CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, today announced his leadership team for the 83rd Legislature, which will convene next week in Charleston.
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, will continue to serve as Majority Leader. Delegate Carol Miller, R-Cabell, will serve as Majority Whip. Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, has been named Speaker Pro Tempore, and Delegate John O’Neal, R-Raleigh, will serve as Assistant Majority Leader.
“We have accomplished a great deal in our first two years of leadership in the Legislature, and we hope to build on that success over the next two years,” Speaker Armstead said. “This leadership team is committed to taking bold steps and pursuing policies that will rebuild our economy and improve the quality of life for all West Virginians.”
Cowles, who was first elected to the House in 2006, has served as Majority Leader for the past two years. Speaker Armstead said Cowles has “provided a steady hand of leadership for the first two years of Republican control and helped to guide major reforms through the legislative process.”
“I am honored to continue serving as Majority Leader,” Cowles said. “West Virginia faces significant challenges with our economy and budget situation in the coming years, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this leadership team to right-size our state government and promote job creation and growth for our people.”
Miller will fill the Majority Whip role after serving two years as Assistant Majority Leader. First elected to the House in 2006, Miller has also for the past six years served as New Member Coordinator for the Republican caucus, responsible for mentoring freshman delegates. Speaker Armstead said the relationships and skills Miller has developed in that role will benefit her greatly as Whip.
“I am honored to accept this position and become the first Republican woman to serve as House Majority Whip,” Miller said. “I’ve taken a great deal of pride watching our new members grow and step up in their roles in the House and look forward to working with this leadership team and caucus to push legislation that will move West Virginia forward.”
Overington will step into the Speaker Pro Tempore role succeeding Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, who will serve as Energy Committee Chairman in the coming session. First elected in 1984, Overington is the longest serving member of the House. Speaker Armstead said that institutional knowledge will serve Overington well in the Speaker Pro Tempore role.
“I am excited to accept this position in the Speaker’s leadership team,” Overington said. “For three decades, I have fought for conservative principles as a member of the minority in the House of Delegates. It has been gratifying to see many of those ideas become law in the past two years, and I look forward to working as a member of this leadership team to continue passing bold proposals to make our state a better place to live and work.”
O’Neal was first elected to the House in 2010 and served the past two years as Majority Whip. As Assistant Majority Leader, he will lead floor activities in the absence of the Majority Leader, as well as work with the leadership team and members to develop, strategize and carry out the Majority’s legislative agenda. Speaker Armstead said O’Neal has proven to be an effective and articulate voice in the Republican caucus, and will work with all members to build consensus on major issues.
“I am pleased to accept this position and look forward to working with our caucus to advance our legislative agenda over the next two years,” O’Neal said. “We have taken bold steps over the past two years to improve our state, and I’m optimistic we’ll make even greater reforms in the years to come.”
In addition to these leadership roles, Speaker Armstead has appointed committee chairmen and vice-chairmen for the 83rd Legislature. Individual members will receive committee assignments in the coming week.
Among the six major committees, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer; Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; Education Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Joe Ellington, R-Mercer; and Government Organization Committee Chairman Gary Howell, R-Mineral, will all continue in the leadership roles they’ve served in for the past two years.
Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, will serve as Chairman of the Energy Committee, filling the vacancy left by former Delegate Woody Ireland, R-Ritchie, who retired from legislative service last year.
A breakdown of the Leadership Team and Committee leadership is as follows:
LEADERSHIP TEAM: Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha
Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan
Majority Whip Carol Miller, R-Cabell
Speaker Pro Tempore John Overington, R-Berkeley
Assistant Majority Leader John O'Neal, R-Raleigh
2017-18 COMMITTEE CHAIRS AND VICE CHAIRS:
Paul Espinosa, Chair
Joe Statler, Vice Chair
Bill Anderson, Chair
Mark Zatezalo, Vice Chair - Coal
John Kelly, Vice Chair - Oil and Gas
Eric Nelson, Chair
Eric Householder, Vice Chair
Gary Howell, Chair
Lynne Arvon, Vice Chair
HEALTH AND HUMAN RESOURCES
Joe Ellington, Chair
Amy Summers, Vice Chair
John Shott, Chair
Roger Hanshaw, Vice Chair
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Allen Evans, Chair - Agriculture
Roger Romine, Vice Chair - Agriculture
Bill Hamilton, Chair - Natural Resources George Ambler, Vice Chair - Natural Resources
BANKING AND INSURANCE
Steve Westfall, Chair - Insurance
Brad White, Vice Chair - Insurance
Cindy Frich, Chair - Banking
Jill Upson, Vice Chair - Banking
Roger Hanshaw, Chair
Steve Westfall, Vice Chair
INDUSTRY AND LABOR
Tom Fast, Chair
Geoff Foster, Vice Chair
Erikka Storch, Chair
Danny Hamrick, Vice Chair
PENSIONS AND RETIREMENT
Ron Walters, Chair
Mike Folk, Vice Chair
Erikka Storch, Chair
Saira Blair, Vice Chair
ROADS AND TRANSPORTATION
Marty Gearheart, Chair
Danny Hamrick, Vice Chair
Kelli Sobonya, Chair
Cindy Frich, Vice Chair
Tim Armstead, Chair
SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE PREVENTION & TREATMENT OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Joe Ellington, Chair
Kayla Kessinger, Vice Chair
SENIOR CITIZEN ISSUES
Ruth Rowan, Chair
Matt Rohrbach, Vice Chair
SMALL BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Jordan Hill, Chair
Rick Atkinson, Vice Chair
VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOMELAND SECURITY
Jim Butler, Chair - Homeland Security
Pat McGeehan, Vice Chair - Homeland Security
Roy Cooper, Chair - Veterans Affairs
Danny Wagner, Vice Chair - Veterans Affairs
Background on Leadership Positions: All members of the leadership team serve as spokesmen for their party’s political position and, as such, act as liaisons for the leadership with the full membership and the members of their party.
The Majority Leader takes the most visible role during floor sessions, advancing the daily agenda, announcing caucus meetings, and serving as the chief spokesman for the majority party’s position on a given issue. The Assistant Majority Leader will serve as Majority Leader in that person’s absence, and also assist in working with members to advocate the party’s position.
The Majority Whip is in charge of working with members to develop consensus on issues and to manage votes on legislation.
The Speaker Pro Tempore will assume the chair during session should the Speaker be absent or leave his post to address the members from the floor.