CHARLESTON, W.Va. —¬†The House of Delegates has two new top leaders on the Education Committee.

Joe Ellington

Delegate Joe Ellington, who had been the chairman of Health and Human Resources, has been named the new Education Committee chairman. Ellington, 60 is a Republican from Mercer County. He is also an obstetrician-gynecologist in Princeton.

The vice-chairman is Joshua Higginbotham, R-Putnam.

Education issues have been a focus of the Legislature for the past couple of years, as thousands of striking educators affected the agenda.

State of WV

Joshua Higginbotham

Two years ago, teachers walked out over pay and insurance issues.

This past year, there was a two-day walkout over an omnibus education bill that included authorization of charter schools and education savings accounts, which shift taxpayer dollars for students leaving public schools for private education.

Delegate Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison, had been the Education Committee chairman this past legislative session but he lost the position after the revelation of a relationship with a legislative intern.

The vice chairman for the Education Committee was Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo. He is principal of Gilbert PreK-6.

Dean found himself at odds with much of the rest of the Republican caucus on aspects of the omnibus education bill, like the charter schools and education savings accounts.

During the special session this spring, Dean offered several amendments that would have affected the charter schools aspect, ranging from removing the entire section of the bill to requiring a local referendum to approve a new charter school.

Leadership in the House of Delegates made more committee changes too, as confirmed Tuesday evening by House spokesman Jared Hunt.

Jordan Hill

Delegate Jordan Hill, R-Nicholas, has been named chairman of the Health and Human Resources Committee, replacing Ellington in that role. Hill had been the vice-chairman during the past legislative session.

The vice chairman for the health committee will be Delegate Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh. Pack had been the vice-chairman of Government Organization.

Delegate Carl “Robbie” Martin will fill the position Pack had held as vice-chairman of Government Organization.