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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
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