We’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2019 legislative session, and we still can’t believe that the vast majority of energy at the Capitol is being spent on legislation that is nothing more than an blatant attempt by Senate President Mitch Carmichael and his Republican leadership team to get back at educators for last year’s successful strike.
As passed by the Senate early this week, the massive Senate Bill 451 tied a proposed 5% pay raise and sick leave benefits for educators, state troopers and all other state employees to countless damaging measures intended to undermine students and teachers, specifically our public teachers unions, such as charter schools, paycheck deception, vouchers and seniority rule changes. They even included an unheard-of stipulation that if the court struck down any portion of the “omnibus” legislation, all measures contained within (most notably the pay raise) would die.
Revenge, pure and simple.
There is, however, some hope. Because of intense pressure from all the Democrats and Labor-endorsed Republicans in the House, a few of the most egregious portions of the bill, such as paycheck deception, were removed before it was presented to the committee. And while Carmichael manipulated Senate rules to produce the bill without any input from a single West Virginian, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw has promised a deliberative process, and has called for a public hearing, which will take place on Monday, Feb. 11, at 8 a.m. If possible, please join other brothers and sisters in public education who will be standing up then in opposition to this bill.
In addition to the “omnibus” SB451, there are a number of other bills alive and moving that are worth mentioning. Here are a few:
* SB 4 – While the overall legislation regarding local control is positive, the bill contains a provision reaffirming so-called “Right to Work,” under municipal Home Rule. Our Labor-endorsed lawmakers are working to amend the bill and remove that provision.
* HB 2441 – Weakens the West Virginia Jobs Act by making payrolls on public projects secret. This could allow corrupt companies to hide records, making it easier for out-of-state companies to bring in out-of-area and undocumented workers on our public construction projects.
* HB 2875 – A supposed “coal mine safety” bill proposed by the coal industry that has raised serious concerns with the United Mine Workers – yet again, an attempt by the Republican legislative leaders to roll back coal mine safety.
One Voice, One Agenda, One Movement!