by Allison Gentala, AFHE Government Affairs
May 28, 2019
As the school year wraps up for many of us, so does the 1st regular session of the 54th Legislature at Arizona’s State Capitol. Much like school years, sessions are exciting and fun, but we’re always ready for a break at the end. This legislative session was largely uneventful for homeschool freedom—which is exactly the way we like it!
A bit of History: The session opened on January 14 and adjourned sine die at 12:58 am on May 28. This year’s legislative session was longer than average, but by no means the longest. In 2013, the 51st Legislature 1st Regular Session lasted 151 days as Governor Brewer pushed for Medicaid expansion. Previously, in 2009, the 49th Legislature 1st regular session ran 170 days due to budget disagreements. As if that wasn’t enough, summer of 2009 was full of special sessions where lawmakers were hard at work for an additional 71 days. But the record for the longest session was set back in 1988 by the 38th Legislature 2nd regular session, which ran 173 days, as the impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham was underway.
The 54th Legislature is closely divided. There are 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the House, 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the Senate. While AFHE is a non-profit and stays bipartisan, legislators do not. The close vote margin makes it difficult to both pass favorable legislation for homeschoolers and to oppose legislation that jeopardizes homeschool freedom. We are grateful there were no bills limiting or regulating homeschoolers this session and no special situations for homeschoolers requiring legislation to rectify or clarify.
AFHE’s legislative team spent the session watching bills, meeting new legislators, joining school choice coalition meetings, and getting homeschool information packets to all legislators. Additionally, throughout the session, our government affairs team responded to questions from lawmakers about how pending legislation might affect homeschooling.
In addition to legislative work, AFHE’s Government Affairs Team also works to build relationships with elected officials outside the Legislature. This year we have been gradually meeting with county school superintendents and mailed each one a homeschool information packet. It’s important to know that many bills pass or are killed by one or two votes. Although as a nonprofit organization which is bipartisan, AFHE does not support candidates. We do, however, support homeschool freedom and parental rights. If you want to be a part of protecting this freedom and rights, we encourage you to research the candidates and be certain to cast your vote every election cycle in accordance with your views in these areas.
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