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Craig Blair

Senate President Craig Blair stands before the chamber on Thursday.

The West Virginia Senate on Wednesday passed 18 bills in the span of a little more than an hour as part of an effort Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said was meant to beat one thread of insanity in the legislative process.

All of the bills the Senate passed during the first day of the 2022 regular legislative session were bills that went through the committee process and passed the Senate last year but ultimately died in the House of Delegates, Blair said.

The Senate voted 18 times to suspend the procedural rules that require three days worth of consideration by lawmakers and ultimately passed the bills.

“This is the first time that we’ve done it this way,” Blair said. “It’s something I’m adamant about doing.”

Blair had talked with House leaders about the Senate’s plans, and he encouraged them to do the same in their chamber.

“It’s not a surprise,” Blair said. “It’s not a bomb that we’re throwing over there. The House is very aware of it and I encouraged them to do the same for us, so that we can pick up where we left off last year basically.”

With House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, leaving the Capitol on Thursday after experiencing possible coronavirus symptoms, there were no plans to take similar action, House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said.

Blair talked with Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, about the plan last week, and Baldwin said Senate Democrats were onboard with the plan.

“I thought it was a good idea just to take a relatively small group of bills that had bipartisan unanimous support last time and, for whatever reason, died in the House,” Baldwin said.

During a lull in activity in the Senate on Wednesday, Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, could be heard talking near a microphone about the procedures with someone off camera to the livestream of Senate proceedings.

“Normally, you don’t jump into the heady issues during the first two days of committee meetings,” Weld said. “So we were looking at stuff we could just get done, and all that stuff was this stuff.”

He likened the legislative process sometimes to being similar to if someone came to fix a water heater at your home at 4 p.m. multiple days in a row, giving them minimal time to get the job done.

“There’s a level of insanity of doing it that way,” Blair said. “So, to bills that we can come together on, that we agreed to over here, we get them moved and moved fast over to the House.”

The Senate and House reconvene at 9 a.m. Friday.

Lacie Pierson covers politics. She can be reached at 304-348-1723 or Follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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