CHARLESTON – House Speaker Rick Thompson said today he is honored and grateful to have been elected for a fourth term as Speaker of the House of Delegates for the 81st Legislature.
“As I told House members today, I have found an essential part of being Speaker of the House is recognizing the experience and passion that each delegate brings to the table,” he said. “I owe a lot to each and every member who worked tirelessly to maintain an open, inclusive and productive process.
“I rely on every member's input and I can't begin to express how much I have valued it over the years.”
In accepting the honor, Speaker Thompson noted that the open-door policy he and his leadership team have maintained has proven extremely rewarding.
“I believe members find the free and open debate refreshing and productive and I fully expect that exchange to continue,” the Speaker said. “We all know there is no room for political gamesmanship by either party, and West Virginians expect us to dedicate our energy to meaningful measures that bring positive change.”
The Speaker, who was first chosen to lead the House during the 2007 legislative session, took a moment to review the Legislature’s accomplishments during his tenure:
For example, members will work with the education audit to improve public schools.
In preparation for the session, the Speaker appointed nine delegates to serve on a bipartisan panel that is delving into the Governor's Education Efficiency Audit.
“I want each member to make an informed decision, and to use this panel as a valuable resource,” he said.
“That way, House members can build common ground now, so that they can hit the ground running when Governor Tomblin presents his education agenda to the Legislature.”
The House will continue to work to help West Virginians gain access to affordable, quality health care, the Speaker noted.
“Recently, I elevated the House Health Committee to a major committee to address West Virginians' many health concerns,” he said. “I know we all want to improve health care accessibility and affordability, in particular for our growing senior population.”
Other initiatives the Speaker mentioned today:
“We have to continually stretch our tax dollars,” the Speaker said. “As we balance the state budget and ensure the payments of our long-term debt, we can seek to better determine what tax incentives the state offers to businesses and how to accurately track their effectiveness in bringing jobs to West Virginia.
“We must be careful stewards of taxpayer money, and that means taking every step to determine the costs and benefits of every piece of legislation.”