CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Berkeley County senator is the new chair of the powerful West Virginia Senate Finance Committee.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 04) announced the appointment of Majority Whip Craig Blair (R-Berkeley, 15) to the position on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Senate Finance Chair Craig Blair (R-Berkeley)

“He’s very familiar with the budget process. He’s committed in terms of tax expenditures and keeping the budget living within our means. He’s extremely conservative in terms of our responsibilities to the state taxpayer,” Carmichael said.

“I think he’s a great choice.”

Blair, a businessman who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, replaces former Senate Finance Committee Chair Mike Hall (R-Putnam, 04) who took over as Governor Jim Justice’s chief of staff on Monday.

After changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican earlier this month, Justice fired former Chief of Staff Nick Casey. Casey, a former West Virginia Democratic Party chair, claimed his dismissal was directly tied to his political party affiliation.

Prior to his election to the West Virginia Senate, Blair served in the West Virginia House from 2002-2010.

“We had so many other great choices there, but Craig will do the people of West Virginia a tremendous job in this role,” Carmichael predicted.

Carmichael said the other senators who’d expressed interest in the Finance Chair position, Senator Ed Gaunch (R-Kanawha, 08) and Senator Jeff Mullins (R-Raleigh, 09), would continue to serve on the Senate Finance Committee. He called both “amazing assets.”

All legislation dealing with spending or other monetary matters must go through the Senate Finance Committee which is considered one of the top committees in the Senate alongside the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The chair of Senate Judiciary Committee is Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15).

Most recently, Blair has served as chair of the Senate Government Organization Committee.

As of Wednesday, Carmichael said he had not chosen a new chair for that committee.

August interim meetings for state lawmakers wrapped up Wednesday at the State Capitol. The next round of interim meetings is scheduled for Sept. 17-19.

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