West Virginia Senate leaders lay out legislative priorities

Feb 03, 2021

CHARLESTON — Republican and Democratic leaders of the West Virginia Senate have big plans for a legislative session starting next week.

Members of the press and interest groups heard from state senators Tuesday during the first day of the West Virginia Press Association’s annual Legislative Lookahead. Normally an event held in-person in Charleston, the event was held virtually.

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, was joined by several committee chairs and vice chairs Tuesday to talk about the plans of the larger Republican majority. During the November election, the majority grew to 23 seats, giving Republicans a supermajority.

Blair said Tuesday that he plans to let his committee chairs do most of the leading, focusing his time on managing action on the Senate floor.

“I have no intention of being the voice of the Senate,” Blair said. “My intention is to make it able to be a well-oiled machine that will be able to get legislation through a process, utilizing all the talent that we have in the Senate.”

This year’s legislative session will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Public access to the State Capitol Building is restricted to appointment only. Blair said the Senate plans to make use of more video technology to stream meetings, allow participation by senators through video conference, and allow committee chairs to record videos in an effort to be transparent.

“When I say accessible, it’s going to be accessible digitally,” Blair said. “We currently already have the ability to testify in the committee, view what’s going on in the committees and in the Senate chambers. Accessibility will be readily available to all — the press, the public, whoever it may be.”

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