NHELD Update – New Connecticut Mental Health Bill

A new Senate bill has been placed on the Connecticut Children's Committee agenda scheduled for hearing on February 14.  National Home Legal Defense  (NHELD) offers more information about this bill in the organization's new Bulletin – More CT Proposed Legislation Regarding Children’s Mental Health Assessment.

There are now two proposed CT bills regarding children's mental health assessments: Senate Bill 374 [held in Public Health Committee] and Senate Bill 169 [held in Children's Committee].

The new bill, SB 169, does not contain language specifiying homeschoolers in this mental health assessment proposal.  SB 374 did  include homeschoolers in the proposed mental health assessments at 12, 14 and 17 years of age.  From the NHELD Bulletin and Deborah Stevenson pertaining to the new SB 169:

This bill is before the Children's Committee.  It apparently was placed on the agenda of a committee meeting, and it has been scheduled for a public hearing on February 14, 2013.  While at first glance, it sounds as though Senate Bill 169 purports to do the same thing as Senate Bill 374, it is extremely important not to jump to conclusions.  Legally speaking, one needs to review the exact language in any bill to determine its true effect.
For example, Bill 169 does not include the word "homeschool" at all.  Therefore, as it stands right now, based on the plain language of the bill, this bill has no direct effect on parents who homeschool their children.  In fact, Bill 169 says that the statutes are to be amended to require the assessments. It does not even specify when those statutes are to be amended, or in what manner.  To be sure, there are many arguments that can be made that the bill, as it is written now, should not be adopted.  But it would not be accurate to say that, at this time, this bill directly affects the rights of homeschooling parents.

There are many stages in the life of any bill.  The chairmen of each committee may change the language in the bill before it gets voted on, before or after a public hearing takes place on the bill.  The public hearing on Bill 169 is scheduled to take place on February 14.  If anyone wants to comment on the bill, they are certainly free to do so.  But, NHELD suggests that those who do comment on it be very careful not to allege that this bill is a direct threat against homeschooling. If we approach the legislature as homeschoolers, it is most important that we speak with accuracy and intelligence.  Remember that the key is to persuade.  Appearing to react to something that is not actually contained in a bill will not achieve your goal.  It may have the opposite effect and may even make legislators disregard your opinion.

Read more at the NHELD site.

The Corn and Oil sidebar contains a category – Mental Health Screening – under Parental Watch Issues. There is much information about the pharmaceutical companies' lobbying influence on our federal and state legislators.  

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