Kessler Assigns Committees for the 81st W.Va. Legislature

WHEELING – West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler has assigned committees for the 81st Legislature, with senators from the Northern Panhandle represented on most committees.

As Senate president, Kessler, D-Marshall, will serve as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, the committee that determines which bills get consideration on the Senate floor during the 60-day legislative session. Joining Kessler on that committee will be Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, tapped by Kessler to be president pro-tempore. Edgell also will serve as vice chairman of the natural resources committee, and will be a member of the finance, military and pension committees.

Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, has seven committee assignments. He remains chairman of the labor committee; vice chairman of the military committee; and a member of confirmations; energy, industry and mining; finance; government organization; and health and human resources committees.

“I have seven committees, and that’s a load,” Yost said. “I’m excited about the confirmations committee. I don’t know much about it yet, but I know I will be working with the governor to help him make appointments to state boards.

Having the opportunity for a relationship with the governor, to have dialogue with him on a regular basis, I think is always an advantage.”

Yost expects the health and human resources committee to take on a big role in the West Virginia Legislature as the state makes changes to comply with federal health care reform.

“Over the next three or four years, we will be addressing issues,” Yost said. “I don’t know what the state’s role will be, but I know we will see changes.”

Newly appointed Sen. Robert “Rocky” Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, also has been assigned to seven committees and will serve as vice chairman for the business and insurance committee. A Wheeling attorney, Fitzsimmons also was tapped for the judiciary committee, as well as the enrolled bills; government organization; labor; military; and transportation and infrastructure committees.

“I’m very pleased with these committee assignments – a lot of them fit with my interests and skill set,” Fitzsimmons said. “The senate president did a good job of fitting me with what was available.”

The Northern Panhandle has no representation on the Senate’s agriculture, economic development or interstate cooperation committees.