RCEA representatives visited the Capitol Monday, February 17 for our county's lobby day at the legislature. The morning began with a briefing from WVEA President Dale Lee, WVEA Executive Director David Haney, and WVEA Assistant Executive Director Kym Randolph at association Headquarters.
Representatives were able to meet with Sen. Roberts, Del. Toney, Del. Pack, Del. Steele, and Del. Cooper. We were able to discuss topics including the proposed elimination of the business inventory tax and personal property taxes, PEIA, the Tebow Bill (allowing home schooled students to participate on public school sports teams), Education Savings Accounts, the limit on the number of days retirees may substitute in a year, vocational and special education, the school calendar, education funding, educator pay, and social and economic issues impacting education, among other things.
We extended thanks to some of the legislators who showed real courage in the past year standing up for teachers, service personnel, students, and public education. These included Delegates Tony Paynter (from neighboring Wyoming County), former Assistant Chair of House Education Mark Deen (an administrator from Mingo County), and retired educator Ruth Rowan (Hampshire County). Our own delegates Mick Bates, Chris Toney, and Roy Cooper have voted with us on public education concerns consistently last session and this. We also ran into State Board of Education President Dave Perry and extended appreciation to the State Superintendent and State Board for listening to the overwhelming public outcry and reversing their recommendation to cut the social studies curriculum in high schools.
Unfortunately, there appears to be no movement in either house on the recommendations from the PEIA Task Force with the proposed PEIA bills. Bills were submitted to make PEIA funding a line item in the state budget, to reword the 80-20 rule so that the state would be required to put in "no less than" 80% of the contributions and employees "no more than" 20%. This change would allow the state to allocate more funding for PEIA without automatically costing employees to put in 20% for every 80% the state put in. The proposed bill would also allow employee premiums, deductibles, and copayments to be counted toward the employee share anytime more money was allocated for PEIA funding.
Candidates for all seats in the Legislature, and for Governor, State Supreme Court, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, and State Auditor have received candidate questionnaires from WVEA and those interested in seeking an endorsement are completing those.
On March 10th, there will be a meeting for all interested RCEA members in the basement at the Raleigh County Board of Education beginning at 4:30 pm to conduct elections for local officers and to attend the state Delegate Assembly in April. This will be followed by a PAC (political action committee) meeting to vote on our recommendations for endorsements for the House of Delegates and State Senate for anyone that would be representing citizens of Raleigh County. All RCEA members are members of the county PAC and are eligible to vote on our county's recommendations for WVEA endorsements.
At the PAC meeting, we will have recommendations voted on by the RCEA PAC Steering Committee and we will also have candidates written responses to the candidate questionnaires available if people have questions about them.
It is important for members, political candidates, and the public to know that according to our bylaws, WVEA can only recommend candidates who complete and return a questionnaire.