Legislature’s leadership team announced

CHARLESTON — House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, has announced his leadership team for the 83rd Legislature, which will convene next week in Charleston.

Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, will continue to serve as majority leader. Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell, will serve as majority whip. Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, has been named speaker pro tempore, and Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, will serve as assistant majority leader.

“We have accomplished a great deal in our first two years of leadership in the Legislature, and we hope to build on that success over the next two years,” Armstead said. “This leadership team is committed to taking bold steps and pursuing policies that will rebuild our economy and improve the quality of life for all West Virginians.”

Cowles, who was first elected to the House in 2006, has served as majority leader for the past two years.

Armstead said Cowles has “provided a steady hand of leadership for the first two years of Republican control and helped to guide major reforms through the legislative process.”

“I am honored to continue serving as majority leader,” Cowles said. “West Virginia faces significant challenges with our economy and budget situation in the coming years, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this leadership team to right-size our state government and promote job creation and growth for our people.”

Miller will fill the majority whip role after serving two years as assistant majority leader.  First elected to the House in 2006, Miller has also for the past six years served as new member coordinator for the Republican caucus, responsible for mentoring freshman delegates.

Armstead said the relationships and skills Miller has developed in that role will benefit her greatly as whip.

“I am honored to accept this position and become the first Republican woman to serve as House majority whip,” Miller said. “I’ve taken a great deal of pride watching our new members grow and step up in their roles in the House and look forward to working with this leadership team and caucus to push legislation that will move West Virginia forward.”

Overington will step into the speaker pro tempore role succeeding Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, who will serve as Energy Committee chairman in the coming session. Anderson will fill the vacancy left by former Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, who retired from legislative service last year.

First elected in 1984, Overington is the longest serving member of the House. Armstead said that institutional knowledge will serve Overington well in the speaker pro tempore role.

“I am excited to accept this position in the speaker’s leadership team,” Overington said. “For three decades, I have fought for conservative principles as a member of the minority in the House of Delegates. It has been gratifying to see many of those ideas become law in the past two years, and I look forward to working as a member of this leadership team to continue passing bold proposals to make our state a better place to live and work.”

O’Neal was first elected to the House in 2010 and served the past two years as majority whip. As assistant majority leader, he will lead floor activities in the absence of the majority leader, as well as work with the leadership team and members to develop, strategize and carry out the majority’s legislative agenda.

Armstead said O’Neal has proven to be an effective and articulate voice in the Republican caucus, and will work with all members to build consensus on major issues.

“I am pleased to accept this position and look forward to working with our caucus to advance our legislative agenda over the next two years,” O’Neal said. “We have taken bold steps over the past two years to improve our state, and I’m optimistic we’ll make even greater reforms in the years to come.”

In addition to these leadership roles, Armstead has appointed committee chairmen and vice-chairmen for the 83rd Legislature. Individual members will receive committee assignments in the coming week.

Among the five major committees, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer; Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer; and Government Organization Committee Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, will all continue in the leadership roles they’ve served in for the past two years.

A breakdown of the Leadership Team and Committee leadership is as follows:

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha

Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan

Majority Whip Carol Miller, R-Cabell

Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley

Assistant Majority Leader John O’Neal, R-Raleigh

2017-18 COMMITTEE CHAIRS AND VICE CHAIRS

EDUCATION

Paul Espinosa, chair

Joe Statler, vice chair

ENERGY

Bill Anderson, chair

Mark Zatezalo, vice chair — Coal

John Kelly, vice chair — Oil and Gas

FINANCE

Eric Nelson, chair

Eric Householder, vice chair

GOVERNMENT

ORGANIZATION

Gary Howell, chair

Lynne Arvon, vice chair

HEALTH AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Joe Ellington, chair

Amy Summers, vice chair

JUDICIARY

John Shott, chair

Roger Hanshaw, vice chair

AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Allen Evans, chair — Agriculture

Roger Romine, vice chair — Agriculture

Bill Hamilton, chair — Natural Resources

George Ambler, vice chair — Natural Resources

BANKING AND INSURANCE

Steve Westfall, chair — Insurance

Brad White, vice chair — Insurance

Cindy Frich, chair – Banking

Jill Upson, vice chair — Banking

ENROLLED BILLS

Roger Hanshaw, chair

Steve Westfall, vice chair

INDUSTRY AND LABOR

Tom Fast, chair

Geoff Foster, vice chair

INTERSTATE

COOPERATION

Erikka Storch, chair

Danny Hamrick, vice chair

PENSIONS AND

RETIREMENT

Ron Walters, chair

Mike Folk, vice chair

POLITICAL

SUBDIVISIONS

Erikka Storch, chair

Saira Blair, vice chair

ROADS AND

TRANSPORTATION

Marty Gearheart, chair

Danny Hamrick, vice chair

RULE-MAKING

REVIEW

Kelli Sobonya, chair

Cindy Frich, vice chair

RULES

Tim Armstead, chair

SELECT

COMMITTEE ON THE

PREVENTION & TREATMENT OF

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Joe Ellington, chair

Kayla Kessinger, vice chair

SENIOR CITIZEN

ISSUES

Ruth Rowan, chair

Matt Rohrbach, vice chair

SMALL BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC

DEVELOPMENT

Jordan Hill, chair

Rick Atkinson, vice chair

VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOMELAND

SECURITY

Jim Butler, chair — Homeland Security

Pat McGeehan, vice chair — Homeland Security

Roy Cooper, chair — Veterans Affairs

Danny Wagner, vice chair — Veterans Affairs

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