The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 23, 2013

Laird named state Senate majority whip

By Mannix Porterfield
The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON — Even though the statewide impact of all issues must be the overriding concern, Sen. Bill Laird says his elevation to West Virginia Senate majority whip gives southern counties a voice in President Jeffrey Kessler’s leadership team.

Laird, D-Fayette, reflects only the second change in Kessler’s leadership team, both of them necessitated by the departure of two senators.

Laird succeeds former Sen. Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, who was succeeded in the 9th Senatorial District by Sen. Daniel Hall, while Sen. Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel, was moved up to president pro tempore, replacing Sen. Joseph Minard, D-Harrison, recently installed as Senate clerk.

A whip serves as a go-between for the majority leader and rank-and-file party leaders.

“Mainly, I view the role of a majority whip as consisting of regularly interacting in developing and working closely with my colleagues in the majority party to assist in the passage of legislation that’s important to the future of our state,” Laird said Monday, after attending a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Lewisburg.

Laird will be working under Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, when the 2013 session opens Feb. 13.

Kessler left intact the rest of his leadership team, including Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha; Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion; Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne; Government Organization Chairman Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson; and Health and Human Resources Chairman Ron Stollings, D-Boone.

“The members of my leadership team continue to prove that they are capable and hard-working,” Kessler said.

“They have demonstrated their willingness to work with me in any capacity and participate in open and frank discussions to move West Virginia forward.”

Laird said he considers his appointment as majority whip “indeed an honor,” adding he appreciates Kessler’s confidence in making him part of the leadership team.

“At least from my perspective, being part of that leadership team is important to southern West Virginia and our regional interests and concerns,” said Laird, now in his second term.

“In my judgment, this shows a little geographic balance in his (Kessler’s) approach to putting together this leadership team.”

Without doubt, Laird said he and the presence of Stollings in leadership roles provide the southern region a voice.

“We have a responsibility to maintain a statewide perspective on issues,” the senator said.

“But nonetheless, I think our regional interests and concerns, particular to southern West Virginia, are important for our voices to be heard as part of the overall legislative process.”

There was no indication when Kessler would name his individual assignments to the Senate committees.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com