Will education be on the agenda?
Many West Virginians have been anticipating a special legislative session on public schools for weeks, since the collapse in early March of efforts to enact an “omnibus education bill.” Now, lawmakers are scheduled to go back to Charleston for a special session beginning Monday.
Education may not be on the agenda.
House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and state Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, set the special session to begin at 2 p.m. Monday. They notified lawmakers in a one-sentence letter that specified only the time and date of the session. Nothing about what will be dealt with was revealed.
Sources at the Capitol have said the session will not deal with education, but with some of the 30 bills passed during the regular session earlier this year, but vetoed by Gov. Jim Justice. Though the governor indicated concerns about the objectives of some bills, others were vetoed for technical reasons. It is common for legislators to correct such problems and resubmit bills to governors.
Democrats in the state Senate appear to be ready to deal with public schools, however. On Tuesday, they released a one-page list of their objectives for a special session on the subject.
Judging from the Democrats’ press release, their goals do not appear particularly controversial. The devil is in the details, however, and wording of bills meant to further their overall aims could provoke arguments.
Though both Republicans and Democrats seem optimistic a package of education bills can be enacted with a minimum of acrimony, controversial issues such as charter schools remain on the table.
While it is not necessary for every legislator to be in full agreement before a special session on schools is convened, a battle over the subject such as the one that occurred last winter would be counterproductive. At least some measure of amity ought to be achieved before lawmakers tackle the matter.
If that means holding off on school-related action until June, so be it.