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W.Va. House of Delegates Speaker Hanshaw announces leadership team

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Returning House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, publicly announced today the full roster of leadership roles members of the House of Delegates will hold for the upcoming 86th Legislature.

House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw

“Each legislative session is different, and each member brings unique perspectives to the body, so we take a look at our team each session,” Hanshaw said. “We look for the best ways to leverage our collective strengths to assemble the leadership team that will carry out the functional work of the House, to ensure we use our limited time together to continue passing laws that make it easy to simply choose West Virginia, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Long-time Finance Committee Chairman Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, will serve as House Majority Leader, and he will be assisted in that role by Delegates David Kelly, R-Tyler, Dean Jeffries, R-Kanawha, and Laura Kimble, R-Harrison, all serving as Assistant Majority Leaders.

“We’ve made incredible strides over the years toward becoming a destination for businesses and families, but we still have much work to do,” Householder said. “This leadership team is up to the challenge.”

The long-time vice chairman of that committee, Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wood, will be Finance Committee Chairman, bringing extensive banking and legislative experience to the role. Delegate John Hardy, R-Berkeley, has been named Vice Chairman of the House Finance Committee.

“The time is right to realign the expertise we have across our leadership team, and Eric has been at the forefront of our efforts throughout the past decade to bring conservative principles to bear through the House,” Hanshaw said. “We couldn’t have a better mix of strong leadership, experience and temperament to run the Finance Committee than we have with Vernon and John.”

Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, will provide seamless continuity to floor sessions should the Speaker not be available, taking on the new role of Speaker Pro Tempore. Espinosa, first elected in 2012, will continue to offer valuable input as a member of the House leadership team.

Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, will bring his 14 years of legislative experience, along with a background in business and big ideas, to preside over the newly elevated Committee on Economic Development and Tourism. Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, just re-elected to his sixth term in the House, will serve as Majority Whip. Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Chris Pritt, R-Kanawha, will serve as his Deputy Whips, working with assistants in teams to help communicate with the largest majority of Republican Delegates since 1900.

Delegate Clay Riley, R-Harrison, will serve as Conference Chairman for the coming session. In that role, he will help organize and lead majority caucus meetings and policy discussions among Republican members with the regular help of Delegates John Paul Hott, R-Grant, and Doug Smith, R-Mercer, serving as Conference Vice Chairmen.

“With the work ethic and incredible ability to find solutions through compromise we have in that team, I’m confident they will help lead us to our most successful session yet, and it can’t hurt to have an engineer’s eye on organizing the largest caucus we’ve had in over 120 years,” Hanshaw said.

Speaker Hanshaw also has assembled chairman and vice chairman teams for the House’s major committees, which meet most frequently during session: Education, Energy, Government Organization, Health and Human Resources and Judiciary in addition to the newly elevated committees on Economic Development and Tourism, as well as Technology and Infrastructure.

Delegate Wayne Clark, R-Jefferson, will serve as Howell’s Vice Chairman for the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, will continue leading the Technology and Infrastructure Committee with Delegate Jarred Cannon, R-Putnam, serving as Vice Chairman.

Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, will continue as chairman of the Education Committee, with Delegates Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, and Christopher Toney, R-Raleigh, both filling the Vice Chairman role for the committee. Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood, will continue as Chairman of the Energy Committee, with Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, serving as Vice Chairman. 

Delegate Moore Capito, R-Kanawha, will continue leading the Judiciary Committee with Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, as the committee’s Vice Chairman.

Delegate Chris Phillips, R-Barbour, will be the new chairman of the Committee on Government Organization, and Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, will serve as Vice Chairman.

Delegate Amy Summers, R-Taylor, who had previously served as vice chairman of the Health and Human Resources Committee, will return to that committee and serve as its Chairman, with Delegate Heather Tully, R-Nicholas, serving as her Vice Chairman.

“Both Heather and Amy bring real-world healthcare experience to a topic that now more than ever needs a keen eye, a fine-toothed comb and the legislative acumen to steer us through some really big and really tough decisions,” Hanshaw said. “We have the opportunity to lead with our expertise and continue taking strong action with this crucial committee.”

Delegate Matt Rohrbach, R-Cabell, will fill the newly created senior leadership role of Deputy Speaker, to assist Speaker Hanshaw and the Majority Leader with advancing caucus priorities as well as serving as a liaison for the House with the Senate and the executive branch.

“Matt has led us to historic numbers of conservative members who are eager to get to work on a conservative agenda to improve our economy, and his years of experience in House leadership will help them achieve those goals,” Hanshaw said. “In this role, Matt will be able to foster the productive relationships we need to accomplish continued legislative success.”

Delegate Rohrbach also will continue to serve as chairman of the House Republican Legislative Committee, the political arm of the House Republican Caucus.

“The achievements we’ve made since 2014 have had ripple effects, but it’s no longer enough to celebrate simply being off the Judicial Hellhole list, for example,” Rohrbach said. “We want to be at the very top of site selection lists, and to get to that next level and truly improve the economy of West Virginia, we must have a leadership team with the focus and the drive to continue listening to our constituents and making the hard decisions to get us there.”

Additional leadership for subject-matter committees and other committee membership will be posted on the Legislature’s website in the coming weeks.