Updates: Delegates pass omnibus education bill after a long, long day of debate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An omnibus education bill is on a passage vote today in the House of Delegates. The day was beginning with a public hearing about the bill, which has support from the legislative majority but criticism by public educators.

Updates here:

11:15 p.m. 51 ayes, 47 nays, so passes

Delegate McGeehan makes a motion to adjourn sine die.

Delegate Espinosa: “If the gentleman’s motion is successful, might that prevent us from taking action on what happens in the Senate?”

McGeehan’s motion is rejected. A different motion, to return at the call of the chair, passes.

11:09 p.m. Delegate Espinosa is closing debate on the bill!

10:38 p.m. Speeches continue.

Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton, D-Kanawha: “If this bill passes, I don’t know how any of you can sleep tonight.”

Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio: “I’m tired of this process. I’m tired of doing this over and over.”

Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock: “I’m going to predict this bill will pass. I’m going to predict the governor will sign it. I’m going to predict I walked out of here tonight in bipartisan opposition.”

Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell: “I know five, six, seven folks have been thinking about which way they’re going to go.”

Minority Leader Tim Miley, D-Harrison, says he is usually reluctant to speak this late. “But since you all kept me here for 12 hours, I’m going to speak anyway.”

10:02 p.m. Still going.

8:24 p.m. The House of Delegates took up the omnibus education bill about 2 p.m.

7:49 p.m. About 12 hours after a public hearing on an omnibus education bill, delegates begin to consider a pass or fail vote on the bill itself.

Delegate Mick Bates, D-Raleigh, rises and objects to the omnibus nature of the bill. “It is not right, it is unwise and I believe your heart and your head know it to be so,” Bates says to Speaker Roger Hanshaw.

Delegate Terry Waxman, R-Harrison, responds, “This bill contains a lot of really good and necessary improvements to education. But we’ve also heard a lot of angst expressed about the mere permission to establish a charter school.”

7:39 p.m. Delegates are considering two dueling amendments about what factors should be considered during reductions in force.

Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, has one. She says it encourages continuing education. “What I’m trying to do is get people to invest in one’s self.”

Delegate Espinosa has a competing amendment. He cites some contribution by the governor in formulating it. The two are similar, but Espinosa says his version would allow consideration of a broader array of factors.

“I think we’re fairly close here,” Espinosa says.

Delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, says, “The good old boy system is alive and well.”

56 ayes, 41 nays on the Storch version. So that’s the one adopted.

7:09 p.m. We’re back on the amendments that were set aside earlier. First up is a sales tax holiday amendment by Delegate Sean Hornbuckle that was originally discussed at 3:09 p.m.

It was revised a bit in the meantime. This go-round,it is adopted, 93-4

6:56 p.m. A proposed amendment by Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo, to eliminate all the charter schools language from the bill is defeated.

The vote was 45 ayes, 52 nays, 3 absent.

“I just can’t bring myself to believe this is the right idea for West Virginia,” Dean said while wrapping up more than an hour of debate.

6:42 p.m. Still making speeches.

5:33 p.m. Delegate Brandon Steele asking for a Mark Dean amendment to come up next. I’m not sure what the procedural strategy is

Looks like this proposed amendment kills the entire charter schools section of

Dean: “It eliminates every reference to charter schools throughout the bill.”

Delegate Espinosa: “If we adopt this amendment before us, I think we can almost assure we will not reach agreement with the Senate.”

Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha: “I believe in the data that 88 percent of the people in West Virginia are against this. Nobody in my district has asked me for it. Nobody.”

Finance Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley responds, “Let’s bring our students up, our schools up, let’s offer public charter schools.”

Following Steele’s motion, delegates make speeches for at least an hour.

5:19 p.m. 

Espinosa: “It does allow for us to potentially authorize a handful of public charter schools and then to continually assess that as we go forward.”

Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, says this is “an amendment to assuage the governor.” He calls it “a smokescreen,” contending the result would actually be unlimited charters over time.

Espinosa closes debate. He calls this “a measured approach.”

The vote is 51-44 with five absences, so the amendment is adopted.

5:02 p.m. New proposal by Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo: No county board votes on charter schools until board members have gone through an electoral cycle.

Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock: “This amendment actually makes a little bit of sense.”

Vote is 45-52-3, so the amendment is rejected.

4:40 p.m. Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo, offers an amendment for county referendums on charter schools. Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, says this decision should be entrusted to locally-elected school boards.

Dean’s proposed amendment is rejected 42-55 with three absences.

4:30 p.m. 

43 ayes, 53 nays, four absent. So Thompson amendment is rejected

4:11 p.m. Here’s where we are.

3:59 p.m. An amendment by Delegate Mark Dean, R-Mingo, was approved narrowly.

3:43 p.m.  Delegate Espinosa has an amendment dealing with reduction in force situations. It adds this phrase: “which shall include, at a minimum, seniority and appropriate certification, licensure, or both.”

Delegate Dean, R-Mingo, points out that there is another amendment covering the same topic and wonders how that should be handled.

While that’s being worked out, delegates are moving on to other amendments.

3:38 p.m. Delegate Fleischauer has an amendment to remove the word “public” from “public charter schools” in the bill. Also, where the words “noncharter public school” appear in the bill, striking out the word “noncharter.”

She says she is offended by the language but is withdrawing the amendment

3:09 p.m. Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, proposes an amendment establishing a sales tax holiday. Republicans might normally be on board about this, but they’re raising questions about fiscal implications, particularly since we’re right up against the fiscal year.

Hornbuckle changed his amendment to be for the following fiscal year, but there are still concerns.

Delegate Tony Paynter, R-Wyoming, is incredulous. “We get a chance to vote on a tax cut today, and we’re debatin’ it.”

Now the question is about whether this amendment applies to an appropriate section of state code for this bill.

Delegate Andrew Robinson, D-Kanawha: “Are you kidding? This is a tax cut. You are the party of tax cuts.”

Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, makes a motion to move this amendment to the foot of all the other amendments. So the tax holiday moves to the last amendment to be considered.

2:58 p.m. There was a long debate about an amendment described as trying to put charter schools on equal footing with public schools when it comes to averting discrimination.

The language was fairly simple: Delegates Rowe and Hansen move to amend the bill on page 69, section 11, line 30 by striking out the words “school enrollment decisions” and inserting in lieu thereof, the word “schools”.

So it would change the prohibition of discrimination when students enroll to also prohibit discrimination at charter schools at any time at all.

The only ones voting against it are delegates Porterfield, Fast, Malcolm and Bibby. So, after all that, it passes overwhelmingly.

2:43 p.m. Delegates approved this amendment dealing with the Schools for the Deaf and Blind

2 p.m. The House of Delegates is about to start discussion of the omnibus education bill.

Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, is explaining the bill.

There are a lot of proposed amendments.

1:23 p.m. The House is taking a brief recess or lunch break until 1:45.

12:27 p.m. The House ran through a bunch of supplemental appropriations bills. Now the House is entering the zone of the education bills, starting with HB 158 — Improving education by requiring the state board to establish rules for student accountability regarding performance. Has to do with standardized testing.

Current discussion, which is fairly bipartisan: How do you make students take standardized testing seriously?

11:01 a.m. The House floor session has begun. The omnibus education bill is listed at the bottom of a big stack of bills. Expect a long floor session because delegates are doing amendments today in addition to votes on the passage of bills.

There are nearly 40 amendments filed to be considered for the omnibus education bill.

9:34 a.m. Public hearing is wrapping up. Delegate Wilson: “I’d like to thank each one of you for being here, for taking part in your constitutionally-formed democratic republic.”

9:18 a.m. Jasper Ball, recent Capital High graduate, says the third try on the omnibus bill is not a great idea.

