Thursday, February 11, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The content of the bill is fairly straight forward, County School Boards may set the beginning school date and ending date... this is not the same as leaving the calendar open to allow make of snow days. Rather, the legislation forces counties to establish dates which better suite their individual counties, but with respect to the 200 day work calendar for teachers, the 43 week contract for service personal and May 15 test date for students.
Additionally, in the House Chamber the Governor presented information on Child Protection(CP) legislation. The Gov. has proposed the hiring of 6 additional troopers for the CP Task Force.
And finally, I overheard a young student today as he entered the House of Delegates Chamber for the first time exclaim, "awesome." I agree it is pretty awesome place.
Monday, January 18, 2010
In the east wing home to House member offices labor is meeting with legislators to push for Federal legislation support.
Additionally, some members are showing concern for the Chamber webcasting, mainly non-techie legislators. As I stated earlier webcasting is a new tool, not only for House members but for the general listening public as well. And, like all new tools there is a breaking in period which will eventually allow members to become comfortable with the system.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Caution, resounded clearly as the Governor spoke of the economic challenges ahead. A call to action was given to legislators to move forward in removing drug dealers from our state and finally, protection seemed to bring an emotional discharge from the Governor as he spoke of his desire to protect our young children from predators.
In addition to the above, numerous issues were also discussed and like all past and present Governors many of the details were absent from address. Including how the Governor plans to have students in the classroom for 180 days...no mater what the weather may hold for them.
Like many will say, "the details are in the pudding."
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
As a member of the technology Committee for the past 3 years, I have been fortunate to see firsthand the changes made to internet service across the state and updates to our mapping of taxable land parcels. Although, both have a long ways to go before we can say we provide every resident with internet service or that we know where all parcels are located, none the less, it’s still comforting to know that we as a state are moving in the right direction.
For more years than I can recall, counties and municipalities have cried out for assistance in cataloging land parcels and apart from physically standing on a street corner to ascertain the information little has been done to update our county maps.
While a large portion of the state still relies on field agents to determine whether or not a parcel exists, Parkersburg, WV on the other hand is but one of a few municipalities which generates digital mapping via goggle map or real time fly over’s. As matter fact, the expense in moving to digital mapping has more than paid for itself, as recently discovered parcels are now being taxed and in some cases back taxes are being collected due to this digital system upgrade.
Entering the mapping stage is the opportunity to overlay additional maps that indicate all physical buildings in a given region. The purpose for this additional overlay is numerous, for example, it could be used to identify areas which may be prone to hazard waste, areas which could be classified as a need for additional security, or even used for planning escape routes during an emergency scenario. The benefits are practically limitless.
While we do have the topography issues to overcome, I am confident WV will see full internet service before too much more time passes, however, I am not so sure we will see detailed state wide mapping as numerous communities across the state still prefer the antiquated present system. Unfortunately, this issue may only be resolved with pressure from the legislature to make the switch by a predetermined future date…only time will tell.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Early in my political experience I was appointed to LOCEA, the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability by then Speaker of the House, Bob Kiss, of which my responsibility was to review and recommend any changes associated with education.
One project of note that came before the Commission was the new State History Museum, although not entirely new the museum had been around for more than 100 years when it was determined that a redesign was long overdue.
The design idea was different; create a show path as opposed to the present “find a state artifact and find a place for it.” What you previously had was a disoriented, disassociated mess, whereas, most artifacts lacked signage and relevance to the artifact next to it…of course there were exceptions. The log cabin, general store and 35 Star National flag where and remain some of our states’ prized possessions.
The design plan was simple; create a show path which displays objects in chronological order, beginning with the year 5000 BC and the evolution of coal. Pretty simple, so it would seem, but the project required in excess of $24 million dollars and gutting the present museum in order to make room for the new design.
While many eyebrows were raised with the estimated cost to the project, the design team of four soon went to work reevaluating the project and value engineering every inch of the 25,000 square foot space, which fortunately for all of us brought the project in under $17 million. 2002 marked the beginning of a very lengthy project that would not come to fruition until June 20, 2009 with the grand opening of the new State Museum.
Even if you are not a museum going person this show path of our state’s history is worth the walk, consisting of an 1/8 of a mile walk beginning with 5000 B.C. West Virginia and culminating in visual display of digital information and sights of West Virginia.
The museum walks you through our history creating an overall picture of our roots, our heritage and storied past and yes at times, a violent past. While the corner store, moonshine still, coal wars and military experience are vital to our past, State hood plays central to my museum experience. Perhaps, it’s because I am member of the legislature or maybe something simpler, perhaps it’s the pride I take in being a West Virginian. Either way, I delight in the experience the museum gives me and would strongly encourage anyone to visit the West Virginia State Museum.
