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Full West Virginia House to Consider Amendments to Education ‘Omnibus’ Bill

Perry Bennett
West Virginia Legislative Photography

The full West Virginia House of Delegates is set to consider a controversial education reform bill. The measure, which has taken a winding path since passing in the Senate last week, has made its way through two House committees and will be on the floor amendment stage Wednesday.

The House Finance Committee approved a version of the bill passed last week by the chamber’s education committee. The Finance Committee failed Monday night to get its own, more robust version of the bill to the floor. Instead, Tuesday they approved the House Education Committee’s proposed strike-and-insert amendment.

Del. Mick Bates, D-Raleigh, took issue with the Finance Committee’s version.

“I think the House did a good job with getting this bill through last week. We were dealing with what was basically a shell of the Senate and then yesterday we went back to this sort of you know ‘wham, bam, thank you, ma’am’ kind of approach to things -- and that's just the wrong way to do things,” Bates said.

The House Education Committee’s proposal made significant changes to the Senate’s original offering, including a provision allowing a pilot of two charter schools. The education committee’s version of the bill also removes education savings accounts and a non-severability clause.

Following passage in the Finance Committee, the House also read the bill a first time Tuesday. Senate Bill 451 now moves on to the floor amendment stage Wednesday.

House Finance Chair Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, said he hopes some of the provisions included in the version approved by the Senate will make their way back into the bill.

“I'm pleased that we do have the opportunity on second reading to make amendments -- to make it a little stronger -- for people like myself,” Householder said. “I would like to see unlimited charter schools, unlimited [education savings accounts]. But now it's just the will of this body. So, I'm very optimistic and we'll see where it goes.”

The version that passed the Senate and the House Education Committee’s offering -- as well as any other proposed amendments -- will be considered during Wednesday’s House floor session.

Should the House pass a version of the bill in any way different than that which was passed the Senate, the bill would return to the upper chamber for additional consideration. 

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