The Times West Virginian

June 19, 2013

New speaker’s efforts key in accomplishing ‘great things’

Times West Virginian

— It seems as if the newly elected speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates is eager to hit the ground running.

And that’s good news for our state.

Harrison County Democrat Tim Miley on Tuesday prevailed 53-44 to be named speaker of the House. He defeated House Minority Leader Tim Armstead of Kanawha County during a brief special session convened by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Miley’s election as the new speaker of the House of Delegates reflects a significant regional shift in the state’s legislative branch. He joins Senate President Jeff Kessler of Marshall County as the top leaders of the Legislature in positions long dominated by southern legislators.

Miley, 47, had been Judiciary Committee chairman under former Speaker Rick Thompson, who resigned over the weekend to join Tomblin’s Cabinet as secretary of Veterans’ Assistance. He will preside over the House through the end of 2014, with all 100 seats on the ballot that year. The Legislature holds a regular, 60-day session each year along with monthly interim study meetings during much of the remainder.

Miley’s tasks also include deciding who should chair committees and fill the floor posts of majority leader and majority whip, and he echoed comments from his candidacy that he expected minimal change in those roles.

For now, Miley seems ready to unite both parties in the state’s legislative branch.

“I am honored to be serving as speaker and I truly believe that when we work together we can accomplish great things,” Miley said. “What I think we all share is that our constituents elected us to work to create opportunities for economic success — not only for the adults who voted for us, but also for their children.”

Although Tuesday’s vote was met by some opposition — the state Chamber of Commerce targeted several of Miley’s supporters by seeking to link them to President Barack Obama, and Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, crossed party lines to vote for the GOP nominee, saying he objected to outside groups interfering with the House’s internal affairs after several labor groups endorsed Miley’s candidacy — the new speaker seems ready to take on the role.

One key area? He plans to focus on education and the state’s road and Internet infrastructure, linking both to economic development.

“Quite frankly, access to worldwide information by having access to the Internet is a game changer for West Virginia and, in my opinion, has become as vitally important as water, sewage and good roads,” he said. “Further, we cannot be content with access to the Internet, but we must strive for continued growth toward everyone having access to high-speed Internet capabilities.”

Miley’s focus on education and economic development is encouraging, and his election as the House’s 56th speaker can help propel this state further in the right direction.