What can you look forward to seeing during your visit to the museum? One can’t miss item is the 35 Star National Flag that was flown at Gettysburg during Lincolns Gettysburg Address in November of 1863. Just imagine, we were but a state for 5 months when Lincoln delivered,” Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…” What more can I say?
Other artifacts of interest include; Daniel Boones Long rifle, the first journal of the House of Delegates, Philippi Covered Bridge, a coal mine, log cabin, log fort and over 3,000 additional artifacts and stories.
So I ask you, why stay home this weekend?
The WV State Museum is located in the Charleston Capitol Complex and is open Tuesday through Sunday. 9:00am -5:00pm Admission is free.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Well folks it has been a long time, but I am back again and ready to blog about life in the big House...the House of Delegates for you newbies.
My last blog concluded with the last night of session two years ago at which time we were also moving forward on a new election year across the state and in the House of Delegates camps were being formed for the Speaker's race later in 2006.
As many of you are aware, Richard Thompson finished first in the Speakers' race and as such, leadership changed across the board with new chairperson in all but a few committees.
Many members were more than a little disappointed in the outcome, but life changes and life moves on in the legislature. Many adapt to change others flounder and are soon replaced by voters back home, or others simply opt to leave the legislature all together.
The halls around the capitol are filled when rumors and legitimate stories of interest, I will do my best to keep you comprised of those human interest and insider information that only someone from the inside can provide.
Stay in touch and let me know your thoughts from time to time.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
It may appear to take time to move legislation, and from time to time the legislature does intentionally hold a few bills over for consideration on the last night of session. This action allows the media an opportunity to broadcast the legislature "live and in session," offering many West Virginia’s a seldom seen view of the legislative process. Unfortunately this also lends credibility to the unsubstantiated story that the legislature does nothing until the last week of session. In all honesty, beginning on the fortieth day of session many legislators are held captive in committee rooms, debating the merits of cross over bills from the Senate.
As the session progresses the committee on House Rules selects bills which will be placed on the House calendar for consideration during the last few hours of session, with this selection also comes a few surprises, including last minute amendments, conferee meetings, and the unexpected burst of debate over subjects most likely dear to someone’s heart.
The last night of session is often labeled as "hurry up and wait, "with numerous pieces of legislation delayed for the simple purpose of subjecting it to the bartering that always accompanies the last night. Bartering does occur and as ugly as it may seem deals are often cut during the last few hours of session, subjecting legislation to last minute changes and often a little heartburn for more than one legislator.
The last night of session will also remain a time of reflection for many legislators as we approach the final hour. It has often been compared to graduation and for many legislators it is just that, with numerous members opting not to return to service in the House. Including some of my favorites, Speaker Bob Kiss, Delegate Charles (Charlie) Trump, and one Delegate who will be a favorite of many long after he has left the House . . . the gentleman from Ritchie County, Delegate Otis Legget. We wish them all the best in all in all their endeavors.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Under House rules the motion to "discharge the committee" is not as simple as it sounds and in fact it often implies a contempt and blatant disregard of the committee process by the sponsor. The motion to "discharge the committee" is rarely placed before the House for consideration and when it does occur it is often seen as a last ditch effort to move legislation to floor that would otherwise fail to see the light of day, mush less the Governor’s signature. This procedural motion is not a vote on the particular bill of interest, but rather a method to dispense with the rules of the committee and send the bill of interest to floor for an immediate vote.
Historically, the motion has been unsuccessfully used by both sides of the isle, for obvious reasons. Beginning with the fact that legislators who attempt to use the procedure are often seen as caving to special interest groups. Secondly, with more than three thousand bills introduced each legislative session at what point does the legislature take a stand preventing further consideration of this mass of bills under this procedural motion? Allowing this procedure to move bills to floor is nothing more than a case of sour grapes and would eventually erode the legislative process that we all hold so dear to our hearts. Imagine if you will, lobbyists and constituents state wide lining the hallways in an attempt to pressure legislators to move the above motion, thus generating countless hours of debate over the procedure and not the merits of the bill. This year alone the motion has been brought before the House twice with a combined total of three hours of debate, again not debating the merits of the legislation, but rather the merits or rather lack of merit, regarding the procedural motion itself.
The committee process is in place for variety of reasons, primarily for the protection of our West Virginia residents, allowing it to run it’s due course is a true display of respect and justification for battles fought long ago.
Recently, the legislature passed out two pieces of legislation that dealt with two groups that are at times at odds against each other, but yet a symbiotic relationship exists. As a result of this very relationship, one group cannot exist without the other and so begins the debate. Should the legislature challenge pay raise legislation? Should lobbying groups’ challenge and ultimately oppose another organization’s pay raise effort?
