The National Conference of State Legislatures' annual Legislative Summit was held in Atlanta Monday through Thursday. Besides keynote speaker and former U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, attendees enjoyed a reception Monday at the Georgia World Conference Center featuring performances by The Whiskey Gentry, a Phillies-Braves game at Turner Field on Tuesday, and a reception at the Georgia Aquarium Wednesday.
State legislators attending were: Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley; House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison; Finance Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; and Delegates Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia; Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison; Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia; Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha; David Walker, D-Clay; and of course, Danny Wells, D-Kanawha.
(I'd like to see the Legislature adopt a rule requiring any legislators who attend out-of-town conferences at taxpayer expense be required to submit written reports summarizing each of the meetings or seminars they attended, what they learned, and what policies or proposals could be applied to West Virginia. They could call it the Wells Rule.)
Finally, speaking of, it's interesting how leadership in the Legislature (counting the Senate president, House speaker, majority and minority leaders, and Finance and Judiciary chairs) and among the six statewide elected officials has shifted away from southern and central West Virginia.
When I started covering the statehouse in 1990, only one person among those 16 positions hailed from someplace other than southern or central West Virginia: Treasurer Larrie Bailey from Marion County.
Otherwise, leadership was from Kanawha (3, including Gov. Gaston Caperton and Attorney General Mario Palumbo), Wood (3), Cabell (2), Greenbrier (2), Wayne, McDowell, Mingo, Logan and Pleasants counties.
Today, fully half of the state leadership is from north-central West Virginia or the panhandles: Speaker Miley (Harrison), House Finance Chairman Boggs (Braxton), House Judiciary Chairman Tim Manchin (Marion), Senate President Jeff Kessler (Marshall), Senate Majority Leader Unger (Berkeley), Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso (Marion), Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (Marion), and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (New Jersey ... I mean, Jefferson).
Given events of the past week in Mingo County, the regional shift of power in state government is probably a good thing.
(However, given all the rumors for months about the federal investigation, it was a little disappointing to find out it was over discount tires and a jilted romance.)
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.