The West Virginia House of Delegates will hold a public hearing on a long, sweeping and controversial education reform bill. At the request of Speaker Roger Hanshaw, the House Finance Committee will allow members of the public to share their thoughts about Senate Bill 451 at 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 11.
The bill, which passed the Senate this week on an 18-16 vote, ties teacher and school service personnel pay raises to a long list of provisions public educators and their unions oppose. Those include the establishment of charter schools and education savings accounts.
The House Education Committee unveiled this week a proposed strike-and-insert amendment to the measure. That version of the bill removes a non-serverability clause and a provision that would force members to sign off annually on the deduction of union dues. Other significant changes to the bill are included in the Education Committee’s version of the proposal, which is still being considered by that panel.
As of now, the strike-and-insert is only formative and would become the official version of the bill if and when the amendment is adopted on second reading on the House floor.
With the bill still being discussed in the Education Committee, Speaker Hanshaw called Thursday for the public hearing.
“We said from the start of our deliberations that we would accept input from all sides in this process, and that includes hearing from our teachers, students, parents and administrators,” Hanshaw said. “A public hearing will allow our citizens, and all those affected by this bill, the opportunity to have their voices heard.”
The Education Committee met Thursday morning and had planned to continue consideration of the bill the same afternoon until Hanshaw had made the request for the public hearing. That committee will resume consideration of the bill Thursday evening and at 9 a.m. Friday.
According to House Rule 84, the House Finance Committee will be able to consider the bill following the public hearing.
The public hearing on Senate Bill 451 will come just days after education and service personnel unions will gather members in Flatwoods for a statewide meeting on Feb. 8. Local chapters are voting this week to decide whether to authorize their leaders to call a work stoppage if they deem it necessary.