House Speaker to Discuss Session

The Weirton Downtown Business Association will host West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Rick Thompson Tuesday for a discussion on what was accomplished – and what wasn’t – during the most recent legislative sessions.

Thompson, D-Wayne, will be the featured speaker for the association’s “Lunch and Learn” meeting, slated for noon today in the newly renovated Weirton Room at the Thomas E. Millsop Community Center on Main Street.

The discussion will focus on issues taken up during this year’s regular session, as well as in this month’s special session, during which lawmakers rejected much of Gov. Joe Manchin’s education reform agenda.

“We’re certainly excited to have Speaker Thompson come to our meeting and share his impressions and thoughts on the sessions,” said Dan Guida, chairman of the local group.

Guida said the event will feature opening remarks by Thompson and a subsequent question and answer session.

Local lawmakers set to attend include state Sens. Ed Bowman, D-Hancock and Jack Yost, D-Brooke; as well as Delegates Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, and Tim Ennis and Roy Givens, both D-Brooke; and Democratic House of Delegates nominee and current Weirton Councilman Ronnie Jones.

Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, has not confirmed his participation, but is expected to attend, Guida noted.

Guida said he believes this will be the first time Thompson has spoken in Weirton, and added the discussion will be a key opportunity for the Mountain State’s northernmost residents to bridge the geographical gap between them and Charleston and make their concerns known to the House leadership.

“Many times over the years I’ve heard, ‘Charleston’s not listening to us up here,'” he said. “This man’s the leader of 100 delegates, so it’s nice to have his ear.”

Potential topics to be addressed include changes to unemployment compensation law, tort reform, the establishment of a pilot program for intermediate business appellate courts in the state and the possibility of bringing home rule to Weirton.

“Now’s the time to go to this meeting and ask about such questions,” said Guida, who added business leaders must be prepared to hear reality, not just what they want to hear. “Sometimes you have to hear the bad news, too. … These guys aren’t magicians.”