Good afternoon! As A.A. Milne once said “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” In that spirit, the 85th West Virginia Legislature met last week to open the 2021 Regular Session by organizing and electing officers. Both chambers are now ready to legislate. But first, a short hiatus to allow Gov. Justice to prepare his budget and agenda while the rest of us have more time to invest in masks and hand sanitizer.


Chamber Chatter


House and Senate Convene for Opening Day, Elect Officers


The West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates met last Wednesday at Noon for Opening Day of the 1st Session of the 85th Legislature. Both chambers met for organizational purposes and the election of officers. 

Sen. Donna Boley (R–Pleasants, 03) presided over the beginning of the Senate’s organizational session as the body’s longest continually serving member.


Following the presentation of certified election results by Secretary of State Mac Warner, and the swearing in of newly elected senators by Chief Justice Evan H. Jenkins, members of the Senate nominated and elected Sen. Craig Blair (R–Berkeley, 15) by acclamation to serve as President of the Senate.


Lee Cassis was reelected Senate Clerk, Joseph Freedman was reelected Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and Jeffrey Branham was reelected Doorkeeper. All were unanimously approved.


Delegate Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) was elected as Speaker of the House for the 85th Legislature.


Steve Harrison was re-elected as Clerk of the House of Delegates, Marshall Clay was elected as the Sergeant at Arms, and Robert Stewart was elected the Head Doorkeeper.


All officers were administered the oath of their respective offices by Justice Tim Armstead.


A Joint Assembly of the 85th legislature was held in the House Chamber to receive the certified statewide election returns.


Following the Joint Assembly, the House reconvened to adopt several resolutions relating to expenses, employment and the House and Joint Rules. A summary of these changes can be found below.


The Senate also adopted several resolutions relating to the Senate Rules and other organizational matters. There were no rule changes from the 84th Senate.


Both chambers adjourned until Feb. 10, 2021, at Noon for the start of the First Regular Session of the 85th Legislature.


House Makes Rules Changes to Address Covid-19 Concerns


During the January 13, 2021, organizing session the House of Delegates adopted House Resolution 1 which contains the Rules of the House. This is necessary every two years at the beginning of a new legislature. 

While the bulk of the rules remain unchanged from last session, there were a few changes, some of which are related to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Concerns about the transmission of the virus and the need for social distancing resulted in rule changes to allow the Speaker to designate a place from which a member may vote other than their desk on the floor of the House (Rule 26); facilitate a time for members to make remarks if requested (Rule 65); authorize the Majority Leader and the Speaker Pro Tempore to make all introduction of guests on the behalf of members (Rule 65a); and authorizing public hearings to held utilizing an internet-based platform for video and audio conferencing (Rule 84).


These amendments are only applicable to the 2021 session of the 85th Legislature.


Other notable rules changes include:

·    Removing a limitation on the Speakers authority to designate a member to preside over the House in the Speaker’s absence. Previously, such a designation could not exceed three days without the consent of the House (Rule 8);

·    Grants the Clerk of the House the authority to correct errors and omissions prior to the final printing of legislative documents or publications (Rule 20);

·    Removes language that would have allowed the House to arrange the Special Calendar in lieu of the Committee on Rules (Rule 70);

·    Renames the Committee on Energy the Committee on Energy and Manufacturing and the Committee on Industry and Labor the Committee on Workforce (Rule 76);

·    Provides that a request for a public hearing will require delay of committee proceedings. Requests only require the Chair of the Committee to schedule and announce a hearing prior to consideration of the measure if this does not require a delay of the proposed measure for consideration by his or her committee or prior to the measure being considered for passage on the floor (Rule 84);

·    Removes committee clerks as persons authorized to administer oaths (Rule 84a);

·    Provides for the review of fiscal notes by the newly formed Division of Regulatory and Fiscal Affairs of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance. The Division may provide additional information regarding the fiscal impact of a proposed bill or comment on the sufficiency or accuracy on any fiscal note provided to the House of Delegates. The House Speaker or the Chair of the Finance Committee may also specifically request additional information, comment, or opinion from the Division of Regulatory and Fiscal Affairs (Rules 95 & 95a); and

·    Makes changes to the rule related to the press (Rule 138), including:

·    Limits the privilege of the press gallery and press table to a person who is a professional journalist employed by a recognized media or a recognized press association;

·    A person with press credentials may not lobby or advocate for or against any matter pending before the Legislature;

·    Seating or access to the designated press tables, galleries or seating areas or press gallery is on a first come first served basis or on a rotation agreed upon among members of the press; and

·    Authorizes temporary one-day passes.


Legislative Jargon Explained


Like many organizations, the legislature has developed it own unique lingo to describe its work. Long-time lobbyist Patti Hamilton put together the following handy reference guide to some of the terms you might hear in the halls of the Senate and House. 

Chambers” are the two areas set aside for meetings of the entire membership of the House and Senate (also referred to as “the floor”). “The bill is on the floor” means that it is out of committee and before the entire body of the House or Senate


Christmas Tree” is a bill that has had several amendments added to it. “We had to kill the bill because it got Christmas treed.” (Also called “loving a bill to death”).


Committee Substitute” is an amended version of an introduced bill as recommended by a committee, generally offered when there are numerous amendments or substantial rewriting of an introduced bill (often referred to as a “com sub”).


