Legislative Alert – Diploma Fairness 5/26/14

May 26, 2014

Thanks to all who responded to the need to contact legislators this past week regarding an amendment drafted for HB 487.  The purpose of this update is twofold – to step back and give some additional context to clarify responses to your calls from the office of the Senate Education Committee Chair and to encourage you to stay focused on the need to resolve these critical issues.

The language drafted would create a new section in RC 3313 and would allow a diploma issued by a parent to satisfy a verification of completion of the homeschool experience. It would not be a state issued diploma. There would be no automatic guarantee of hiring and no automatic guarantee of acceptance into college. There is no intention to create a “privilege.”  It will simply eliminate the discriminatory practice of using state law to deny home educated graduates the opportunity to be considered for employment or denied acceptance into a state college/university without taking a GED.

Concerned citizens, who called Senator Lehner, as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, to express concerns, were told the amendment language was offered too late to give proper consideration prior to the final vote and that amendments are not voted upon without the opportunity to be “adequately vetted.” Callers were also misinformed that the amendment was submitted at the last minute in the House.

For clarification, suggestions for this exact language were submitted in legislative meetings in the House in early March. CHEO has been working with legislative staff on resolving this specific issue for the past two years.

With regard to the idea that amendments are not permitted to be offered without the Chair’s approval or without proper “vetting” is absurd.  It is a common practice for the committee chairman to establish a “deadline” for getting copies of such amendments to the chairman’s office. However, in a constitutional republic such as ours, any member of a legislative committee may offer an amendment to a bill up until the time the vote is cast. Amendments may also be offered on the chamber floor prior to a final vote.

The Ohio Constitution, Article II, sec. 7 states, “Each house shall determine its own rules of proceeding.”  Ohio law does not cover the establishment of committee procedures, except as it pertains to “open meetings” (RC 101.15).

Each legislative chamber approves and publishes its rules for proceedings in each new legislative session. The current Senate Rules are silent on the timing of offering amendments. There is no Senate Rule requiring the committee chairman to establish deadlines for the submittal of amendments so each amendment can be properly “vetted” before presentation of a vote.

The Legislative Service Commission does, however, publish a Guidebook for Ohio Legislators (13th edition, 2013-14), which includes a chapter entitled, “Enacting Legislation”.  It states, “Amendments may be offered in committee only by members of the committee… Generally, amendments are prepared before the committee meeting at which they will be offered so that copies may be made available to the other members of the committee. Sometimes, however, amendments are offered without advance preparation and without time for advance copying and distribution. The procedure to be followed in such cases is largely a matter for determination by the committee chairperson.” (p. 52)

The point is this, with respect – Chairman Lehner could have allowed the amendment to be considered.  She was the gatekeeper. It is roughly 2 pages in length and clearly stated. The problem is real. The solution is simple. HSLDA’s recent assertion was spot on…”It is never too late to do the right thing.”

At this point, the process for Am. Sub. H.B. 487 isn’t finished. It passed the House and passed the Senate, but the House has not been presented with the Senate changes to give a concurring vote. If the House does not agree to the changes made in the bill by the Ohio Senate, then Am.Sub. H.B. 487 will be assigned to a conference committee for further consideration. Once the conference committee makes final revisions to the bill, it will go back to each chamber for a final vote.


1. The problem of unnecessary discrimination toward home educated graduates will not be resolved without legislative intervention.

2. Please continue to contact Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder and ask for his leadership to resolve this problem either through the Conference Committee on HB487 or other appropriate legislation. It is the language prepared in amendment 2737  (AM2737X1 drafted amendment to HB487) that is needed.

3. Please continue to contact Ohio Senate President Keith Fabor and ask the same.

4. Please continue to contact your own state representative and state senator and ask for their support for legislation that would resolve this discriminatory practice.

 If you have previously called, please call again and ask what is being done to get a quick resolution.

Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder:  614-466-8140

Ohio Senate President Keith Fabor:  614-466-7584

Locate your legislator:  http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/  Fill in the info on the right to search.

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