CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With just over a month until the regular session for the legislature in West Virginia, those who will have a major impact on the proceedings have been put in place.
On Sunday, a caucus of the 64 Republican members of the West Virginia House of Delegates chose Del. Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) as the next House of Delegates speaker.
The unanimous nomination behind closed doors will become official when the regular session of the legislature begins next month and an official vote between Armstead and the Democrat’s nomination Tim Miley (D-Harrison) is taken in the House to begin the session.
Armstead was honored by the nomination and is happy to be working with the members of the new majority.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “I’m so excited about the opportunities that we have to make our state better. This group of 64 members loves this state. They are willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard. There’s so many things that we can do to make this state better.”
The selection was lauded by all the Republican delegates in attendance as well as representatives from the state GOP.
“Today is a day to celebrate, as we elevate an honorable public servant to lead this body,” said West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas in a news release. “Delegate Armstead has been a fine leader for our Minority. Today, he and our team begin a new era to reset West Virginia for future prosperity.”
Appointments to some of the major leadership positions were solidified during the caucus as well, including:
Majority Leader: Daryl Cowles (R-Morgan)
Assistant Majority Leader: Carol Miller (R-Cabell)
Majority Whip: John O’Neal (R-Raleigh)
Speaker Pro Tem: Bill Anderson (R-Wood)
Finance Chair: Eric Nelson (R-Kanawha)
Judiciary Chair: John Shott (R-Mercer)
Education Chair: Amanda Pasdon (R-Monongalia)
Government Organization Chair: Gary Howell (R-Mineral)
Health Chair: Joe Ellington (R-Mercer)
Energy (Upgraded to a Major Committee) Chair: Woody Ireland (R-Ritchie)
With this team assembled and more leadership roles to be assigned in the future, Armstead said they are excited for January to come.
“We kinda joked a little bit about the word ‘excitement,’ how much we’ve used it since November 4,” he said. “There are a lot of other words, but I think that one really sums it up. There’s energy, excitement and a willingness to get to work, an eagerness to get to work.”
Steve Harrison was nominated to be the new clerk in the House. This position will also be voted on when the session begins.
Later, Republican members of the state Senate, which hold an 18-16 edge, choose Mercer County Senator Bill Cole as the new Senate president in a mid-afternoon caucus.
“I was honored with the nomination to be the next Senate president,” he said.
Senators also were appointed some of the major leadership roles:
Majority Leader: Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson)
President Pro Tem: Donna Boley (R-Pleasants)
Majority WHIP: Daniel Hall (R-Wyoming)
Finance Chair: Mike Hall (R-Putnam)
Judiciary Chair: Charlie Trump (R-Morgan)
Education Chair: Dave Sypolt (R-Preston)
Health and Human Resources Chair: Ryan Ferns (R-Ohio)
Energy, Industry and Mining (upgraded to major committee): Jeff Mullins (R-Raleigh)
Government Organization Chair: Craig Blair (R-Berkeley)
Senator Clark Barnes (R-Randolph) was nominated to serve as the the Senate Clerk. This means Gov. Tomblin must now appoint a replacement to fill the vacancy, choosing from a list submitted by the 15th District Republican Executive Committee.
Now, Cole said, the focus can turn onto how making their ideas –more jobs, in particular– for the state become a reality. He admits it will not be easy.
“While the other guys have had 83 years to do it, I’m sure that we’re going to be tested during the two years,” he said. “I fully expect that. I think that’s fair. If we don’t deliver and deliver measurably, then maybe we should maybe reconsider what we’re doing as well.”
Republicans will have control of both legislative chambers for the first time since the 1930s. Democrats chose their minority leaders Saturday.