CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, today announced key members of his leadership team for the upcoming 85th Legislature.
“We’ve had a great team that’s worked collaboratively during the past few years to advance bold ideas to improve our state,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “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.”
House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor; Majority Whip Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; and Assistant Majority Leader Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, will continue in their roles for the upcoming session.
“Amy, Paul and Kayla have been tremendous advocates for conservative principles, and I know they’ll continue to provide strong leadership among our caucus in the coming Legislature,” Speaker Hanshaw said.
“I’m honored to continue serving as Majority Leader in the House,” Majority Leader Summers said. “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. I’m ready to get to work to pass bold, conservative initiatives to benefit all West Virginians.”
“West Virginians sent a strong message in the last election that they believe our caucus has the best vision to improve the state,” Majority Whip Espinosa said. “We have a host of new faces joining our team this year, and they have a lot of fresh ideas to make West Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family. I’m eager to work with them to help shepherd these ideas from concept to reality.”
The following members have been named Assistant Majority Whips for the upcoming session: Delegates 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.
Speaker Hanshaw also announced he is elevating current House Committee on Government Organization Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, to the post of Speaker Pro Tempore, which had previously been held by former Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan.
As Pro Tempore, Howell will preside over floor sessions should the Speaker not be available and provide input as a member of the House leadership team. According to the House Clerk’s office, Howell is the first individual from Mineral County to hold this prestigious position.
“Since he was first elected in 2010, Gary has built a reputation of being a strong voice for conservative values in the Legislature,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “He’s shown that he’s willing to embrace innovative ideas to improve our state and benefit all West Virginians.”
“I’m honored and humbled Speaker Hanshaw has chosen me for this position, and thank him for the ability to serve as a member of his leadership team,” Speaker Pro Tempore Howell said. “I’m eager to get to work to help continue writing West Virginia’s comeback story.”
Delegate Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, has been appointed Majority Caucus Chairwoman during the coming session. In that role, she will help organize and lead caucus meetings and policy discussions among Republican members.
“During her time in office, Dianna has shown a prodigious ability to facilitate discussions, broker compromise, diffuse differences and forge common ground between people who come at an issue from different perspectives,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “With our large and diverse supermajority caucus this year, I believe she will be a tremendous asset for us all.”
In addition to the senior leadership team, Speaker Hanshaw has also appointed chairmen and vice-chairmen for the House’s major committees, which meet most frequently during session: Education, Energy, Finance, Government Organization, Health and Human Resources and Judiciary.
Leadership of the Education, Energy and Finance committees will remain the same during the coming session.
Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, will be chairman of the Education Committee, with Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, R-Putnam, serving 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 this year. Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, will serve as the committee’s vice-chairman.
“As a former vice-chairman, Moore played a vital role in our work to ensure West Virginia has a fair legal climate that attracts job creators,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “He also helped spearhead efforts to reduce legal barriers in our criminal justice system so that rehabilitated individuals experience an easier transition back to being productive members of our society. I know he and Tom will continue to pursue aggressive reforms to ensure our state has the best legal environment possible.”
Delegate Brandon Steele, R-Raleigh, has been named the new chairman of the Committee on Government Organization. Delegate Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, will serve as the committee’s vice-chairman.
“Brandon and Geoff both have a deep passion to ensure our state government is serving its citizens in the best, most-efficient way possible,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “I know they will be strong voices to provide bold leadership on this committee.”
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.
“Delegate Pack has devoted himself wholeheartedly to efforts to reform the state’s foster care system, and I know he still has a tremendous passion to pursue additional improvements in that area,” Speaker Hanshaw said. “Additionally, Dr. Rohrbach has spearheaded initiatives to address our state’s substance abuse crisis. This committee will also be at the forefront of analyzing our pandemic response efforts, and I know they’re ready to get to work to pass additional reforms to help some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Additional leadership for subject-matter committees and other committee membership will be posted on the Legislature’s website in the coming days.
In addition to the leadership positions, Speaker Hanshaw today announced the House of Delegates will be hiring Ann Ali, former managing editor of The State Journal and senior political reporter for West Virginia Media, to be House Communications Director ahead of the 2021 regular session in February.
Ali, who also worked recently as an account executive for Charles Ryan Associates, will be succeeding Jared Hunt, who will be leaving the House in January to pursue a new employment opportunity outside the Legislature.