“We face a teacher shortage, and I present a viable solution: Increase the pay.”

9:10 a.m. Bryan Daugherty of Ritchie County High School says teachers have to bring their A game every day of the year. He says students need counselors and nurses too.

“I want to fix our schools for our kids, all kids in all counties.”

9:04 a.m. Debra Sullivan, former principal of Charleston Catholic and current state school board member, says the charter option will erode public schools.

9 a.m. I was later told that this was Tonya Stuart of Harrison County.

8:52 a.m. Fred Albert, president of AFT-WV: “Are you really listening? Come on. 60 seconds?”

Albert concludes: “You say West Virginia is one of only four states that don’t have charter schools. We should wear that as a badge of honor.”

8:50 a.m. Ian Helmick of Morgan County: “We were told this was traditionally the people’s house, listening to the people of West Virginia. You’re not.”

8:47 a.m. Betty Rivard, a citizen activist: “This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

8:45 a.m. Dale Lee of the WVEA: “I want to thank the galleries and the people who came out here. These are the true experts on public education who have demanded not once, not twice but three times that their voices be heard.”

Delegate Wilson to Lee: “Please keep your comments to the bill.”

Lee: “I can’t thank people?”

8:38 a.m. Crystal Adkins, special education teacher in Marion County, says 88 percent of respondents to statewide forums said they do not want charter schools. “I hope you will take into consideration and vote no on omnibus bill 3.0 now.”

8:27 a.m. Joe White of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association: “My heart is hurting because the voice of West Virginia has 60 seconds to speak.”

Delegate Wilson cuts him off at the 60-second mark. Crowd reacts. Wilson says, “Keep order or I will shut down this hearing.”

8:22 a.m. Nicole McCormick, president of Mercer County Education Association and a music teacher: “My question to anyone who would vote for this legislation is, who are you listening to?”

McCormick talks about buying lunch for children without means, or prom tickets.

“We go to funerals of parents who have died of overdoses.”

“We are the experts. We are the ones who live this life every day.”

8:15 a.m. Julie Samples, a second grade teacher in Putnam County, “If you can hear my voice please vote no on the omnibus bill.”

8:13 a.m. Steve Wiseman of the West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council says charter schools “would likely result in those students being marginalized and separated.”

8:11 a.m. Jessi Troyan of the Cardinal Institute compares solving the education to a Rubik’s Cube, describing various challenges. Completing the solid on one side of the Rubik’s Cube doesn’t solve the whole puzzle.” She’s in favor of the school choice provisions.

8:04 a.m. Roy Raymond of Cabell County, a veteran, says “none of us serve to serve an overbearing government.” He talks about freedom and the desirability of choices. “I’m advocating in favor of this bill.” He says there is no reason to limit the number of charter schools.

8:01 a.m. The first speaker is Kathie Hess Crouse. She speaks in favor of school choice options. She gets cut off at the end by Wilson, who reminds speakers that their time is up when the red light goes off.

8 a.m. The public hearing is getting started. Delegate Marshall Wilson, R-Berkeley, is addressing the crowd.

He says speakers have 60 seconds each, which gets a muted reaction.

More News

Gov. Justice unveils statue honoring first governor, Arthur I. Boreman in Wheeling
Boreman took up the state's first chief executive position on June 20, 1863 when we first became a state.
June 20, 2024 - 7:20 pm
Chef Paul Smith attracts large crowd in for monthly cooking demo at Capitol Market following major award win
Smith hosts the demos annually from May until September on the third Thursday of every month.
June 20, 2024 - 5:34 pm
Summer officially arrives to late-summer like temperatures
Brief break in heat may come Monday.
June 20, 2024 - 5:01 pm
Calhoun County resident wins West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce Contest
Paige Tony was presented with the top prize by First Lady Justice at the West Virginia Culture Center.
June 20, 2024 - 4:22 pm