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House Education Committee passes governor’s K-12 bill


Charleston Gazette-Mail

After about four hours of discussion, questions and amendments, the West Virginia House Education Committee passed at 11 p.m. Wednesday Gov. Jim Justice’s wide-ranging K-12 education bill.

Wednesday was the first appearance of the bill in a legislative committee. It now heads to the House Finance Committee.

The committee discussed and passed Wednesday an amended version of House Bill 2711, which would eliminate the state’s eight Regional Education Service Agencies, the state Office of Education Performance Audits and the requirement that public schools have 180 separate instructional days while granting a pay raise to teachers across the state.

As amended late Wednesday night, HB 2711 would also grant a pay raise to service employees, including cooks, custodians and bus drivers. A firm figure for how much the amendment would cost the state wasn’t available Wednesday.

In another difference from the version that the governor introduced, the main amendment to HB 2711 — only revealed Wednesday — would postpone the date by which RESAs would have to transfer away “property, equipment and records” from July 1 of this year to July 1 of next year.

The first appearance of the governor’s bill, which has Senate and House versions, on a legislative committee agenda Wednesday night was late in this year’s legislative session. According to the Legislature’s calendar, Sunday is when bills are due out of committees in their house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

HB 2711 still is in its house of origin, meaning it still must pass the full House and full Senate. Republican and Democratic delegates both suggested that furthering the bill Wednesday night would allow the teacher pay raise to progress this session.

Ken Hicks, D-Wayne, said he opposed the bill and asked for a roll call vote, but the committee passed the bill out on a divided voice vote.

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