CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Monday, an Educational Broadcasting Authority committee voted to lift a hiring and purchasing freeze imposed on West Virginia Public Broadcasting by Education and the Arts Secretary Kay Goodwin.
However, the question is whether the Legislature took that authority away from Education and the Arts as part of a law it passed in 2011.
The primary purpose of the legislation (HB2695) is to provide an exception in the state Ethics law ban that prohibits state employees from soliciting and now allows Public Broadcasting personalities to take part in on-air fundraising campaigns.
However, the legislation also revised the 1989 law that created the seven executive branch departments to oversee all state agencies. That law specified that the EBA is under the Department of Education and the Arts.
The 2011 legislation adds a proviso to that section of the code, stating that Education and the Arts' relationship with EBA is "for purposes of administrative support and liaison with the office of the governor."
Educational Public Broadcasting Executive Director Dennis Adkins said he believes that legislation moved Education and the Arts from having direct authority over EBA to acting in an advisory capacity.
At times on Monday, Adkins bristled as Deputy Secretary Martha McKee went through an item-by-item review of a list of purchase orders and personnel postings that had been frozen, pending Monday's committee meeting.
On Tuesday, House Government Organization Chairman Jim Morgan, D-Cabell, said he had asked committee counsel to verify the Legislature's intent in changing that provision.
"It's a question of who's going to make these decisions," he said of the 2011 law.