Concur” is the action of one body in agreeing to or approving a  proposal or action of the other body (as in “the Senate concurs with the House amendments”).


Double Referenced” means a bill is assigned to two committees instead of just one (a bill can also be triple referenced).


Enrolled Bill” is the final version of a bill, as passed by both bodies.


House of Origin” the body in which a bill or resolution is originally introduced.


Journal” is the formal, written record of floor proceedings printed daily by the clerk of each body. The Journal also contains that day’s agenda for the floor session and is available on the legislative website.


Motion to Lie Over” is a motion to consider a bill at the next or a subsequent meeting.


Motion to Postpone Indefinitely” is a motion to delay action on a bill, usually forever. “PPI’d” usually indicates a bill is dead.


Readings” are the three stages a bill must go through on the floor of a chamber; 1st reading is informational; 2nd reading is amendment stage; and 3rd reading is passage stage.


Title” is a concise statement of the contents of a bill; it is a constitutional requirement in West Virginia that the title accurately and completely reflect the content of the bill.


Well” is the round area at the center of the Capitol between the chambers; often used as a meeting place, as in “Meet me at the well.” And the name of this newsletter.


Some of the abbreviations you will see in discussion of Senate and House business include:


SB or HB – Senate Bill or House Bill


SR or HR – Senate or House Resolution


SCR or HCR – Senate or House Concurrent Resolution


SJR or HJR – Senate or House Joint Resolution (Proposed Constitutional Amendments)


Com Sub – Committee Substitute


We have inserted a “Glossary of Terms” link in the Sine Die section below that contains a more comprehensive list of legislative terms.


Beyond the Dome


Community activists fear new WV House rule could stifle public dissent for legislation


By Phil Kabler Staff writer – Charleston-Gazette Mail 

Rules changes adopted by the West Virginia House of Delegates could stifle dissent during the 2021 legislative session, some lobbyists and community activists fear.

“They’ve got the votes to run just about anything up there, while keeping the public out,” Gary Zuckett, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Action Group, said of the changes to rules for public hearings in the House. With 77 of 100 seats, Republicans have a supermajority in the House.

Zuckett is joining other lobbyists and community leaders in drafting a letter to Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, encouraging House leadership to revisit changes to House Rule 84 adopted last week.

Previously, if there were a request for a public hearing on a bill pending before a House committee, the committee chairperson was obligated to hold a public hearing on the matter before the committee could take up the bill.

With the rule change, adopted on a voice vote during last Wednesday’s one-day organizational session, that public hearing may be scheduled at any time up to the bill’s passage vote on the House floor (House Resolution 1).

Continue reading . . .


On the Agenda


January BirthdaysSenator Stephen Baldwin (D – Greenbrier, 10) January 13, 1982; Michael J. Romano (D – Harrison, 12) January 18, 1961; John R. Unger II (D – Berkeley, 16) January 24, 1969; Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D – Ohio, 3) January 5, 1984; and Delegate Dave Pethtel (D – Wetzel, 5) January 28, 1951


2021 Legislative Calendar

Opening Day – January 13, 2021: Assemble to organize by election of officers and open and publish election returns. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)

First Day – February 10, 2021: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)

Twentieth Day – March 1, 2021: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)

Thirty-fifth Day – March 16, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-first Day – March 22, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.

Forty-seventh Day – March 28, 2021: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.

Fiftieth Day – March 31, 2021: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5, paragraph b)

Sixtieth Day – April 10, 2021: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)


Senate Committee Chairs

Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee

Senator Sypolt – Chair

Senator Woodrum – Vice-Chair


Senate Banking and Insurance Committee

Senator Azinger – Chair

Senator Clements – Vice-Chair


Senate Confirmations Committee

Senator Boley – Chair

Senator Takubo – Vice-Chair


Senate Economic Development Committee

Senator Swope – Chair

Senator Martin – Vice-Chair


Senate Education Committee

Senator Rucker – Chair

Senator Karnes – Vice-Chair


Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee

Senator Smith – Chair

Senator Phillips – Vice-Chair


Senate Enrolled Bills Committee

Senator Maynard – Chair

Senator Roberts – Vice-Chair


Senate Finance Committee

Senator Tarr – Chair

Senator Sypolt – Vice-Chair


Senate Government Organization Committee

Senator Maynard – Chair

Senator Swope – Vice-Chair


Senate Health and Human Resources Committee

Senator Maroney – Chair

Senator Grady – Vice-Chair


Senate Interstate Cooperation Committee

Senator Karnes – Chair

Senator Stover – Vice-Chair


Senate Judiciary Committee

Senator Trump – Chair

Senator Weld – Vice-Chair


Senate Military Committee

Senator Weld – Chair

Senator Phillps – Vice-Chair


Senate Natural Resources Committee

Senator Hamilton – Chair

Senator Stover – Vice-Chair


Senate Pensions Committee

Senator Nelson – Chair

Senator Clements – Vice-Chair


Senate Rules Committee

Senator Blair – Chair


Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Senator Clements – Chair

Senator Swope – Vice-Chair


Senate Workforce Committee

Senator Roberts – Chair

Senator Nelson – Vice-Chair


Sine Die