With a GOP supermajority in the West Virginia Legislature, there aren’t many changes taking place in terms of leadership, particularly in the House of Delegates, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3 to 1.
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, on Monday announced members of his leadership team, including majority staff and committee chairs, many of whom served in the same or similar positions during the last legislative session.
“We’ve had a great team that’s worked collaboratively during the past few years to advance bold ideas to improve our state,” Hanshaw said in a news release Monday. “I’m confident this team I’m naming today will continue to build upon that success and deliver even greater results for the people of West Virginia.”
Among key changes in the House staff next year will be the person who sends out news releases, as Communications Director Jared Hunt is leaving his position at the end of January.
Ann Ali, who most recently served as campaign manager for Republican Woody Thrasher’s campaign for governor, will take over as communications director beginning Feb. 1.
Ali is the former managing editor of The State Journal and senior political reporter for West Virginia Media. She also worked as an account executive for Charles Ryan Associates before managing Thrasher’s campaign.
House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, will remain in that role for the 2021 legislative session, and Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, will continue at majority whip. Delegate Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, will maintain her position as assistant majority leader, Hanshaw said.
Hanshaw described the trio as being “tremendous advocates for conservative principles.”
Summers said she was honored to continue her service as majority leader.
“We have a tremendous opportunity over the next two years to pass significant, meaningful reforms that will make West Virginia a better place to create jobs and raise a family,” she said. “I’m ready to get to work to pass bold, conservative initiatives to benefit all West Virginians.”
The following delegates have been named assistant majority whips for the upcoming session: Trenton Barnhart, R-Pleasants; Caleb Hanna, R-Nicholas; John Hardy, R-Berkeley; Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha; Riley Keaton, R-Roane; David Kelly, R-Tyler; Daniel Linville, R-Cabell; Larry Pack, R-Kanawha; Chris Phillips, R-Barbour; Johnnie Wamsley, R-Mason; and Evan Worrell, R-Cabell.
Earlier this week, Hanshaw announced Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, will be Speaker Pro Tempore during the upcoming session. Howell previously served as chairman of the House Government Organization Committee.
Howell replaces former Speaker Pro Tempore Daryl Cowles, of Morgan County, who lost his primary race in June.
The Speaker Pro Tempore presides over floor sessions when the Speaker isn’t available and provides input as a member of the House leadership team.
Delegate Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, has been appointed majority caucus chairwoman. In that role, she will help organize and lead caucus meetings and policy discussions among Republican members.
In addition to the senior leadership team, Hanshaw also appointed chairmen and vice-chairmen for the House’s major committees.
Leadership of the Education, Energy and Finance committees will remain the same.
Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, will be chairman of the Education Committee, and Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, R-Putnam, will serve as vice-chairman.
Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, will continue as chairman of the Energy Committee, with Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, serving as vice-chairman.
Delegate Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, will continue as chairman of the Finance Committee, with Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wood, serving as vice-chairman.
Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, who previously served as vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will now be chairman of that committee, replacing former Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, who retired from office. Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, will serve as the committee’s vice-chairman.
Hanshaw appointed Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, as the new chairman of the Committee on Government Organization. Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, will serve as the committee’s vice-chairman.
Delegate Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh, who had previously served as vice-chairman of the Health and Human Resources Committee, will now serve as that committee’s chairman. Delegate Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell, will serve as the committee’s vice-chairman.