Both questions have been long debated in the hallways and around the cafeteria tables for more years than we can count. As such, each year legislation is proposed by either the Governor or legislative members dealing with pay raises and each year e-mails are plentiful opposing someone else’s pay raise, proclaiming a particular person or a group is undeserving of a pay raise. But, the debate does not end there. It actually spills over into other areas regarding pay raises: including increases for state employees, county officials, and Governor appointees. It has always been the intent of the legislature to act responsibly on behalf of all state employees with regards to the state budget and pay raises. So in lies the confusion with legislative members, because at times when we attempt to act in a manner respective of groups that cannot receive pay raises except through legislative action, we still take it on the chin and are met with opposition.
Allow me pose this question. Why would any group or individual whom has received as many as one, two, or even four pay increases over the past six years oppose another group’s opportunity for economic advancement? Why would any individual in the private sector oppose a pay raise for a state employee whom has no other recourse? I guess all of us can recall a time when someone around us received a pay raise at a time when we may have thought it to be unfounded, but did we actually express this opinion to the person who was closest to the situation and most familiar with the surrounding circumstances.
So the question remains, should outside interest reflect the outcome of another parties pay raise? Are the reasons of those expressing opposition reflect sincerity, jealousy, or simply an overall disgruntled opinion of the legislative process.
I think at this point it is important to remember that a legislative body sits as representatives of all West Virginian’s and should act in a manner that is responsible to all. I ,among many Legislators believe it would be irresponsible and a potential slippery slope to oppose any pay raise package regardless of the recipient.
Monday, March 06, 2006
As the week begins to dwindle down to the final hours of session, committees in both Houses address bills that have passed one House or the other. Although, more than 3000 bills to date have been introduced, the legislature in fact has only considered 250 pieces of legislation; dealing with a variety of issues including tax exemption for farm equipment, teacher pay raises, and a $40 million cost of living supplemental for state retirees’.
With just hours left in session numerous lobbing bodies have taken up residence within the halls of the Capitol in an attempt to get their legislation passed and the fact remains not all lobbyists are as successful as others. In fact, while a few lobbyists are setting up camp other lobbyists are packing their bags hoping that the next session will be a little more promising.
What separates the successful lobbyist from the not so successful lobbyist? Perhaps when push comes to shove and shove often means the difference between successfully getting legislation passed in the final hours. However, when it comes right down to it the single most successful tool in getting legislation passed for both legislator and lobbyists shall remain building relationships under the Capitol dome. While senior Legislators rank highest among all legislators when comparing legislation passed, those individuals having the distinct advantage appear to be both lobbyist and legislators who can a couple longevity and personal skills together in order to effectively impact the legislative process.
Where else can longevity play a vital role? Longevity often comes into play when a constituent contacts a Legislator in order to resolve a problem that may have an impact on a state wide level, but more often than not a constituent needs to resolve a problem at the local level. Over the course of time longevity allows many legislators to develop a data base of contacts and numbers, contacts which can ultimately help resolve local issues without much stress to the folks back home.
You be the judge, should the success of legislator or lobbyist be judged solely by the legislation sponsored or how often he or she can make the media front page? Or, perhaps they should be judged by the success of passed legislation and their sincere commitment to constituents back home? You be the judge.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
In a much welcome act that caught both labor groups and House members off guard, Speaker Kiss and others offered an amendment to address the long debated PEA problem.
House members late Wednesday evening voted unanimously to amend HB 4654 to include the following language . . . "Provided that the aggregate premium cost-sharing percentages between employers and employees scheduled to be at a level of twenty percent for employees by the first day of July two-thousand six shall be offset, in part by the legislative appropriations for that purpose, prior to the first day of July two-thousand six."
In essence the legislation proposed will fund the twenty percent level of employees enrolled in Public Employees Insurance Agency. The anticipated cost to the state is believed to be between $8-14 million, with funding appropriations from current revenue surplus.
The bill as amended now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Cost of living adjustment H.B. 4846 passes the House, the bill provides for a one time supplement of three percent to be paid to all annuitants of the Public Employees’ Retirement and Teachers’ retirement Systems that are age seventy or older and retired for five years or more on July 1, 2006 or are the beneficiaries of a deceased member who would have been seventy and retired for more than five years on July 1, 2006. The legislation dedicates $10 million of corporate net income tax revenue in each fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009 to fund a total supplement of $30million over the three year period.The legislation captures $10 million annually from the Capital Company Act tax credits fund for each fiscal year 2007, 20068, and 2009.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
After several hours of debate, the House minimum wage legislation passes with only ten dissenting votes. The intent of the current legislation would be to increase the minimum wage over the course of three years to $7.25 an hour, while linking the increase to any future federal legislation addressing the same issue. HB 4023 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
IN SEARCH OF BARNEY FIFE
Some years ago, as part of a college English class assignment the class was asked to define late night television and such my assignment meant some self imposed t.v. time. Never one to forgo the extensive hours needed for any research assignment and especially an assignment of such magnitude I quickly found myself engulfed in pop culture to an overwhelming degree. So much so that I could not possibly define television in terms suitable for publication, much less a document suitable for grading.
