill, which was crafted by the Home Educators Association of Virginia, is to reduce the growing confusion and discrepancies regarding the interpretation of the curriculum description requirement.

As VaHomeschoolers expected, this bill engendered very little discussion, as it is essentially a “housekeeping” bill for purposes of clarification, and does not, in our view, make a substantive change to the home instruction statute. HB 1208 was passed unanimously.

Senate Committee Did Not Consider Curriculum Description Bill

On the Senate side, SB 564, a companion bill to HB 1208, patroned by Sen. Dick Black (R-Leesburg), was on the docket for the Senate Education and Health Committee this morning. Because the committee had an especially long docket with some contentious issues, the bill was not heard.

VaHomeschoolers supports SB 564 and HB 1208.

What Happens Next

We anticipate that HB 947 (sports access) and HB 1208 (curriculum description) will both be on the docket for consideration by the full House Education committee at its next hearing this coming Monday, January 30, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

SB 564 (curriculum description) will likely be back on the agenda of the Senate Health and Education committee next Thursday, February 2 at 8:00 a.m.

In Favor of Homeschool Sports Access? We Need Your Help!

Del. Bell has asked that homeschoolers in favor of sports access do everything they can to attend the House Education Committee hearing on Monday. One of the primary arguments in favor of the bill is the benefit that it could extend to homeschooled students, so an audience full of families in favor of the bill will definitely make an impression on legislators. There may also be a little time for a few students to testify, though we expect testimony to be limited due to time constraints.

Contact Your Delegate

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 call or email him or her to express the reasons you support the bill.

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)

Contact information for Delegates can be found on the General Assembly’s website.

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.

January 30th Hearing Details

When: Monday, January 30, 2012, 9:00 a.m. (plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early to find seating)
Where: House Room C, General Assembly Building, 910 Bank Street, Richmond
What to do: Be part of a supportive audience demonstrating the sports access bill’s importance (you can also stay to hear the hearing for the curriculum description bill). There may be a limited opportunity for a few supporters to testify very briefly.

Please email VaHomeschoolers Director of Government Affairs if you plan to attend the hearing. That way we will be able to reach you with any important information (for example, if the bills are not on the docket for that day as we expect).

To Learn More

To read the full text of the bills:

Read our press release: Homeschool Sports Access Bill Passes Subcommittee: Goal in Sight for Virginia’s Homeschooled Students

Read about the background on this issue on our 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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