The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

April 8, 2013

Power shift yields mixed results for GOP

W.Va. leaders blast session as beset by blown opportunities

CHARLESTON — Republicans in West Virginia’s House of Delegates don’t believe their increased numbers amounted to much this session, but they may be selling themselves short.

After the 2012 election brought them within five seats of capturing a majority, GOP delegates kicked off the session in February by heralding an agenda they touted as focused on creating jobs.

But disappointment replaced that enthusiasm on Thursday, following the deadline for House bills to pass to the Senate. Blasting the session as beset by blown opportunities and misplaced priorities, Republicans announced that none of their agenda proposals had crossed over.

“We’ve not seen the bold initiatives and the willingness to work toward true reforms in West Virginia that we need to see,” House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said at a Capitol press conference featuring most of his GOP colleagues.

The Kanawha County Republican blamed the outcome largely on the majority’s leadership. While just one or two seats separate the parties in most of the House’s committees, which bills they consider remains the choice of their Democratic chairs.

“Let’s be clear. We have 46 members. Until we get to 51, we do not set the agenda for the committees,” Armstead said during the press conference. “When a chair of a committee sets that agenda, these bills are not getting on the agenda. They are not getting discussed.”

To House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, the press conference offered more examples of what he called a glass-half-empty attitude among Republican delegates. The Braxton County Democrat cited last month’s passage of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s education measure. Praising that bill’s provisions and its goal of improving public schools, he recounted how several Republicans criticized the bill while announcing they would vote for it.  

“Every time we pass a bill here, we always use it as a building block for the future,” Boggs said Friday. “I think we need to talk about and encourage the people we represent about how we’re taking these positive steps.”

Boggs also said he’s met with Armstead throughout the session, in an effort to find common ground around the session’s bigger issues. Boggs questioned whether other Republican delegates have tried that approach.

“I’m not really sure who they’re going to. They certainly haven’t come to me, many of them,” Boggs said. “It’s important on the committee level that they sit down, cooperatively, with the chairs.”

The failed GOP agenda proposals highlighted at the press conference included a long-sought bid to require drug tests for adults who apply for or receive Temporary Assistance For Needy Families benefits. Its demise reflected some of the partisan tensions in the House this session. Republicans tried to force the measure from the Judiciary Committee, where it had idled. A party-line, 52-46 vote narrowly blocked that from being considered.

The parties also clashed after the defeat of GOP attempts to amend the Democratic governor’s education bill. Republican Delegates Eric Householder of Berkeley County, Cindy Frich of Monongalia County and Joshua Nelson of Boone County objected when Majority Leader Mike Caputo of Marion County sought to have their remarks during the floor debate printed in the House Journal. And House Minority Leader Daryl Cowles of Morgan County snubbed Caputo by refusing to field a question from the majority leader, something typically agreed to as a courtesy.

But the close margins in House committees have at times helped the GOP amend or even defeat measures they oppose. Just hours after their press conference, Republicans on the House roads committee derailed a proposed study of highway funding alternatives through a 12-12 tie vote. Party-line votes later revived and advanced the measure, however.

“I believe we have seen some bills not brought to the floor because of the numbers, and some other bills that have been brought to the floor because of those numbers,” Armstead said.

The House GOP may have influenced the session in other ways as well. Several proposals on their wish list have been borrowed by Democrats this session. Tomblin, for instance, included in his agenda a proposal allowing economic impact statements to accompany pending legislation. GOP delegates have long sought such a measure. The governor’s version unanimously passed the Senate late last month and awaits House Judiciary review.

“To the extent that good policy is the result of our session, or good policy is the result of the election, I personally don’t care who gets credit,” said Delegate Patrick Lane, a Kanawha County Republican. “If it’s a good idea, I think it’s a good idea. ... I think it’s a good (byproduct) because the policy is moving regardless of whose name is attached to it. That’s the most important thing.”

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Pierpont, WVU-Parkersburg enter transfer agreement

    West Virginia University at Parkersburg has signed a transfer agreement with Pierpont Community & Technical College.

    July 30, 2014

  • Repairs set for I-77 tunnel

    Some lanes of an Interstate 77 tunnel along the Virginia-West Virginia border where a truck fire occurred are being rerouted for repairs.

    July 29, 2014

  • Veterans crisis center coming to Clarksburg

    The long delays for veterans seeking medical care at VA hospitals have prompted The American Legion to plan a short-term crisis center in Clarksburg.

    July 29, 2014

  • Weekend tornado confirmed in West Virginia

    The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in Pleasants and Ritchie counties over the weekend.

    July 29, 2014

  • Rahal: Fund VA reform ‘for our veterans’

     On the cusp of Congress’s lengthy summer break, factions sparring over legislation to strengthen health care and funding reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs may have reached a compromise.
    Although final details are still in the works, the top two negotiators, Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., released a joint statement that said they had “made significant progress toward and agreement on legislation to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals.”

    July 29, 2014

  • Attorney general reaches $950,000 settlement with three financial groups

    West Virginia’s attorney general has reached a $950,000 settlement with three companies over allegations of antitrust law violations.

    July 28, 2014

  • Woman convicted in teen’s slaying moved

    A Monongalia County teenager has been transferred to a state prison to complete her sentence for the slaying of another teenager.
    The Lakin Correctional Center near Point Pleasant said Friday Rachel Shoaf has been booked at the Division of Corrections prison. Shoaf turned 18 last month and had been held in a juvenile facility.

    July 26, 2014

  • Board suspends clinic operator’s license

    A West Virginia board Friday suspended the license of the operator of a pain management clinic where investigators found syringes were being reused. It was the second disciplinary action involving the doctor’s license within a decade.

    July 26, 2014

  • Candidates: Leave global warming debate to scientists

    Two West Virginia congressional hopefuls said during their first candidate forum matchup Thursday that the global warming debate is better left to scientists.
    Democrat Nick Casey and Republican Alex Mooney added that other countries should step up in reducing carbon emissions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lawsuit filed over Dirty Girl Mud Run

    A lawsuit has been filed against the producers of a run that was canceled in Charleston in which participants were told they wouldn’t be issued refunds.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads