HB 628 (2023), the bill that seeks to require background checks for “nonpublic schools and education service providers that accept public funds to comply with requirements for criminal history background checks for employees and volunteers” had a work session on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep Linda Tanner, indicated that the goal is to require background checks on a variety of education providers who directly or indirectly receive tax-payer funding. This could easily ensnare traditional, RSA 193-A homeschoolers even though they do not receive government-sponsored assistance.
GSHE is monitoring this bill because it is identical to one introduced in 2022, HB 1664, and the sponsors of that bill said at their October 11, 2022 work session that parents are “bad actors” and choose home-education in order to hide child abuse. The recording of this session is available here starting at 1:32:15.
Work Session Update
GSHE director, Michelle Levell, was the only parent-representative present at the work session and had an opportunity to speak with Rep Tanner about the bill. I urged her to remove section 3 that refers to the Education Tax Credit Scholarship and home educating families. The sponsor seems receptive to an amendment that would not place this burden on parents.
In her opening statement to the work session, Rep Tanner stated that she does not intend the bill to apply to homeschoolers who are educating their own children.
Several members of the subcommittee commented that they recall the dozen parents that attended the public hearing in February and numerous emails they received. The representatives remember hearing from parents and it definitely factored into their discussion. This is why a vigilant and engaged homeschool community is critical to protecting our freedom.
I offered to work with Rep Tanner on a friendly amendment that will protect traditional homeschooling parents.
The subcommittee is expected to have another work session when at least one amendment may be introduced and discussed.
The entire House Education Committee will meet after that to discuss and vote on all retailed bills, including HB 628, at some point, likely in November. This is when it will be important to contact all of the committee members. From there, their recommendation will move forward to the entire House of Representatives when they reconvene in early January.
GSHE will continue to monitor this bill and keep our community informed with any updates.
UPDATE 10/11/2023: HB 628, the "witch hunt" background check bill, will have another work session on Tuesday, October 17 at 9am in Legislative Office Building (LOB) room 205-207. Hopefully, they will introduce an amendment to remove background checks on parents.
The full committee will vote on this bill on Monday, November 13 at 9:30am. It is important to email the entire committee prior to that vote, encouraging them to keep out of 193-A homeschool programs that do not receive taxpayer funds. You can email the entire committee at this address, HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us or use their individual contact info that is available here.
Live stream links to their YouTube channel are not available yet, but check back to their channel to find them once posted.
UPDATE 10/13/2023: Here is the YouTube channel link for the House Education Committee's work session on 10/17.
COMMITTEE EXECUTIVE SESSION UPDATE 11/13/2023
An Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) motion, an attempt to kill the bill, failed in a 10 to 10 vote along party lines.
Next, an Ought to Pass (OTP) motion was put forward along with an amendment #2300h by prime sponsor, Rep. Linda Tanner, that provides an exception for 193-A, traditional, unfunded home-educating families who only provide education for their own children, not others. Even with this amendment, parents who offer any kind of group learning opportunity that includes a child who is in the Education Freedom Account (EFA) program would be required to conduct background checks. The bill fundamentally indicates a distrust of parents and is a slippery slope.
A vote to accept the amendment failed with another 10 to 10 vote along party lines. The committee then voted on the underlying bill as introduced with an Ought to Pass (OTP) motion, that also produced a tie.
The default position, Ought to Pass (OTP), along with the proposed amendment, will move forward to the entire House of Representatives when they reconvene in early January to start the 2024 session.
GSHE suggests contacting your own state representatives sometime after mid December, but before the New Year, urging them to reject HB 628. The bill shows a distrust of parents directing their children's learning.
Find your state representatives' contact information on the NH General Court website. We recommend making the email subject title very clear that it is about HB 628 re background checks so it stands out among all the other emails state reps are likely to receive heading into the opening session.
Note that the NH House of Representatives has an exceptionally slim Republican majority with 198 to 197 Democrats, and three independents. House votes hinge on who shows up on session days.
GSHE Advocacy Resources
Sign up for our newsletters and periodic special alerts at our website.
Contact us at info@GraniteStateHomeEducators.org.
Make a Difference – various ways to get involved.
NH Legislators – updated for 2023 with the Senate and House Education Committee members’ contact information.
Legislative Process – know how bills go through Concord.
Make a Difference video – how to be an effective advocate in Concord.
By Michelle Levell