This being said, and at the prompting of many students the Professor reluctantly allowed a little flexibility within the proposed assignment, allowing many students to narrow their research to an era or even specific genre of television. Pushing the assignment envelope I decided to focus my efforts on the character that best represented the human condition, one character which can be found in each of us . . . so began my unknowing search for Barney Fife.
Whether it is the familiarity with late night television or possibly one who has had the opportunity to experience Andy Griffith and Mayberry in its original time slot, Mayberry is and will always be a household word. Creating a vision of americana which may or may not have existed in reality, but certainly exsisited in the minds and hearts of millions of American’s: offering up a warm familiar feeling with each episode and at times removing us from the uncertainties of daily life. While certainly, the endearing character of each town citizen lent itself well to the daily events within this small rural community; seemingly one well-meaning character with an often square peg personality seemed to perfect a normal fit within a world of circles.
While we accept character as a means to generalize unique personalities, we also seem to identify with personalities that are similar in nature to our own and perhaps a side of our own personality that we would prefer to hide from watchful eyes. Perhaps, a part of our personalities that on the surface appears to be quirky, but to family and friends is often perceived as endearing. Whether it is the fumbling of general daily tasks, or an overzealous mind set to rules and procedures, or just an extreme emotional behavior during heighten times of anxiety, we all to often see a little of ourselves in Barney Fife.
Barney Fife as a character was the all familiar modern day Charlie Chaplin, delivering a clown like performance of apprehensiveness, pathetical, and sincerity all within a multilayered yarn ball of humility. Certainly these character traits cannot go unnoticed when we begin to explore our own multi layered personalities, although abrasive in singularity; yet as a whole, these traits define who we are and just maybe, who we want to be. Episode after episode, Barney, Mr. Knotts, made acceptance of our own human frailties more palatable while allowing us to accept our neighbor’s shortcomings a little easier. In short, just as Barney the character struggled within his own shell of emotions and virtues; so goes the human condition.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
House Education Committee passes a teacher pay raise bill, effective July 1, 2006 the purpose of this bill is to increase beginning teachers’ salaries. The bill as it leaves the committee provides that no teacher would receive a salary less than the amount prescribed on the applicable state minimum salary schedule for a teacher with three years experience and will progress one step on the experience every year thereafter. Every year thereafter each teacher will advance one step on the experience scale regardless of his or her actual years of experience.
The original intent of the legislation is to aid in recruitment of teachers here in West Virginia and provide up to an additional $2600 for new teaching positions.
Sponsors of the bill include both Delegate Bob Beach-D Monongalia County, Delegate Charlene Marshall-D Monongalia County, and Delegate Mary Poling-D Barbour County.
Friday, February 10, 2006
As the legislature approaches the 30-day mark, numerous issues have been addressed and referred to the other House for consideration, including priority issues such as personal property tax exemption for farm equipment and livestock, eminent domain legislation limiting the use of eminent domain to obtain private property for private use and economic development activities.
Other issues of interest include a table game referendum. Bottle bill permitting the return of plastic bottles for a 10-cent refund, and the "Metro Government" bill. The later will addressed in further detail in this blog location once it reaches the House. The bill in its current form does not allow for a separate vote for unincorporated and rural areas and must be watched closely. The bottle bill has been a long time in the making. Several versions have been introduced over past six years, having met opposition by both bottlers and various municipalities.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Although members of the House of Delegates have access to computers and can stay current with changes to legislation, the general public and lobbyist visiting the Capitol must still rely on updated hard copies as they become available.
Pictured here, staff replenishes various pieces of legislation on a regular basis. Visitors to the Capitol can get copies of legislation of interest by stopping by the Bill Journal room located off the rotunda in the lower level of the Capitol.
News Correspondents and Reporters: Any person accorded the privilege of the press gallery or press table must be a news correspondent or reporter for a newspaper, a radio or television station, or of a recognized press association . . . no more than one representative of each shall be admitted to the press table or press gallery at one time.
