The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

April 7, 2014

Teacher planning, abortion ban among W.Va. vetoes

CHARLESTON — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed about 200 bills and nixed eight this year, leaving teachers and abortion opponents unsatisfied.

Tomblin earned teachers’ praise by approving their $1,000 raises, but the Democratic governor opted against offering them more freedom in using their planning periods. Teachers backed the proposal that would’ve generally kept principals and administrators from scheduling meetings and assigning other tasks during school day planning times.

In his veto letter, Tomblin said the bill would have blocked collaborative planning efforts among teachers and principals. He argued it would have increased costs for county school boards.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said the opposition was surprising, since Tomblin’s office didn’t indicate any problems while the bill glided through the Legislature. Lee disagreed that the bill would’ve burdened school districts with additional costs to hire more teachers.

“This just gave them the ability to say no to things when it was more important to prepare for their classes,” Lee said.

Pro-life crowds detested Tomblin’s decision to veto a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks gestation. In a fiery election year, the proposal passed the Democratic Legislature overwhelmingly.

Tomblin said state lawyers worried the bill would be unconstitutional. It resembled a law struck down in Arizona that the U.S. Supreme Court later decided not to reconsider. He said the medical community worried about legal penalties that could hinder doctor-patient relationships.

Tomblin later said he would look at another abortion ban if he considered it constitutional.

A handful of other proposals from the March-through-May session were vetoed. Tuesday was the last day to sign or veto bills.

A bid to let some state workers take paid leaves of absence to help during emergencies fell to Tomblin’s veto. Tomblin remarked that the bill doesn’t cover state liability with letting employees enter dangerous areas, among other concerns. He said lawmakers might want to reconsider the bill and add clarity.

Lawmakers cleared a program with tax breaks for technology industries in economically depressed areas, but Tomblin opted against it. Tomblin’s veto called the bill’s goals “admirable,” but pointed out technical and administrative concerns.

Tomblin said another bill would have made the timeframe for making gubernatorial higher education appointments too tight.

Several vetoed proposals simply contained glitches, Tomblin wrote. One would have let medical practitioners give medications to partners of sexually transmitted disease patients more quickly. Another would have let the state police hire additional lawyers. A third bill plagued by technical troubles would’ve provided two free copies of death certificates to families of deceased veterans.

Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin said there aren’t plans to reconsider those bills before the next legislative session in January.

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