6:00: Morning News

House announces leaders for four education committees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates is firming up four select committees to examine education legislation.

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw announced the leaders of the four committees. The House is set to return to special session at 8:30 a.m. June 17.

Committee leadership includes:

Select Committee on Education Reform A

Will meet in the House Judiciary Committee Room, 418M

Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer

Vice-Chairman Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh

Minority Chairman Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell

Minority Vice-Chairwoman Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall

Select Committee on Education Reform B

Will meet in the East Wing Committee Room (Gov Org), 215E

Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer

Vice-Chairwoman Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha

Minority Chairman Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel

Minority Vice-Chairman Robert Thompson, D-Wayne

Select Committee on Education Reform C

Will meet in the House Education Committee Room, 432M

Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson

Vice-Chairman Marshall Wilson, R-Berkeley

Minority Chairwoman Cindy Lavender-Bowe, D-Greenbrier

Minority Vice-Chairwoman Amanda Estep-Burton, D-Kanawha

Select Committee on Education Reform D

Will meet in the House Finance Committee Room, 460M

Chairman Steve Westfall, R-Jackson

Vice-Chairman Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh

Minority Chairman John Doyle, D-Jefferson

Minority Vice-Chairman Ed Evans, D-McDowell

Steve Westfall

Delegate Westfall, the chairman of Committee D, said he hopes to hear more from the Speaker and from his fellow legislators in the coming days.

“I really don’t know exactly what will go through the committee I’m chairing or what will go through any committee. We’ll see. By the end of the week I’m sure we’ll have a gameplan,” Westfall, R-Jackson, told WMOV radio.

This all started when Governor Justice and members of the Republican majority promised a pay raise for educators last October.

During the regular session, the majority in the Senate then rolled the pay raise into an omnibus bill with other education issues, including some that were controversial. The bill went back and forth between chambers until the House tabled it.

That’s when Justice called a special session on education “betterment.”

Westfall said he thinks compromise remains possible.

“I still have faith we can find some sort of middle and get something done between the House, the Senate and the governor, all three of us,” Westfall said.

“Now if we go down and spend five days and send it to the Senate, I will be pretty frustrated. I’m thinking we will be able to get some sort of compromise where nobody’s really happy and nobody’s extremely disappointed and somewhere in the middle we can find a compromise.”

Roger Hanshaw

Although specific bills are being assigned to the committees, Hanshaw has said there is no particular theme to any of them.

Speaking of the special committees right after they had been established, Hanshaw said committees A, B, C and D are not necessarily ordered by topic.

“They’re just groups of people. We could have called them North, South, East and West if we wanted. We have to call them something,” he said. “None of them will focus specifically on any issue. One of the things we want to be sure that happens is that the full membership of the House gets to vote on issues.”

But he said some delegates specified bills they wanted to work on.

“Some said ‘A couple of us would like to work on this issue; a couple of us would like to work on something else. I’d like to be the chair of something.’ To some extent members self-selected and in other cases we just filled out the seats with 25 people,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay.

The state Senate on Monday passed an education bill that includes a variety of educational components, including pay raises for teachers, charter schools, an open enrollment concept and financial support for smaller counties.

Paul Espinosa

Speaking Monday on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Delegate Espinosa said that omnibus bill very well could be considered by delegates but agreed that the four committees in the House will consider individual bills. He referred to Senate Bill 451, which was the omnibus bill from the regular session.

“The last thing we want is to end up where we did in 451. If that’s not the direction our members want to go then we’ll pursue individual legislation,” said Espinosa, R-Jefferson.

“I certainly am not interested in spending a lot of time on something if we don’t have the votes for it, and that’ll be the process we’ll be engaged in in the next several days just trying to ascertain where our members are on the various provisions in the bill, whether they’d prefer to proceed with consideration of Senate Bill 1039 or whether they’d prefer to consider individual pieces of legislation.

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