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Mountain State Lawmaker Reaches Summit

West Virginia's Senate president is honored with national top legislative award

Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin PHILADELPHIA – Known for his down-to-Earth demeanor, the West Virginia Senate president often goes only by Earl Ray. It’s that connection with his constituents that has earned Senator Earl Ray Tomblin the 2009 Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award.

Tomblin was honored at the 35th Annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, as part of the meeting’s opening general session.

“It is an honor to commend Senator Earl Ray Tomblin's service with the Excellence in Legislative Leadership award,” said NCSL Executive Director William T. Pound. “As president of the West Virginia Senate he exemplifies the most important qualities of a leader, integrity, fairness and compassion. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to preserving and strengthening the Legislature."

The Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award is presented annually to a leader who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership.

“I could not be more pleased with the committee’s selection of Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin as this year’s winner,” said Stephen Lakis, president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. “He has the respect and admiration of his peers for his fairness, honesty, and willingness to put aside partisan differences and do what’s right for the people of West Virginia. And in the bargain, he has elevated the stature of the institution of the state legislature. Earl Ray Tomblin is an example for all aspiring leaders.”

Tomblin served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1974-1980 and then in the Senate from 1980 until today. He served as the Senate majority whip and finance chairman and later as president of the Senate since 1994. Tomblin is the longest-serving Senate president in West Virginia’s history. In addition to being involved in various committees, he has also served on the executive committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and was chairman of the executive committee.

The Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award was founded in 1996. The State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) first honored William M. Bulger, former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, for his distinguished career in public service and particularly for his commitment to protecting and strengthening the institution of the state legislature. That event was the catalyst for the annual award.

The winner is selected by an independent, nonpartisan selection committee of legislators, former legislators, scholars and representatives of the two sponsoring organizations. The award is presented at the Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures each year. Last year’s recipients were Senate President Richard Codey of New Jersey and former Minnesota Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum.

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1972 to serve America’s state legislative leaders: Senate presidents, House speakers, majority leaders, minority leaders and pro tempores. It conducts national educational programs and provides research on public policy issues, leadership behavior, and state legislatures specifically for state legislative leaders.


July 20, 2009 - Press Release and Video provided by the NCSL. Photos provided by the West Virginia Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.

Acceptance Speech Video


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The Award



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