Members of the media have limited privileges of the floor as seen here, Mannix Porterfield a reporter with the Herald Standard newspaper in Beckley interviews Delegate Ron Thompson-D Raleigh County prior to the floor session, but members of the media may not visit members in their seats during a session of the House. Those members of the media who fail to abide by the rules of the House are subject to revocation of their press credentials and privileges of the floor.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Resolutions primarily deal with the recognition of an individual, organization, or region of the state, and are typically introduced by the representative(s) of the particular region.
Resolutions of the past have often dealt with recognizing a previous member of the House that has passed and sometimes resolutions are introduced in recognition of an individual or organization that has made a contribution to the community.
Presently, in today’s House, resolutions go well beyond the honorary bridge or highway dedication. In fact, today’s legislature gives more attention to resolutions that are focused on potential economic benefits. Currently introduced, but yet to be considered by the full House is a resolution that deals with dedicating a section of old Rt.19 in Oak Hill WV as the "Hank Williams, Sr. Byway," which will correlate with the opening of the Hank Williams, Sr. museum located in Oak Hill. Local Fayette County officials feel that this may spur destination travel to Oak Hill, especially by fans of the late country music entertainer. ( F.Y.I., the famed musician died in Oak Hill)
My favorite resolution thus far this session is a resolution that recognizes "Bluegrass as the States Official Music." Marketing our states heritage has become the norm in West Virginia rather than the exception, as seen in Gassaway, West Virginia. Whereas, this sleepy little town as begun to promote itself as the bluegrass center of the world establishing the Bluegrass Preservation Society, a 501-c-(3) organization, dedicated to the preservation of bluegrass music. As an extension of the Bluegrass Society one can hear bluegrass music from across the state via radio or pod cast, featuring only West Virginia talent every Sunday morning and Sunday evening.
Also up for consideration is a resolution that recognizes the second Tuesday of May and the second Tuesday of November; election days as "Blood Donor Days" in an attempt to increase blood donor awareness on a very civic minded day as well.
Resolutions can be difficult for constituents to follow, not to mention understanding the process. To learn more about the resolution process and to get a complete copy of the resolutions mentioned here log into the West Virginia Legislative link found on this page.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Yes, it is true. The Speaker of the House Bob Kiss will step down after nineteen years in the House of Delegates: catching many off guard with his announcement this past weekend.
Long speculated by various groups outside the "beltway" that the Speaker would indeed seek one more term, this oversight on the part of many lobbyists has left many scattering for cover as the race for the next Speaker heats up.
Although considered too early to speculate, there already appears to be an odd on favorite as rumors begin to circulate and as polls begin to populate the web. The outcome will certainly be determined by a long laundry list of scenarios; including whom gets reelected, who steps down to seek other offices in their home communities, and the role lobbyist will play. The later(lobbyist) will certainly play a key role in the outcome, as they have in the past; prompting numerous trades, economic, and environmental organizations to begin polling legislative members in order to predetermine the outcome of this race.
One or two organizations around the State as part of the endorsement process has even added the following to their survey questions. "As candidate for office are you willing to endorse a candidate for Speaker as recommended by this committee?" Please note, that this line of questioning is common, the language has in fact appeared as the last question on most labor surveys for many years.
I would be remised if I failed to mention the importance of the next Speaker of the House.
Hinging on this race is the continued economic growth here in West Virginia, with more than 8100 new jobs created in the past year. Not to mention improved mine safety measures, debt reduction, fresh water through infrastructure legislation, and future pay equity for all state employees; these issues among numerous other issues should not be taken lightly nor can we allow ourselves to reverse the successes of the past.
Above all, the next Speaker must be one of vision, with limited ties to special interest groups, certainly a candidate can be endorsed by numerous organizations, but in the final analysis the Speaker must have strong understanding of all special interest groups with bias toward none
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Ray Canterbury, Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, 28th District. An internet entrepreneur from Ronceverte, Greenbrier County, Delegate Ray Canterbury has served as a Member of the House of Delegates since first being elected in 2000. The delegate is a member of the West Virginia Farm Bureau, West Virginia Forestry Association, the NRA, the Eastern Greenbrier Jaycees and has recently obtained his real estate license. Delegate Canterbury serves as the Banking Minority Vice-Chair. He currently serves as a member on the Committee on Education, the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
Beginning in 1961, the Houses of Delegates created, and amended several times thereafter, rule 137 that prohibits a lobbyist from attempting to influence the vote or opinion of House members during legislative sessions. More recently this rule has become applicable to a lobbyist even at times when the House stands in recess and adjournment. Whereas, with the recent introduction of computers to the House Chamber a large majority of House members spend a great deal of time on the floor preparing for debate, developing legislation, or maintaining a connection with their respective districts.
