From The Well

January 11, 2021


At the center of the West Virginia state capitol is an area known as “The Well.”

It is the informal gathering place for lobbyists, reporters, constituents and lawmakers.

Centrally located between the chambers of the House of Delegates and Senate, “The Well” is often where information is shared, alliances are formed and deals are made.



Good afternoon! Thankfully, the year 2020 is in the rearview mirror. On the eve of the first session of the 85th Legislature, there are many questions about how the session will unfold as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news. Whatever transpires during the upcoming session will hopefully pale in comparison to what occurred in just the first 10 days of 2021 But time will tell.



Chamber Chatter



Delegate Derrick Evans Announces Resignation from House of Delegates
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the statehouse on the eve of the first session of the 85th Legislature is the resignation of newly elected Delegate Derrick Evans (R – Wayne).


Evans, facing federal charges for entering the U.S. Capitol with a mob, resigned from the House of Delegates on Sunday.

In a one-page letter submitted to Gov. Jim Justice and the House, Evans wrote “I hereby resign as a member of the House of Delegates, effective immediately.”

Evans also issued a press release in which he says “[t]he past few days have certainly been a difficult time for my family, colleagues and myself, so I feel it’s best at this point to resign my seat in the House and focus on my personal situation and those I love.” He goes on to say that he takes “full responsibility for [his] actions, and deeply regret[s] any hurt, pain or embarrassment [he] may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians.”

Speaker Roger Hanshaw also addressed Evans’ resignation and says that “In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt. In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now.”

The Speaker also addresses the events in Washington D.C. last week by stating that “America didn’t get to this point overnight; what happened this week was the culmination of a toxic political culture that’s been building for years. I believe this is a moment for political leaders – on both sides of the aisle – to re-examine ourselves, take a hard look at how we’ve contributed to this culture, and vow to do and be better to achieve Abraham Lincoln’s dream of ‘malice toward none, charity for all’ to once again achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves.”

“It’s time to turn the page; it’s time for us to move on; it’s time for us to heal. We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, from dealing with a rampaging pandemic, healing an economy wounded by shutdowns, helping those whose livelihoods have been destroyed, getting our kids back into classrooms and giving them a quality education, finding new ways to open up job opportunities and investment in our state, and continuing our work to truly make West Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family. And the Legislature only gets 60 days to accomplish this.

Hanshaw closes his statement with the hope that “we can now come together and move forward to begin this important work without any further distraction.”



House and Senate officials haven’t determined a distribution plan among lawmakers and staff


Legislative leaders are working determine the best way to immunize members and staff against Covid-19.


“We are in the process of gathering that information now and asking how many would be willing to take it — respecting that this is a private medical decision that will be up to the individual to make based on their own personal situation and risk factors,” said Jared Hunt, director of communications for the House. “We will rely on the guidance of our state’s health experts to determine when those lawmakers and staff will be vaccinated as part of their continuity of government distribution timeline.”


Legislative staff are working on a plan to ensure the House and Senate chambers safe, in terms of social distancing, for lawmakers when they return for a single-day organization session on January 13, 2021.


It will be up to legislators to determine if they have the 2021 regular legislative session, scheduled to begin Feb. 10, or whether to delay the session until a later date, with the hope that the pandemic will have subsided by then.


Senate leaders say lawmakers fall under Phase 1-D of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. That’s after people who work in the continuity of government, according to the DHHR website, said Jacque Bland, director of communications for the Senate.


During his press conference on Monday, January 11, 2021, Gov. Justice explained that legislators were offered vaccines “as part of the plan of continuity of government. We’ve got to have our legislators to continue to move forward in all the things we’re doing.”


Senator Craig Blair (R-Berkeley), who is expected to be selected the next Senate president, told The State Journal in December that some lawmakers could receive the first round of a vaccine before the 2021 legislative session begins.


Read more . . .



House Democrats Announce Leadership Team for 85th Legislature


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, Jr. (D-Kanawha) announced key members of the House Democratic Caucus leadership team for the 85th Legislature.


“The House Democratic Caucus knows that we will have to put forward an agenda that truly represents the needs of a population that is hurting in a volatile climate marked by divisiveness and a global pandemic,” said Leader Skaff. “Holding only 23 out of 100 seats, we know that this will be a challenge, but we hope that with that challenge there will be growth, understanding and a future where we can advance policies that rebuild our communities. We have a great team of West Virginia Democrats ready to get to work to make sure West Virginians thrive here at home,” Skaff stated.


Read more . . .



Beyond the Dome



Senator Joe Manchin — America’s Most Powerful Senator?


As a result of victories by both Democratic candidates in the Georgia runoff, Democrats are poised to take control of the U.S. Senate. This likely means that Senator Joe Manchin will be in a position to have a great deal of influence on legislation in the Senate. Manchin, who calls himself a “moderate, conservative Democrat”, is poised to become the crucial swing vote in the evenly split Senate. If former Senator Robert C. Byrd’s time in the Senate is any indication, the entire State of West Virginia is also likely to see the benefits of Senator Manchin’s increased influence.

Hoppy Kercheval writes that Joe Manchin was not on the ballot in Georgia’s hotly-contested Senate runoff election last Tuesday, but he emerged a clear winner anyway.


