Updated Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at 5:04 p.m.
It didn’t take long for Democrats in the West Virginia House of Delegates to try to derail a long, sweeping and controversial education reform bill. The measure, which ties pay raises to charter schools, education savings accounts and other provisions the teachers and the leaders of their unions oppose, saw a motion Tuesday, Feb. 5, that attempted to kill the bill.
The House received the upper chamber’s message on the passage of Senate Bill 451 during a Tuesday floor session.
Del. Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, noted that public educators and their unions could be on the cusp of what would be the second strike in as many years. He moved to postpone the bill indefinitely.
“We have two options here [about] how we are going to proceed throughout the rest of the session. We can strike a match, set it on fire -- we go through what we did last year or we can douse it out right now and put it to an end,” Sponaugle said.
He also outlined various pieces of legislation that have been introduced in the House that individually address the various components of education reform included in Senate Bill 451.
But the House never got to vote on the motion that would have effectively killed the bill.
Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, moved to table Sponaugle’s motion.
"On the Senate side, we heard about how this bill was rushed through. Now, we have an opportunity to send it to several committees and we don't want to do that," said Summers, referring to Sponaugle's motion to postpone the bill.
Summers’ motion was adopted on a 52-44 vote. Republican delegates Mark Dean (Mingo), Pat McGeehan (Hancock) Tony Paynter (Wyoming) and Chris Toney (Raleigh) sided with Democrats.
Senate Bill 451 has been referred to the House Education Committee with a second reference to Finance.
House Education Chair Danny Hamrick (R-Harrison) asked members of the chamber to trust him and his committee. Hamrick also promised substantial changes to the measure as it works through the House Education Committee.
“I just ask you to trust me and trust the members of our leadership to make changes that are necessary -- to leave the good parts in this bill and maybe remove the parts that give us a little bit of heartburn -- the members of both parties of this body as we move forward," Hamrick said on the floor. "Let this bill work through the committee process and, hopefully, by the time it comes out, it's something that can get bipartisan support.”
Leaders of teacher and service personnel unions confirmed they met with House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) Tuesday regarding Senate Bill 451.
In statements issued before and after the bill's passage in the upper chamber, Hanshaw reiterated a commitment to pay raises and funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
He also promised a "serious, deliberate look" at the measure as it works its way through the House.