It is the responsibility of the Door Keepers and Sargent of Arms to maintain the rules of the House, and as such lobbyists who engage in debate with House members are subject to removal from the Chamber and may be debarred for the remainder of a session. Additionally, any employees who shall, at any time, engage in such activity shall be subject to immediate dismissal. (HR 2, Reg.Session1961) Amended, 1961, 1963, 1967
Monday, January 23, 2006
GOVERNOR SPEAKS TO JOINT SESSION OF LEGISLATURE
Today on the House floor members were met by the Governor in a rare appearance before both Houses and Senate in a joint meeting in the House chamber. The Governor and Governor’s staff outlined the proposed mine safety legislation which will be reviewed and considered by both Houses before days end.
The Governor speaking first, described the past two mine disasters as a very surreal experience, painting a picture of the similar circumstances and surrounding environment between the two mining locations.
The Governors staff stood for question and offered a more defined presentation of the proposed legislation.
SPEAKER STEPS DOWN
Speaking from the floor today . . . Speaker of the House, Bob Kiss D-Raleigh County left the podium on a rare occasion to speak from the floor regarding a recently published newspaper article that made unfounded claims regarding his Raleigh County residency. The Speaker further chastised the press for exposing the location of the Day Care that his sons currently attend, as well as the "so called expert" attorney that provided the unfounded information to the press. Never naming the writer, newspaper or Attorney, the Speaker however, made it quite clear that he nor any member should be subjected too false media.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Oce Smith, from Fairmont, Marion County, currently serves as Sergeant at Arms for the West Virginia House of Delegates. Once designated as a Distinguished West Virginian, Mr. Smith has served in various capacities in and around Marion County including a writer for a local Marion County paper. Mr. Smith was elected to the Sergeant at Arms post at the beginning of the 58th Legislature and has been reelected in every Legislature since then, now serving as the 43rd Sergeant at Arms of the House of Delegates. Mr. Smith holds the distinction as the longest serving legislative officer in the United States.
Throughout his thirty plus years of service Mr. Smith has had the opportunity to meet and socialize with some of the greatest political minds of any generation: such as President John F. Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Robert C. Byrd, and Senator Jennings Randolph to name but a few. In 2003 the West Virginia House of Delegates recognized and honored Mr. Smith's service to the legislature by dedicating a Marion County historic-covered bridge in his honor. Those in attendance for the dedication included the late A. James Manchin, former Delegate Donna Renner of Marion county and Monongalia County Delegate Bob Beach.
Those who desire to visit the Capitol should make a point to stop by the Sergeant at Arms office located off the main corridor between the House and Senate chambers; once in the office visitors will be treated to an array of photos documenting the life and times of our distinguished Sargent at Arms. While visiting perhaps Mr. Smith could be encouraged to share a story or two about his numerous experiences associated with serving the legislature and the history behind the many photos.
Mr. Smith pictured here(with glasses), performing one of his many responsibilities in the House; escorting Governor Manchin to the Speakers podium to deliver the 2006 State of the State Address.
One final note, recently Mr. Smith was injured in an auto accident while returning to Charleston, although the injuries are not life threatening, Mr. Smith will undergo physical therapy for the next several weeks before returning to active service. Get well cards may be sent to Oce Smith, Sergeant at Arms, 1900 Kanawha Blvd, Building One, Charleston WV 25305.
Get well soon Oce, your friends and family: The West Virginia House of Delegates.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Did you know that in addition to the Constitution, Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates must also follow 143 different rules that dictate the actions of its members and the business of the House floor proceedings?
Under a little known House Rule, all members are required to vote on all issues that are presented to the members, with one exception . . . House Rule 49. House Rule 49 allows the Speaker of the House to excuse a member from voting if a member has a direct personal or pecuniary interest on the question (bill) before the members. The disqualifying interest must be such as effects the member directly and not one of a class. Said exception is given by the Speaker, but only if the request is formally placed (announced)before the members prior to voting.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
As determined by House rules, Wednesday in the House of Delegates is the one day of the week that minor committees meet. Legislation is still subject to the full committee process as it does in major committees, often facing heated debate and amendments if any. Early in the committee process, committees request an annual update from various organizational department heads that come under the jurisdiction of a particular committee, as the session progress’ bills are brought before the committee for consideration. More times than not legislation evolves from the various committee presentations, because this reporting measure occurs early in session; time is still sufficient, thus allowing for lengthy bill drafting measures and careful review by the committee.
Charles S. Trump IV, Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, 51st District. An attorney from Berkeley Springs, Morgan County, Delegate Charles Trump IV has served as a Member of the House of Delegates since first being elected in 1992. Delegate Trump served as the Minority Whip in the 72nd and 73rd Legislative Sessions. Since the 74th Legislative Session, Delegate Trump has held his current rank as House Minority Leader. He also serves as a member to the Committee on Government Organization and House Rules.
