Updates: Omnibus education bill passes state Senate, 18-15-1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A broad-ranging education bill passed the state Senate today.

The Senate convened at 9 a.m.

The bill under consideration includes a variety of proposed changes to the education system, including pay raises, charter schools, increased support personnel for schools, open enrollment, incentives to fill in-demand positions and financial support for small or struggling counties.

Follow along here for updates.

12:23 p.m. Senate President Mitch Carmichael lauded passage of the Student Success Act.

11:50 a.m. The Senate voted 18-15 with one absence to pass the omnibus education bill. Senator Plymale has been away. Otherwise, that’s the same vote that occurred over and over during the regular session. All Democrats voted against, plus Republicans Kenny Mann and Bill Hamilton.

Patricia Rucker

11:28 a.m. Senator Rucker now closing debate. With a slightly late start, we’ve gone about two hours now.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Rucker says.

Over several minutes, Rucker goes over aspects of the bill, trying to allay concerns and explaining the rationale behind some parts.

“It was my intent to try to help everyone in this comprehensive bill,” Rucker says.

10:33 a.m. Senator Bill Hamilton, one of two Republicans consistently voting against the various versions of the bill, rises to speak. “I try to do my due diligence, do my research.”

Hamilton continues, “As legislators, we need to have one thing in mind, and one thing in mind only, what’s good for the students.”

Kenny Mann, the other Republican who has been voting against versions of this bill, then rises to speak.

“I respect everyone’s decision,” Mann says, “and I hope and pray that they’ll respect mine.”

10:31 a.m. Senator Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, wants to know when the back and forth over the education bill will stop. He says to Senate President Carmichael, “Are you doomed for eternity to push this rock uphill?”

10:30 a.m. Here’s a version of the presentation about the contents of the omnibus education bill.

Student Success Act (Chamber v2) (06 03 19) (Text)

9:48 a.m. Speeches are starting. Senator Paul Hardesty, D-Logan, rises in opposition. “Senate Bill 1039 is eerily similar to the large, multi-object bill that died in the regular session.”

But, Hardesty says, “If this bill was split up and each issue was put into a standalone bill, I could support many, many of the issues before us today.”

9:24 a.m. Now taking up the “Student Success Act” on a passage vote.

There’s, like, a PowerPoint. Not sure I’ve seen this approach before. Senate Education Chairwoman Patricia Rucker is leading the explanation.

9:17 a.m. Just about to get started here in the Senate. I think. Bell has rung. And now gavel has been banged.

8:55 a.m. There are not as many teachers here as Saturday, but still some presence by educators.

Gov. Jim Justice

7:27 a.m. On Sunday, Gov. Jim Justice met with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses to express reservations about how the special session is going.

He has questioned an unlimited number of charter schools, has asked whether seniority should be displaced as the main factor in layoff situations and criticized a provision that would cancel extracurricular activities in instances of work stoppages.

Justice praised other aspects of what’s going right in West Virginia, and said much of the conflict over education reform is unnecessary.

“I think being here is not any good. I think we’re spending taxpayer dollars. We should have already figured this out,” Justice said. “And I don’t think it’s any good.”

Mitch Carmichael

7:24 a.m. At one point, Senate President Mitch Carmichael had hoped for bipartisan passage of the big education bill. But the votes have not gone that way, and cordiality has withered.

The Republican majority likely has the votes to pass the omnibus education bill on Monday. But Carmichael said he doesn’t think bipartisan support is likely any more.

“No, I don’t,” he said. “And it’s unfortunate because all of the components that were brought to us by the minority party to say ‘If you can do these things then we’ll be able to support it’ and of probably the 10 things that were brought to us we were able to do seven or eight of them.

“So I thought we’d made a great effort to be bipartisan, to be compromising and to be open to viewpoints from across the aisle. And Im disappointed that it’s either all or nothing.”


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