The House Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 1663 relative to requirements for home education on Thursday, February 3. Homeschoolers and supporters filled the committee room and every person who testified was in support of the bill. Speakers were very articulate about the various reasons they support the bill and how the issues impact their families. The hearing is available on the committee’s YouTube channel; the HB 1663 hearing begins around 1:58 of the video.
The testimony I presented to the committee was abbreviated in the interest of time, but is available here in full and was distributed to the committee at the conclusion of my remarks with an electronic version emailed later that day.
Next Step: Executive Session
The next step in the legislative process is an executive session. It may happen anytime the committee meets now that the public hearing concluded. This is when the committee discusses the bill, may introduce amendments, and votes on the bill. The committee’s recommendation is very influential when the bill moves on to the entire House for a vote. At the executive session, the public does not speak, but may attend and observe.
We speculate that the exec session for HB 1665 may occur on or around February 15, but we do not know for sure. The committee may schedule it in an upcoming House Calendar, but is not required to announce an exec session for particular bills in advance.
The public may continue to contact the committee about HB 1663 up until such time that they hold the executive session. This means that families still have (limited) time to email or call them; their contact information is available here and the whole committee may be reached at HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.
Shortly after the committee’s executive session, the HB 1663 will be scheduled for a vote in an upcoming House session when every member of the House of Representatives will vote on the bill along with many others. It is during this interval when the public may contact their own local Representatives to about HB 1663. Brief calls or emails are best and indicate you are a constituent. Clearly indicate your position on the bill and include a brief description of the bill to identify it as regarding home education requirements; legislators must consider hundreds of bills so this helps them know which one you’re referencing.
Only if the bill is passed will it advance to the Senate in late spring in what is called “cross over.” This is when the House and Senate essentially trade surviving bills. If we are successful, the Senate Education Committee will schedule a public hearing, just like what occurred in the House Education Committee, and the whole process is repeated.
Tips and Resources
We created resources to help families effectively prepare communications to their legislators and it is available here.
We encourage GSHE homeschooling members join our Facebook group, GSHE Action, where we focus exclusively on news, legislation, and issues that impact homeschool freedom.
It is very important that homeschoolers stay informed and make a commitment to be engaged. What does that mean? That means following along in GSHE Action where we will give you all the inside information and tips to support and defend homeschool freedom. It means you will need to send multiple emails to committee members, maybe call them, and try to attend public hearings. The State House has remote sign-in and viewing, but testimony must be in-person.
The key to success is YOU. Don't be passive here, hoping someone else will send a brief email or make that call. This will impact your children for years to come and you need to make it happen. GSHE will help, but we can't do it for you.
In anticipation of the legislative season, GSHE created tools to help families to TAKE ACTION and GET INVOLVED.
Our Make a Difference page includes several ways to easily get involved and not only engage in Concord, but help your neighbors and friends learn more about homeschooling.
We also created a handy reference page with legislators' contact information for the House and Senate education committees. It is easy to reach out to them on matters you care about.
Finally, we created an overview of the legislative process so you can follow along with how Concord works.
GSHE is a registered 501c4, all-volunteer home education support group. This allows us to take a position on legislation that impacts our community and accept donations.
By Michelle Levell