Delegate Trump is one of several Legislators that have chosen not to run in the next 2006 legislative races; citing the lack of available time that could be devoted to his family and law practice as the principal reason for his departure from the House. Regarded as gentleman and statesman among his peers, Delegate "Charlie" Trump is, but one of a handful of legislative members that have garnered respect from both sides of the isle. Charlie will be remembered for his quick wit, his annual tribute to Abraham Lincoln, and as a fierce defender of our democratic system; his presence will be truly missed.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
As part of the House floor opening ceremonies each day the House typically receives and recognizes various groups from across the state of West Virginia, appearing on the floor today were children from the Cabell/Putnam YMCA organization, who lead House members in a salute to the flag. Prior groups on the floor have included Morgantown High School Choir, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and children from the School of the Deaf and Blind located in Romney West Virginia.
Scott G. Varner, Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, 4th District. A vocational administrator from Moundsville, Marshall County, Delegate Scott Varner has served as a Member of the House of Delegates since first elected in 1992. Delegate Varner served as Vice-Chairman to the Committee on Government Organization during the 72nd Legislative Session and has served as Majority Whip during the 73rd, 74th, 75th, 76th and the current 77th Legislative Session. He also serves as a member to the Committee on Constitutional Revision, Political Subdivisions, House Rules, Finance and Enrolled Bills.
Monday, January 16, 2006
I HAVE A DREAM
Speaking from the floor today . . . former Delegate Arley Johnson of Cabell County, stands before the House as he shares Martin Luther Kings speech "I Have a Dream." Delegate Johnson, consistent with years past delivers the speech in a manner reminiscent of the late Dr. King.
It is important to note that prior to delivering the "I Have a Dream"speech, Del. Johnson dedicated today’s rendition to out going House Minority Leader Charlie Trump R-Berkeley County; the dedication was met with a standing ovation.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Speaking from the floor Thursday . . . Delegate Bill Hamilton R-Upshur County 39th District delivered a passionate, but difficult speech today regarding the Sago Mine Disaster and his immediate relationship with one miner's family. Delegate Hamilton while fighting back tears informed Delegates in attendance that beyond the the usual small community ties, one miner was in fact his best friend. As the House Delegation sat quietly, Delegate Hamilton went on to discuss the circumstances surrounding the miscommunication; he relayed the facts of the evening and wanted everyone to know that he was with the Governor in the church that evening when the misinformation began to circulate. Citing both the look of surprise on the Governors face as the information reached their ears and the comments made by the Governor. The Governor was quoted as saying, "we need to get up to the mine face and confirm the news".
Before ending his comments on the floor Delegate Hamilton took the time to chastise Fox cable news service regarding the way "Geraldo" performed his job that evening and referring to Geraldo as nothing more than an "actor".
When completed, Delegate Virginia Mahan D- Raleigh County requested the comments of the gentleman of the 39th be recorded in the journal.
In recent years numerous organizations from across the state in all 55 counties have been the recipient of the Budget Digest, a process where 501-c(3) organizations can submit applications to receive state appropriations. The process to date has been very simple, where representatives receive applications from respective groups in their home districts; one page applications that include the purpose for the request and their federal tax identification number. The applications are then submitted to the Committee on Finance, attached with a list of priorities ranking projects of interest on a 1- 10 scale. The applications are reviewed by a bi-partisan committee made up of members of both Houses. Benefactors of budget digest monies typically have included, but not limited to, civic organizations, senior organizations, schools, and municipal governments.
To date the process has been met by mixed reviews , but well received by the beneficiaries of budget digest monies in all counties; that being said, it appears the process may see significant changes and/or eliminated completely. Speaker Kiss will be meeting with Senate President Tomblin and legislators in the weeks to come gathering feedback in an attempt to determine the fate of budget digests.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
NEW ROAD SIGNS?
Included in the Governor's State of the State Address was the unveiling of new road signs that will appear throughout West Virginia. The signs as seen here include a picturesque scene of West Virginia and words proudly proclaiming; "WEST VIRGINIA OPEN FOR BUSINESS".
Delegates in photo, Cliff Moore(D)McDowell County and Harry K. White(D) of Mingo County County.
Delegate Dave Perry (D) Fayette County, and Delegate Bob Beach(D) Monongalia County host annual breakfast for House legislators and staff. This years event is sponsored by the West Virginia Farm Bureau.
