CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republicans in West Virginia's House of Delegates don't believe their increased numbers amounted to much this session, but they may be selling themselves short.
After the 2012 election brought them within five seats of capturing a majority, GOP delegates kicked off the session in February by heralding an agenda they touted as focused on creating jobs.
But disappointment replaced that enthusiasm on Thursday, following the deadline for House bills to pass to the Senate. Blasting the session as beset by blown opportunities and misplaced priorities, Republicans announced that none of their agenda proposals had crossed over.
"We've not seen the bold initiatives and the willingness to work toward true reforms in West Virginia that we need to see," House Minority Leader Tim Armstead said at a Capitol press conference featuring most of his GOP colleagues.
The Kanawha County Republican blamed the outcome largely on the majority's leadership. While just one or two seats separate the parties in most of the House's committees, which bills they consider remains the choice of their Democratic chairs.
"Let's be clear. We have 46 members. Until we get to 51, we do not set the agenda for the committees," Armstead, of Kanawha County, said during the press conference. "When a chair of a committee sets that agenda, these bills are not getting on the agenda. They are not getting discussed."
To House Majority Leader Brent Boggs, the press conference offered more examples of what he called a glass-half-empty attitude among Republican delegates. The Braxton County Democrat cited last month's passage of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education measure. Praising that bill's provisions and its goal of improving public schools, he recounted how several Republicans criticized the bill while announcing they would vote for it.
"Every time we pass a bill here, we always use it as a building block for the future," Boggs said Friday. "I think we need to talk about and encourage the people we represent about how we're taking these positive steps."