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WV House committee advances plan to dismantle Department of Education and Arts, remove Secretary Gayle Manchin

The Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s House Finance Committee advanced to the full House of Delegates, on a nearly party-line vote Friday, a bill that would dismantle the state Department of Education and the Arts.

During the House Finance meeting, the House Judiciary Committee sent to a subcommittee a bill that would make six of the nine state Board of Education members elected, and allow lawmakers to amend and reject the policies the state school board passes.

The House Education Committee advanced both bills last week.

House Bill 4006 would eliminate Department of Education and the Arts Secretary Gayle Manchin’s position and her department, but would move agencies under it elsewhere.

Manchin is married to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is running for re-election this year.

All 14 delegates who voted to advance the bill Friday are Republicans, and the 10 who voted against it were all Democrats, except for Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur. Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, was absent.

“We have learned that, basically, all these services are going to remain, with the exception of removing the Madame Secretary,” said Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton. “This has not been requested by the executive [Gov. Jim Justice], who has had no problems removing Democrats from his administration since changing party affiliation.”

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