Delegate appearing in photo, Sharon Spencer(D) Kanawha County.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
TODAYS SESSION BEGAN WEEKS AGO
Preparation begins for the Governors State of the State Address, as House Doorkeepers assemble to add extra seating to the House Delegates Chamber for the Governor’s Address. Seating is planned weeks in advance of the Address with organizations and individuals contacting representatives in their home regions for available tickets for both the Chamber floor and in the Chamber gallery. Doorkeepers must also address the challenges that occur as public television crews work to establish camera positions and add additional lighting to the galleries and the House Chamber. John Roberts, Head Doorkeeper for the House, "understands that preplanning is key to a smooth State of the State Address" and notes that "representatives are allowed only two tickets for the floor and four tickets for the gallery and can cause a little stress for Delegates who receive numerous requests for tickets."
Although much preparation is needed for tonight, the 2006 legislative session actually began today shortly after 12:00 noon as dictated by the West Virginia State Constitution. In addition to the time, the State Constitution also mandates that session begin on the second Tuesday of January each year and each respective House must notify our Excellency the Governor that we are in session and ready to begin the States business.
Monday, January 09, 2006
DELEGATES PREPARE FOR 2006 SESSION
Taking advantage of the calm before the storm, Delegate Mike Porter (R) of Mercer County and Delegate Patti Schoen (R) of Putnam County researches 2006 bills introduced via the House information system. The West Virginia House of Delegates in 2004 went to a fully automated computer system replacing the old paper trail that is currently in use in the Senate. As of 2004, bills introduced in both Houses can be tracked throughout the legislative process, giving legislators the opportunity to follow their respective bills as they proceed through the legislative process. Numerous updates have been made over the four-year period including the ability to track voting records regarding various issues.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
WEST VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES PAGE PROGRAM
Delegates from across West Virginia agree, the West Virginia House Page Program has become an integral part of the Legislative process and has become a communications link between the Members of the House of Delegates and our young students.
Beginning in January and throughout the sixty day legislative session the West Virginia Page Program affords students from West Virginia's public and nonpublic schools, an opportunity to serve in a non-partisan capacity as Page in the West Virginia House of Delegates during the legislative session. The program provides students with a meaningful and exciting experience in state government, including an opportunity to experience first hand the role their legislators play and their influence in effecting positive change in the state. The Capitol is often seen by state educators as a large classroom, and as such serving as a Page is an excused absence from school, however it is a requirement that each student must learn something in the process and report back to their classroom. It is strongly encouraged that all students arrive early to the capitol in order to experience the entire legislative process, which includes meeting other students from across the state of West Virginia.
Although, the legislative sessions are typical fast paced with many members leaving the floor for their next committee meeting as soon as the gavel is sounded for adjournment, unless it is unavoidable most Delegates schedule time to remain on the floor after adjournment for photos and conversation with the students and family members from their respected region.
To become a Page for the West Virginia House of Delegates you should contact your House of Delegates Member prior to January 31, 2006. He/she will coordinate with the Page Director and choose the best date for you to serve.
Although the Legislature may appear to be out of session in Charleston, work still continues back home. The term part time legislature can be somewhat misleading, the fallacy that some residents buy into is that all legislative work is only performed within the Capitol walls, in reality a majority of legislators continue to meet with constituents and constituent groups on a regular basis ironing out local problems and planning for the next regular session. The weeks, even months leading up to the regular session is often filled with planning sessions, drafting and redrafting legislation, and corresponding with central bill drafting in Charleston in an effort to have legislation prepared in time to be introduced early in session, rather then later.
Additionally, just this past year 2006 legislative days far exceeded the 60 day regular session and the additional 24 day interim session as mandated by state constitution. All in all, the West Virginia legislature spent 102 days in active service in 2006. However, this number is not the record, during the Wise administration the Legislature in 2001 spent in excess of 120 days in active service. An interesting fact to note is that both West Virginia 2001 and 2005 legislative days in office exceeded our full time legislative neighbors to the north . . . Pennsylvania.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
RESTORED CAPITOL DOME
Dedicated Oct. 2005
After an extensive two year restoration project, which included a departure from the full gold leaf dome from yesteryear the dome was finally unveiled this past fall, included in the project was a replacement of various substructure elements.
It appears that while legislative members have returned home to enjoy the holidays with friends and family the House of Delegates Chamber has taken on a new look for the 2006 legislative session. Gone are the loud almost offensive colors of the past, visitors to the Capitol will now enjoy subtle colors of gold and blue as seen in this photo, resembling the color palate as first suggested by the Capitol Architect, Cass Gilbert. Along with the House Chamber numerous additional changes have taken place throughout the Capitol in recent months, including the new Capitol Dome which still receives mixed reviews and the long overdue overhaul of the capitol roofing system. Recent visitors to the Capitol will remember the loose plaster that was seen throughout the Capitol including the House Chamber damage that was caused by water damage and years of neglect.