Thursday, December 15, 2005

VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report

VaHomeschoolers Legislative Report
December 14, 2005
by Celeste Land, Government Affairs

Special Report on Federal Legislation: Recruitment/Enlistment of
Homeschooled Students & HONDA 2005

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) is a statewide homeschooling organization which normally does not lobby on federal matters. However, we do occasionally visit Capitol Hill when federal legislation could impact homeschoolers in our state.

On Tuesday, December 13, VaHomeschoolers lobbyists Scott Price and Celeste Land visited Capitol Hill and met with House and Senate staffers to discuss Section 522 of HR 1815 (Recruitment and Enlistment of Home Schooled Students in the Armed Forces) and HR 3753 / S 1691 (also known as HONDA 2005). In keeping with the mission of our organization, our meetings focused mainly on the implications of these bills from a Virginia homeschooling perspective.

Section 522 of HR 1815 (Recruitment / Enlistment of Homeschooled Students)

VaHomeschoolers opposes Section 522 of HR 1815 because the language on
recruitment/enlistment is not necessary and would lead to greater regulation of

Virginia homeschoolers. [You can read more about our position at
_www.vahomeschoolers.org_ ( ]

While VaHomeschoolers was unable to confirm the exact status of the language in Section 522, we came away from our meetings with the sense that most legislators are blissfully unaware of the controversy within the homeschooling community surrounding this issue. Section 522 has many strong supporters on Capitol Hill, including HSLDA and possibly some influential Defense Department officials as well. This means that Section 522 is very likely to become law without further discussion.

The conference committee is wrapping up its work on HR 1815 and is expected to complete its deliberations any day now. This means that if you have concerns about Section 522, you need to contact your Congressman or Senator immediately.

HR 3753 / S 1691 (HONDA 2005)

VaHomeschoolers has specific concerns about certain language and phraseology in HR 3753 / S 1691 from a Virginia homeschooling perspective, and desires that these particular sections of the bill be amended or deleted as needed. (You can read more about our position at _www.vahomeschoolers.org_ ( .)

HR 3753 / S 1691 (also referred to as the Home School Non Discrimination Act of 2005 or HONDA 2005) is an omnibus bill which attempts to address many different issues at the federal level. Some homeschoolers support the bill in its entirety, some oppose the bill in its entirety, and some take issue with certain portions of the bill for various reasons. (To learn more, go to
( )

At first glance, the status of these bills appears questionable at best. The House version of the bill has been sent to a variety of different committees and subcommittees, any one of which could kill the entire bill. Meanwhile, the Senate version of the bill has been sent to the Finance Committee, a place where most bills die without much fanfare.

However, the issues and language of HR 3753 /S 1691 are likely to linger for quite some time to come. The original bills are largely promotional in nature. They publicize and call attention to the issues, and allow certain lawmakers to demonstrate their support for homeschooling through their sponsorship. Meanwhile, interested lawmakers can select the language for a specific issue in the original bill and quietly insert it into another bill which is more
likely to actually become law. This is a common practice in Congress and has already happened at least once with this legislation, when the
recruitment/enlistment language in S 1691 was used as the basis for the language in Section 522 of HR 1815.

Meanwhile, VaHomeschoolers has heard unconfirmed rumors that other language in HR 3753 regarding the Higher Education Act has been inserted into another bill on the Senate side. Clearly, homeschoolers who are interested in national legislative issues need to watch not only specific "homeschooling bills" in Congress, but also specific language from those bills, which may surface in surprising places at inopportune moments.

Recommended Action:

As always, VaHomeschoolers recommends that you read the full text of these bills carefully before taking any action. You can find the complete text of HR 1815 (Section 522), HR 3753, and S 1691 at _
( .
Contact your Congressman or Senator and let them know your views on this federal legislation. Contact information is available at
_ ( and
( .
Virginia Senator John Warner is a member of the
conference committee on HR 1815, and Virginia Congressmen Frank Wolf, Jo Ann Davis, and Virgil H. Goode Jr. are cosponsors of HR 3753. These individuals would be especially interested in hearing from their constituents.

Be specific when writing or calling your lawmakers. Tell them exactly
what you like or dislike about these bills, which issues specifically concern you, and what (if anything) needs to be changed or addressed. This will help Congress take the most appropriate action.


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