Legislative Update – February 8, 2013

HB 1442 Senate Committee Hearing
Thursday, 2/14 at 8 a.m.
Your Support Is Needed

Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) has told VaHomeschoolers that HB 1442, his homeschool sports access bill (which the media has nicknamed a “Tebow Bill”), is scheduled for debate in the Senate Education and Health Committee on Thursday, February 14 at 8:00 a.m.

This is the same committee that killed last year’s sports access bill by a single vote, and Del. Bell is working to find that vote by Thursday. If you have not yet called or emailed your senator to express support for HB 1442, now is the time to take action. Please encourage neighbors, friends, and family in Virginia to do so as well.

Local Option

We hope that the “local option” included in this year’s bill, which clearly states that local school board policy would govern homeschool participation, will allow legislators who opposed it last year to support it this year. This is a good point to make in your communication with your senator: a YES vote won’t mandate homeschool participation for school divisions in your district, but it will allow school divisions elsewhere in the state a choice if they’d like to allow it.

Field Trip

Senators who are on the fence about this bill may be influenced by seeing how many Virginia citizens want them to vote yes. If you would like to see homeschool sports access become a reality in Virginia – for your own children, for other homeschoolers you know, or simply because you think it’s the right thing to do – your presence at the hearing could make a difference.

Speaking Out

Our legislators want to hear what students have to say, since students are the ones who are directly affected. (Last year, those opposed to the bill brought a school bus of public school athletes to testify against it.) If your child would like to testify in support of the bill, encourage him or her to prepare a very brief (2 or 3 sentences) statement to read about how this issue affects him or her personally. Time for testimony will be very limited, and we’d like as many homeschooled students as possible to have a chance to speak.  Please email VaHomeschoolers if your child might like to testify.  We are happy to help with speaking tips, and this will also help us organize student-speakers on the day of the hearing.

Hearing Details

WHEN:  Thursday, 2/14, at 8 a.m. (please arrive early to find a seat)
WHERE:  Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building, on the corner of 9th and Broad Streets in Richmond. There are two parking garages nearby along North 8th Street, between East Grace Street and East Franklin Street.
WHO: Homeschoolers and others who support sports access
WHY:  So HB 1442 can reach the Senate floor

Listed below are the committee members. If any of these is your senator, it is especially important that you contact him or her before Thursday to express your support for HB 1442. (If your senator is not on the committee, it’s still a good idea to contact him or her.)

Voted NO in 2012

Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria)
Sen. Harry Blevins (R-Chesapeake)
Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston)
Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton)
Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)
Sen. John Miller (D-Newport News)
Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk)
Sen. Richard Saslaw (D-Springfield)

Voted YES in 2012

(Chairman) Sen. Stephen Martin (R-Chesterfield)
Sen. Richard Black (R-Leesburg)
Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson)
Sen. Thomas Garrett (R-Lynchburg)
Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach)
Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Forest)
Sen. Ralph Smith (R-Roanoke)


Other Bills VaHomeschoolers is Watching

Sports access isn’t the only issue VaHomeschoolers is keeping an eye on in the 2013 General Assembly, though it is the one that has generated the most debate and discussion state-wide. We have been watching more than two dozen other bills on topics that are tangentially related to homeschooling, to ensure that they don’t impact our homeschooling freedoms in any way.

Home Education Month

Sen. Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield) has patroned a bill to establish February 2013, and every February thereafter, as Home Education Month in Virginia. This bill is a Senate Joint Resolution (SJ 357), which means that it does not affect Virginia law, but expresses the sentiment of the legislature – it simply recognizes and honors homeschoolers. SJ 357 passed in the Senate and is expected to do the same in the House of Delegates. VaHomeschoolers encourages you to read the positive statements about home education contained in this bill!

Parental Rights

Two companion bills that seek to establish parental rights as “fundamental” rights in Virginia law have been passed by their bodies of origin (one in the House and one in the Senate) and “crossed over” for consideration in the opposite body. These are HB 1642 (Del. Brenda Pogge, R-Williamsburg) and SB 908 (Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania). These bills do not address homeschooling specifically, but VaHomeschoolers has been monitoring them carefully because the issue of parental rights is tangentially related to homeschooling freedoms.

Various Education Bills

A number of education bills in both the House of Delegates and the Senate touch on, but do not amend, sections of law that relate to homeschooling, such as the code that establishes part-time enrollment, driver education rules for homeschoolers, and the home instruction statute itself. Others address related topics such as virtual and charter schools. We are watching these bills carefully, in case any unfavorable amendments should be added in debate – if that happened, VaHomeschoolers would immediately step in to challenge those amendments.

To Learn More

Visit our website to learn more about VaHomeschoolers work to protect homeschooling freedoms in Virginia. We also have a comprehensive new page with information about homeschool sports access!

Contact VaHomeschoolers

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

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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