Senate committee kills ‘Tebow Bill’

By Paige Baxter
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A Senate committee Thursday shot down the “Tebow bill” aimed at allowing home-schoolers to participate in public schools’ sports and other extracurricular activities.

The Senate Education and Health Committee defeated House Bill 1442 on a 7-8 vote, thus taking the matter off the table for this legislative session.

All of the Republicans on the committee except Sen. Harry Blevins, R-Chesapeake, voted in favor of HB 1442. Blevins joined the seven Democratic committee members in opposing the bill.

The legislation is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who as a home-schooler in Florida played football for his local high school team.

HB 1442 would have allowed home-schoolers in Virginia to do the same, said Delegate Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, who sponsored the measure. “Home-school kids just want a chance to try out.”

How they voted

Here is how the Senate Education and Health Committee voted Thursday on HB 1442 (“Public school interscholastic programs; participation of students receiving home instruction”).

02/14/13 Senate: Failed to report (defeated) in Education and Health (7-Y 8-N)

YEAS – Martin, Newman, Smith, McWaters, Black, Carrico, Garrett – 7.

NAYS – Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Blevins, Locke, Barker, Northam, Miller – 8.

The committee heard testimony on the bill Thursday morning. Bell brought many home-schooled children, teenagers and even a few college students to testify and show their support.

“All I’m asking you … is to give me simply the opportunity to play sports,” said Eli Marellus, a 14-year-old home-schooler.

Virginia is one of 21 states that do not give home-schoolers access to play public school sports. The remaining states have a policy or law permitting home-schooled students to participate in public school activities and sports.

Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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