THE just-completed regular session of the West Virginia Legislature had its share of successes.
The two most notable achievements were both set forth by Gov. Tomblin: reforms in public education and corrections.
The governor and lawmakers came to terms earlier in the session on Senate Bill 359, a comprehensive plan to improve public education. The bill, which the governor has already signed into law, brings some commonsense changes to our schools.
Principals, superintendents and faculty representatives are now free to hire the most qualified teacher, rather than simply the person with the most seniority.
The school year must include 180 days of instruction. (County systems often fall short now.) And all children must be proficient in reading by the third grade.
Senate Bill 371 is a sweeping reform of the state's criminal justice system to relieve overcrowded jails and prisons.
The changes include supervision and substance abuse treatment for inmates when they are released. Additionally, a judge can decide to release a non-violent offender six months early into a supervised program.
The goal is to reduce the high recidivism rate, thus slowing the rapid growth in the state's prison population. The program has worked in Texas, which provided a model for this legislation.
Tomblin deserves credit for proposing new ways to approach old problems, and then sticking to his guns in the face of opposition, particularly on the education reform bill.
However, the session had some notable failures as well.
Nothing of significance happened that will have a direct impact on the state's economy. West Virginia continues on a boom-bust cycle, depending on how coal and natural gas are doing, and currently neither is booming.