The victories by Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff splits the U.S. Senate evenly—50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.


The Vice President votes in the case of ties—Kamala Harris for at least the next four years—so Democrats have the narrowest advantage.



On the Agenda



January Birthdays


Senator Stephen Baldwin (D – Greenbrier, 10); Michael J. Romano (D – Harrison, 12); John R. Unger II (D – Berkeley, 16); Delegate Shawn Fluharty (D – Ohio, 03); and Delegate Dave Pethtel (D – Wetzel, 05)


2021 Legislative Calendar


Opening Day – January 13, 2021: Assemble to organize by election of officers and open and publish election returns. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)


First Day – February 10, 2021: First day of session. (WV Const. Art. VI, §18)


Twentieth Day – March 1, 2021: Submission of Legislative Rule-Making Review bills due. (WV Code §29A-3-12)


Thirty-fifth Day – March 16, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the House. House Rule 91a does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.


Forty-first Day – March 22, 2021: Last day to introduce bills in the Senate. Senate Rule 14 does not apply to originating or supplementary appropriation bills, and does not apply to Senate or House resolutions or concurrent resolutions.


Forty-seventh Day – March 28, 2021: Bills due out of committees in house of origin to ensure three full days for readings.


Fiftieth Day – March 31, 2021: Last day to consider bill on third reading in house of origin. Does not include budget or supplementary appropriation bills. (Joint Rule 5, paragraph b)


Sixtieth Day – April 10, 2021: Adjournment at Midnight. (WV Const. Art. VI, §22)



January State Holidays


January 1 – New Years Day

January 18 – Martin Luther King Day


House of Delegates Committee Chairs


House of Delegates Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Phillips – Chair Agriculture

Delegate Dean – Chair Natural Resources

Delegate Hamrick – Vice-Chair Agriculture

Delegate Paynter – Vice-Chair Natural Resources

Delegate Griffith – Minority Chair Agriculture

Delegate Hansen – Minority Chair Natural Resources

Delegate Evans, E. – Minority Vice-Chair Agriculture

Delegate Young – Minority Vice-Chair Natural Resources


House of Delegates Banking & Insurance Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Westfall – Chair

Delegate Hott – Vice-Chair

Delegate Bates – Minority Chair

Delegate Williams – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Education Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Ellington – Chair

Delegate Higginbotham – Vice-Chair

Delegate Hornbuckle – Minority Chair

Delegate Thompson – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Energy Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Anderson – Chair

Delegate Kelly, J. – Vice-Chair

Delegate Evans, E. – Minority Chair

Delegate Pethtel – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Enrolled Bills Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Jeffries, D. – Chair

Delegate Westfall – Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Finance Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Householder – Chair

Delegate Criss – Vice-Chair

Delegate Boggs – Minority Chair

Delegate Rowe – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services

Committee Chairs

Delegate Statler – Chair

Delegate Jeffries, J. – Vice-Chair

Delegate Pethtel – Minority Chair

Delegate Boggs – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Government Organization Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Steele – Chair

Delegate Foster – Vice-Chair

Delegate Diserio – Minority Chair

Delegate Barach – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Health and Human Resources Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Pack, J. – Chair

Delegate Rohrbach – Vice-Chair

Delegate Pushkin – Minority Chair

Delegate Walker – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Industry & Labor Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Zatezelo – Chair

Delegate Barnhart – Vice-Chair

Delegate Fluharty – Minority Chair

Delegate Garcia – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Interstate Cooperation Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Storch – Chair

Delegate Howell – Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Judiciary Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Capito – Chair

Delegate Fast – Vice-Chair

Delegate Lovejoy – Minority Chair

Delegate Brown – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Pensions and Retirement Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Storch – Chair

Delegate Gearheart – Vice-Chair

Delegate Pethtel – Minority Chair

Delegate Evans, E. – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Political Subdivisions Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Martin – Chair

Delegate Hardy – Vice-Chair

Delegate Williams – Minority Chair

Delegate Doyle – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse

Committee Chairs

Delegate Kelly, D. – Chair

Delegate Hanna – Vice-Chair

Delegate Walker – Minority Chair

Delegate Pushkin – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Technology & Infrastructure Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Linville – Chair

Delegate Maynard – Vice-Chair

Delegate Thompson – Minority Chair

Delegate Garcia – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates House Rules Committee

Committee Chairs

Speaker Hanshaw – Chair

Delegate Summers – Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Committee on Senior, Children, and Family Issues

Committee Chairs

Delegate Rowan – Chair

Delegate Sypolt – Vice-Chair

Delegate Zukoff – Minority Chair

Delegate Boggs – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Small Business Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Queen – Chair

Delegate Mandt – Vice-Chair

Delegate Young – Minority Chair

Delegate Hornbuckle – Minority Vice-Chair


House of Delegates Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee

Committee Chairs

Delegate Jennings – Chair Homeland Security

Delegate Cooper – Chair Veterans Affairs

Delegate Worrell – Vice-Chair Homeland Security

Delegate Toney – Vice-Chair Veterans Affairs

Delegate Pushkin – Minority Chair Homeland Security

Delegate Fleischauer – Minority Chair Veterans Affairs

Delegate Zukoff – Minority Vice-Chair Homeland Security

Delegate Griffith – Minority Vice-Chair Veterans Affairs