Legislative Update for WV Homeschoolers

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Legislative, News

You may recall that last year an attempt to make some technical changes to the Hope scholarship program caused quite a stir among homeschoolers. This is primarily because the bill moved to erase distinctions between several different educational options.  After much outcry from the homeschool community, changes were made to the bill, but it stalled in the Senate near the end of the 2023 session.

We Have Good News:

CHEWV has been working over the last year to educate legislators (and others) about the importance of keeping privately funded homeschooling as a separate legal category from Hope scholarship recipients. That way, homeschooling can remain a safety net for all types of schooling and parents can have the freedom to direct the education of their children without excess government involvement.

John Carey, CHEWV’s legislative liaison, carried this message to legislators during interim session meetings all through last year and early in the year’s regular session.  Legislators seem to have understood our concerns and have responded with bills that do indeed maintain the legal separation between privately funded homeschoolers and other options, including the Hope scholarship’s “individualized instruction program.”

Positive Updates to the HOPE Scholarship Law

CHEWV is glad to report that legislators have found several ways to make needed changes to the Hope scholarship program, e.g. clarifying PROMISE Scholarship eligibility, while still maintaining a legal separation for privately-funded homeschoolers.

SB 598: Senate Educational Choice committee chair Patricia Rucker is the lead sponsor of a Senate “Hope fix” bill which is co-sponsored by Senators Roland Roberts and Robert Karnes.

HB 4945: Delegate Paul Espinosa and several other co-sponsors, including House Education committee chairman Joe Ellington, introduced a similar bill in the House of Delegates.

Both HB 4945 and SB 598 are intended to improve the Hope scholarship program by making various technical tweaks to the law. We are so thankful for the legislators who take the viewpoint of homeschoolers into consideration.

What’s Next for Homeschool Legislation in WV?

Both HB 4945 and SB 598 have passed out of their first assigned committee and are now pending before their respective Finance committees in the House and Senate.  We will continue to monitor these bills, watching for any amendments that would create negative “side effects” for homeschool families. SB 598 does open up the section of the state code that contains homeschool requirements, so we will keep a particularly close eye on any amendments proposed for this bill that could affect homeschooling.

Delegate Kathie Hess Crouse has introduced two bills that we’re watching:

  • HB 4457 would eliminate annual assessment requirements for homeschoolers.
  • HB 5189 would create a tax credit for homeschoolers equivalent to the amount that the student would receive annually if a Hope recipient.

Both of these bills were referred to the House Education committee but have not yet been taken up by the committee.  As of this writing, we are just over two weeks away from “crossover day” which is the last day that bills may be acted on in the bill’s originating chamber.

In other words, House Bills that are going to be passed on to the Senate for consideration must be passed by the House by February 28th — and the same holds true for bills coming out of the Senate to the House of Delegates.

If you would like to find out more about any of these bills, follow the links embedded in this article to the texts. Look for the underlined wording (proposed new wording) and strike-through wording (proposed to be removed).

We’re encouraged but more committed than ever to upholding freedom of choice for homeschool educators in West Virginia.