2021 Legislation Update - HB 349 and SB 86
FHE is aware that there are many new families homeschooling this year because of the challenges of the Covid restrictions. Since this is a new experience, many may not be aware of the past struggles to secure our homeschool freedoms in Missouri. Homeschooling was “legal”, but the law was “vague”. In 1986 the current “homeschool law” was passed only after a class action lawsuit when a judge transferred the responsibility to the legislature to enact a new statute. The new statute was passed on May 15, 1986, the last day of the session.
We must continue to be vigilant in protecting our homeschool freedoms. You, as member families, play an important part. Here are a few things you can do as part of the “team” to protect our freedoms. Being an FHE member helps with our influence at the legislature. Encourage other homeschool families to be members. The number of members FHE represents makes a difference to the legislators. Get to know your representative and senator. Then if you need to make a call or write an email, your representative and senator will already be familiar with you and your family. This can make an impact when contacting them. Then, be willing to make that call or write the email when FHE alerts you to an issue.
Since the Covid restrictions limited the 2020 Session, the 2021 Session was packed with legislation. Between the House and the Senate there were over 2000 bills introduced. Out of the 2000 bills only about 70 actually passed the legislature.
Several “school choice” bills were introduced. This meant many hours were spent listening to the House and Senate Education hearings and the House and Senate floor debate. The school choice bills were aimed at giving public school students a choice for enrolling in public, charter, private, or homeschool. Since several of the bills included “Home School” as one of the choices, FHE wanted to make sure none of the bills would lead to a loss of freedom for home school families in the future.
There was some interest expressed, especially by new homeschooling families, in HB 349, which establishes the “Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts”. Just so there is no misunderstanding, HB 349 is NOT a homeschool bill. It is a school choice bill particularly designed to provide school choice to public school students.
If a student chooses to apply for the “scholarship” and use the “home school” option, they will be required to comply with the rules of the scholarship as well and the “homeschool law”. One example will be the requirement for the student to take standardized tests to help determine the success of the program. “Free” money always has strings attached.
FHE will continue to oppose any kind of mandatory testing as a requirement to homeschool in the state of Missouri. FHE’s goal is to protect the inalienable right of parents to teach their own children without state regulation and control. We oppose any further restrictions on our freedoms than are already in the statutes.
For a better understanding of HB 349, the following is a quick summary of the requirements laid out as FHE understands them to be:
The scholarships will be funded by private individuals or businesses that will receive a tax credit for their donation. There is a cap on the amount of the donation and a limit on total allowable tax credits. Educational Assistance Organizations will be set up to oversee and distribute the scholarships.
A “qualified student” must “be a resident of Missouri and reside in any county with a charter form of government or any city with at least thirty thousand inhabitants”.
The student must also have an approved ““individualized education plan”(IEP) developed under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et seq.,” or be “a member of a household whose total annual income does not exceed an amount equal to two hundred percent of the income standard used to qualify for free and reduced price lunches, and meets at least one of the following qualifications:”
1. Attended a public school one semester of the last 12 months or
2. Or is eligible to begin kindergarten or first grade.
There is also a priority in which the scholarships will be handed out.
HB 349 and HB 86, which has some added requirements to HB 349 and future limitations, was signed by Governor Parson, July 14, 2021. HB 349 and SB 86 will now be sent to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office to become an enrolled act. The law will not go into effect until August 28, 2021.
To view the bills and the summaries visit these links:
HB 349, Truly Agreed and Finally Passed:
HB 349, Truly Agreed and Finally Passed, Summary: https://www.house.mo.gov/bill.../bills211/sumpdf/HB0349T.pdf
SB 86, Truly Agreed and Finally Passed:
SB 86, Truly Agreed and Finally Passed, Summary:
FHE appreciates your support of homeschooling and your willingness to stand with us to protect our Missouri homeschool freedoms. Thank you for being part of the team. It takes all of us working together!!!
Thank you to the families that came to the FHE Homeschool Day in March. It was a great day and made an impact for homeschool support.
Mark your calendars for next year—March 1, 2022!!!
(For more bill information visit www.house.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov)
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