CHARLESTON - Gov. Joe Manchin is asking the West Virginia Legislature to revisit some of his bills that stalled during the 60-day regular session.
The governor announced Monday that he will ask lawmakers to reconsider at least three bills, one to provide additional in-school, after-school, or summer school instruction to third and eighth graders who are behind, another to make it easier to develop mountaintop removal sites and a third to give a tax credit to high-tech companies relocating to the state.
The Legislature is returning to Charleston May 26 to complete next year's budget.
Gov. Joe Manchin
Among the Manchin initiatives that could be revisited was a bill to give schools flexibility in meeting the requirement for 180 days of classroom instruction. The House and Senate could not agree on a way to do that and the bill stalled.
Delegate Dan Poling, D-Wood, said he expects most or all of the bills the governor will ask lawmakers to revisit will be those concerning economic development and education.
"I don't think we'll see the school calendar bill, I don't think we'll see bills for alcohol sales on Sunday or any health bills. I think education and economic development is all we'll see. From what I hear, we're a couple hundred million (dollars) short of where we started on the budget. When you look to try to cut a couple hundred million from the budget, it's hard and anything you do costs money," he said.
Delegate Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said he didn't think any of those three bills to be reviewed will meet any major opposition.
"I know I want all those bills, they all three are good bills.On the summer school bill, there is an intensive evaluation at third and eighth grade where you have to make adequate progress. I remember when I saw that bill in finance (committee), I remember thinking 'gosh, I thought it was that way at every grade level, if you don't pass, you have to go to summer school and that kind of stuff," Carmichael said.
Carmichael said the mountaintop-removal-site bill could draw some fire from environmental groups.
"It might see some opposition from environmental groups, although I don't know for the life of me what they'd find wrong with it. The coal bill lets mountaintop removal sites be developed, so we can put windmills or other renewable energy on surfaces previously mined without going through a bunch of special permits," he said.
Carmichael said the Legislature does not necessarily have to be called to special session to revisit those bills.
"What's interesting is that the Legislature extended ourselves, so we can take up any of those bills without the governor calling us into special session," he said.
Another failed executive request was a bill to allow a merit-based system for teacher hiring and promotion.
Carmichael said he would like to see that bill have another chance.
"The merit-based teacher-hiring bill gives authorities more weight in merit selection instead of just going by seniority and I'm a thousand percent in favor of that," he said.
Poling said while he has qualms about mountaintop removal, reclamation is another matter.
"Strip mining itself is a hot topic, it's a tough issue and when you look at all sides, everybody has a valid point. You need to get coal out to sell, it's critical to our economy and if you close a strip mine down, you put people out of work, but at the same time, you spoil the beauty of West Virginia and our tourism. I wish I had the answer, but when we're talking about reclaiming one, anything you can do to spur economic development is a good thing and in a lot of places, that's the only flat land they have. You're taking the devil there and turning it into something good," he said.