There were smiles and laughter Friday night at the Charleston Marriott as Republicans met for the Lincoln Day Dinner.

West Virginia Republican Party members came together in one place to kick off the 2013 Legislative Session which begins next week.

House Minority Leader Delegate Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) said he is excited about this upcoming session.

“I’m very optimistic about West Virginia and I’m optimistic about where we can be if we adopt the right policies and move forward,” said Armstead.

Armstead said there are some real challenges for our state but there are also a lot of good opportunities as well.

Senate Minority Leader Senator Mike Hall (R-Putnam) is looking forward to those challenges this year.

“I don’t think the majority party is thinking of any new tax increases so we are looking at a pretty rigid budget,” said Hall. ”To me the most exciting thing, interesting thing will be the seriousness the Legislature will take on the education reform issue.”

Hall believes education really needs to be addressed in this legislative session.

Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was the keynote speaker of the dinner.

The event was also a celebration of the Republican Party having control of, for the the first time in 80 years, 46 percent of the House. Armstead said this level of balance will help in this session.

“I think a good bipartisan system and a closer mix between Republicans and Democrats will increase the debate on bills, it will bring new ideas table and so I think it will really help create good, sound policy for West Virginia,” said Armstead.

Armstead believes this session is a great opportunity for both parties to make positive changes.

“We have to create jobs in West Virginia and we have to take some significant steps to improve our education system,” said Armstead. “If we don’t do those then this will be a missed opportunity.”

Armstead said the Republican Party is going to do everything it can to make sure this opportunity is not missed.

The 2013 Regular Legislative Session begins Wednesday at the State Capitol.

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