West Virginia lawmakers race against the clock to complete legislation | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Photo/WV Legislative Photography – Legislative Technology staff member Sam Rowe prepares bills for passage Thursday in the House of Delegates.

CHARLESTON — With two days to go until the 2022 session of the West Virginia Legislative Assembly ends, the state’s House of Delegates and Senate spent Thursday working on bills to prepare them for passage Saturday. at midnight.

The Senate passed 18 bills at third reading, including 42 at second reading and amendment stage. The Senate also passed an amendment by inserting and deleting Senate Bill 250, the budget bill, in a vote of 32 to 0.

The bill marries the Senate and House version of the budget with an updated budget adjustment letter sent Thursday to the Legislative Assembly by Gov. Jim Justice.

SB 250 sets overall revenue budget for fiscal year 2023 beginning in July at more than $4.635 billion, a decrease of $10 million from budget bills introduced by Governor, House and Senate . The bill left more than $300,000 unaffected. The compromise includes 18 items at the back of the bill that would be funded by excess tax revenue available at the end of the current fiscal year. Excess credits total $1.058 billion.

The House passed 40 bills at third reading in an all-day sitting Thursday. House members had an even bigger agenda for second-reading bills, with 53 on Thursday. However, the packed agenda and lengthy debates raised spirits as morning turned to evening.

The House ended up sending 30 of the 53 second reading bills to the House’s idle schedule to let cooler heads prevail after Del. Kayla Young, D-Kanawha, demanded that all bills be read in their entirety, a parliamentary tactic often used in protest. and a request that cannot be blocked or denied.

Much of the contentious debate in the House has centered on amendments to Senate Bill 268, creating an exemption from compulsory school attendance for children who participate in learning pods and micro-schools; Senate Bill 463, the Child Protection Best Interests Act; and SB 498, the Anti-Racism Act.

SB 498 prohibits teaching that an individual’s moral character derives from his racial identity or that he bears responsibility for acts committed by persons of similar racial origin. It includes protections for free speech, historical discussion, and academic freedom in certain circumstances as long as alternative theories are discussed. It also includes a complaints and appeals process for students, parents and staff to report violations of the provisions of the bill.

A contentious debate erupted Thursday afternoon over a failed amendment proposed to SB 498 by several Democratic delegates led by House Education Committee Minority Chairman Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell.

The amendment would have created the American History Enrichment Act, creating a commission made up of higher education officials, public school history teachers, and teachers representing minority groups. The commission would review existing course materials relating to minority populations and recommend changes.

Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Gary Howell, R-Mineral, was presiding over the House when the amendment was moved, deeming the amendment to be irrelevant to the bill.

Hornbuckle challenged the president’s ruling, which was upheld by a vote of 75 to 21, rejecting the amendment.

“The amendment speaks to the fundamental purpose of the bill before us, regarding the administration of history in our classrooms and the way it is taught,” Hornbuckle said. “Whether you want to vote for the amendment or not, be consistent in our demonstration of democracy.”

“I don’t think that’s relevant,” House Education Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, said. “It’s supposed to be about racism and here it’s about creating a commission on the betterment of American history. That’s a far cry from what this bill was about.

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