The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 6, 2013

W.Va. Legislature: New speaker finalizing leadership team plans

CHARLESTON —  New Speaker Tim Miley expects to name his leadership team in the House of Delegates before this month’s legislative interims, but cautions that no one watching the suspense mount should expect a major shakeup.

In reality, he need only come up with one new chairman — that one the judiciary committee, since this is the role he has filled in recent years.

Without dropping any hints, Miley said he has met with some fellow delegates in preparing a team for the remainder of this term of the Legislature.

“I’m hoping to finalize things here in the next two to three weeks, prior to the July interims,” the Harrison County Democrat said.

“I need to get that done. Once it’s done, it’s on to something else to obsess about.”

Miley laughed at that last remark, cognizant of how a House speaker is the focal point of

newshounds now observing his every move.

“I don’t want to make it sound like, once it’s done, that all the worries are over,” he said.

“Just the opposite. Once it’s done, then I get to the next worry.”

Some of the current team became rivals when former Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, departed last month to accept the cabinet-level post of secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance.

Miley won the post June 18 after his chief competitor, Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, bowed out at the last minute, and threw his support to him.

“I don’t plan on making wholesale changes,” Miley said of his team.

“The changes will be relatively minor, that is, in the eyes of the beholder. I campaigned on stability primarily in personnel and I will maintain that pledge while we’re in the middle of the term. While there will be some changes, they will not be considered wholesale in my mind.”

Nor does the new speaker envision any major alterations in the makeup of the House committees.

“I don’t anticipate as many dominoes falling as there is typically,” he said.

Miley was viewed as a moderate when he anchored the judiciary committee, a mild-mannered referee between left and right forces that often were at odds over controversial legislation.

“In theory, I could just leave everyone where they are and just fill the judiciary chairman,” Miley said.

“That would be the easy way out of it. I’m not sure I could tear myself away. So, I may be listening to it on the squawk box down in my office.”

Miley said the committee he has chaired benefits from the diversity of its members, some liberal, some conservative and others with a moderate ideology.

“That’s what makes the citizens Legislature such a great institution,” he said.

“You get people from all walks of life, and all types of influences, and try to hammer out a good piece of legislation. That’s why it’s the greatest thing in the world.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

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