CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In exactly one week's time, the governor's public education reform bill (SB359) went from uncertainty to being passed by both houses and headed for his signature.
Call it quintessential Earl Ray Tomblin.
Unlike his predecessor Joe Manchin, who would have been like a bull pushing for the bill (think photo ops at local elementary schools, numerous press conferences, and frequent appearances on the second floor to cajole and/or arm-twist legislators), Tomblin was practically invisible during the process.
Just as he did for years as Senate Finance chairman, then as Senate president, Tomblin's style is to call in interested parties to talk over issues and come up with compromises.
Throughout last week, you'd see groups of three or four going to or from the governor's office ... sometimes legislators, sometimes teachers' union representatives.
Arguably, not the most transparent process, but the results speak for themselves. In 2010, Manchin twice pushed for public ed reform, and twice his efforts came to naught.
Undoubtedly, we'll see the same process at work as Tomblin gets his prison overcrowding bill (SB371) passed into law.
Some may say that both the education and corrections bills address small portions of multi-faceted issues. Indeed, the biggest contributor to prison overcrowding may be the state's draconian sentences for crimes.
However, Tomblin is pragmatic enough (and has been at this game long enough) to know that getting incremental change, session after session, is frequently preferable to no change at all.
Given the threats made over the bill to nullify city gun ordinances (HB2760), I was briefly startled to get word midweek that a senator from the Eastern Panhandle was in the hospital.
However, it wasn't Government Organization Chairman Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, who has been the target of the threats, but Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, who checked into CAMC for surgery to correct a kidney ailment.
Snyder, meanwhile, said the threatening calls and emails have tailed off of late, but is concerned they will gear up again after crossover day on April 3, the last day the Senate can act on Senate bills, and the 50th day of the 60-day session.
Given that Government Organization normally meets only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and given that neither Snyder nor Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, is enthusiastic about the bill, if it isn't on the Gov Org agenda April 9 -- that should be a signal that its chances for passage are in serious doubt.