Legislature’s first interim session set for April 30

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Legislature returns to Charleston Tuesday, April 30, for the first of eight interim legislative sessions before the 2020 60-day session.

The agenda for April 30 includes four meetings: Commission on Special Investigations; Post Audits Subcommittee; Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding; Joint Committee on Government and Finance. Meeting times, rooms and agendas are available online at WV Legislative website: wvlegislature.govor at this link: http://www.wvlegislature.gov/committees/interims/intcomsched.cfm?day1=04/30/2019

However, it’s also anticipated the Legislature will announce the dates for the state’s Special Session on Education, possibly in conjunction with the May 20-21 interim meetings. That day would allow the Legislature a month to handle the Special Session before the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Gov. Jim Justice’s proclamation limits the Special Session to education: “First, relating generally to improving, modifying, and making efficiencies to the state’s public education system and employee compensation; and Second, Legislation authorizing and appropriating the expenditure of public funds to pay for the Extraordinary Session.”

When making the proclamation, Justice said, “We still have not achieved what I promised the people of West Virginia — a 5 percent pay raise for all teachers, school service personnel, state troopers, and all state employees. … It’s critically important that we still get there before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2019…”

According to the Governor, the money required to cover the 5 percent raise was included as an unappropriated expense in the FY 2020 budget document, “This means the money is safely stored,” Justice said.

Since the end of the 2019 regular session, school officials and legislators have been conducting meetings around the state in preparation for the Special Session.

The Times West Virginian’s Eddie Trizzino reported April 16, that Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, who is also a retired educator, has joined with senators and delegates in meeting with education leaders and union members statewide to hear their thoughts on education reform should be handled in a special session.

After attending several meetings between lawmakers and educators, Prezioso says he has a clear sense about where teachers stand.

“The No. 1 thing that the boards of education were concerned about… was obtaining quality, certified teachers for the classroom,” Prezioso said. “There is not enough money right now to help one system, why do we want to start two systems? So those are the problems we’re dealing with going into the special session.”

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel’s Steve Allen Adams reported April 11 that West Virginia Department of Education staff members are reviewing the discussions and survey data from the more than 1,600 people who attended the WVDE’s eight education roundtables in Kanawha, Cabell, McDowell, Raleigh, Harrison, Ohio, Wood and Morgan counties.

Those summaries will be given to the governor and lawmakers prior to the Special Session on education.

The interim dates are as follows: April 29-30; May 20; June 17-18; July 22-23; Sept. 23-24; Nov. 18-19; Dec. 16-17; Jan. 6-7, 2020; and Jan. 8, start of 2020 regular session.

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