Miley keeps House leadership largely in place for term

CHARLESTON – Recently minted Speaker Tim Miley is keeping the leadership atop West Virginia’s House of Delegates largely intact, announcing few changes Thursday for what remains of the 81st Legislature’s term.

Majority Leader Brent Boggs of Braxton County and Finance Chairman Harry Keith White of Mingo County will exchange their posts. As Miley had been Judiciary Committee chair when delegates elected him speaker last month, the Harrison County Democrat is promoting Vice Chairman Tim Manchin of Marion County to take over that major committee.

White had also sought the speakership before throwing his support behind Miley.

“We communicate pretty well together,” White, a banker, said of himself and Miley. “I will go from trying to manage the budget to help him manage the day-to-day affairs of the House.”

Delegate David Perry of Fayette County is moving as vice chair of the Health and Human Resources Committee to the same post at Education. Delegate Barbara Fleischauer of Monongalia will become vice chair at Health.

“David did a terrific job. His real forte is education. He was a principal for many years, so he goes back to his roots,” said House Health chair Don Perdue of Wayne County. He also praised Fleischauer for her tenure on his committee.

Miley is leaving other top leaders in place including Perdue, Majority Whip Mike Caputo of Marion County, Education Chair Mary Poling of Barbour County and Government Organization Chair Jim Morgan of Cabell County. The House’s top leaders are also Democrats, and the few changes take effect Aug. 1.

Miley succeeds Veterans’ Assistance Secretary Rick Thompson, who stepped down during his fourth term as speaker after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to that Cabinet post. Perry, meanwhile, becomes Education vice chair following the departure of Delegate Josh Stowers of Lincoln County to join the state treasurer’s office as a top deputy.

The Legislature convenes in two-year terms, each with a pair of annual 60-day regular sessions. The 2013 session ended in April. The House and Senate also hold joint monthly study meetings, with the latest three-day interim session starting Monday. The governor can also call the Legislature into special session, as he did with the House to pick Thompson’s replacement.

Looming challenges include a tight financial picture for the 2014-2015 budget year. With all 100 House seats up during next year’s midterm election, the Democrats also have seen their share ebb to 54 seats following GOP gains in 2012.

“I think this leadership team is going to continue to move West Virginia forward, and working with the Republicans to do so,” Miley said Thursday.