West Virginia Senate

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West Virginia Senate
West Virginia Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 14, 2015[1]
President of the Senate
Bill Cole (R)
Since January 14, 2015
President pro Tempore
Donna J. Boley (R)
Since January 14, 2015
Majority Leader
Mitch Carmichael (R)
Since January 14, 2015
Minority Leader
Jeffrey V. Kessler (D)
Since January 14, 2015
Seats 34
Senate diagram 2014 State of WV.svg
Political groups
Governing party

Opposition party

Length of term
4 years
Authority Article VI, West Virginia Constitution
Salary $20,000/year + per diem
Last election
November 4, 2014
(17 seats)
Next election
November 8, 2016
(17 seats)
Redistricting Legislative Control
Meeting place
Senate Chamber
West Virginia State Capitol
Charleston, West Virginia
West Virginia State Legislature

The West Virginia Senate is the upper house of the West Virginia Legislature. There are 17 senatorial districts. Each district has two senators who serve staggered four-year terms.


Senators are elected for terms of four years that are staggered, meaning that only a portion of the 34 state senate seats are up every election.[2]

The state legislature meets on the second Wednesday of January each year and conducts a 60-day regular session.[2]

Legislative process

Unlike most state senates, the West Virginia Senate can introduce revenue bills.[2] Bills must undergo three readings in each house before being sent to the governor.[2] Bills are drafted by the Office of Legislative Services or legislative staff counsel, reviewed by the sponsor of the bill and submitted for introduction.[3] Bills are assigned to committees that make recommendations about a bill in the form of a committee report.[3]

Bills approved in both the West Virginia Senate and West Virginia House of Delegates are then submitted to the governor, who has the power to sign them into law or veto them.[2] The state legislature can override the veto, unless they have already adjourned.[2]


The state's districting system is unique in the United States. Prior to the 2010 Census the state's most populous county, Kanawha County constituted two "superimposed" districts. In practical effect, this meant that Kanawha County was a single district electing two members every two years. The remaining 54 counties of the state were divided into fifteen districts, with county lines not respected in most cases.[4]

Under the unique rule, no multi-county district (and every district except Kanawha's is a multi-county district) may have more than one senator from the same county,[5] no matter the population. This means, for example, that one of the 5th District's two senators must reside in Cabell County and the other must reside in the tiny portion of Wayne County that's inside the 5th District, even though Cabell County has far more people than the portion of Wayne County that is part of the 5th District. However, both senators are elected by everybody within the district, not just by the people of the county in which the senators reside.

Responding to the 2010 Census the Senate redistricted itself. Kanawha County was divided for the first time in the Senate's history, with the northern and western portions joining a part of Putnam County as the 8th District and the remainder of the county constituting the 17th district on its own. This reduced the number of Senators from Kanawha County from four to three, as one of the 8th's must be a resident of Putnam.

The remainder of the state was redistricted, reflecting the continuing shift of the state's population to the Eastern Panhandle and to Monongalia County, however no incumbents were placed in districts where they had to run against one another, except for the Kanawha situation. Because senators are elected for four-year terms, the redistricting did not come fully into effect until after the 2014 election.[6]

Senate President

The Senate elects its own president from its membership. On January 14, 2015, Bill Cole was elected President.

While the West Virginia Constitution does not create or even mention the title of lieutenant governor, West Virginia Code 6A-1-4 creates this designation for the Senate President. The Senate President is first in the line of succession to the office of governor. As stated in Article 7 Section 16 of the constitution: "In case of the death, conviction or impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation, or other disability of the governor, the president of the Senate shall act as governor until the vacancy is filled, or the disability removed." However, the Senate President may not always serve the remainder of the term as the constitution also states: "Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the office of governor before the first three years of the term shall have expired, a new election for governor shall take place to fill the vacancy."

Current Composition

82nd Legislature (2015-2016)

File:WV Senate 82nd Legislature.png

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Democratic Republican Vacant
End of the 81st Legislature 24 10 34 0
Beginning of the 82nd Legislature 16 18 34 0
Latest voting share 47.1% 52.9%

Leadership of the 82nd West Virginia Senate

Position Name Party District County
President of the Senate/Lieutenant Governor Bill Cole Republican 6 Mercer Co.
President Pro Tempore Donna Boley Republican 3 Pleasants Co.
Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael Republican 4 Jackson Co.
Minority Leader Jeff Kessler Democratic 2 Marshall Co.
Majority Whip Craig Blair Republican 15 Berkeley Co.
Minority Whip John Unger Democratic 16 Berkeley Co.

Members of the 82nd West Virginia Senate

District Senator Party Residence Counties represented
1 Ryan Ferns Rep Ohio Brooke, Hancock, Ohio, Marshall (part)
Jack Yost Dem Brooke
2 Kent Leonhardt Rep Monongalia Calhoun, Doddridge, Marion (part), Marshall (part), Monongalia (part), Tyler, Gilmer
Jeffrey V. Kessler Dem Marshall
3 Donna J. Boley Rep Pleasants Pleasants, Roane (part), Wirt, Wood
Bob Ashley Rep Roane
4 Mitch Carmichael Rep Jackson Jackson, Mason, Putnam (part), Roane (part)
Mike Hall Rep Putnam
5 Mike Woelfel Dem Cabell Cabell, Wayne (part)
Robert H. Plymale Dem Wayne
6 Mark R. Maynard Rep Wayne McDowell, Mercer (part), Mingo, Wayne (part)
Bill Cole Rep Mercer
7 Ron Stollings Dem Boone Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Wayne (part)
Art Kirkendoll[7][8] Dem Logan
8 Ed Gaunch Rep Putnam Kanawha (part), Putnam (part)
Chris Walters Rep Kanawha
9 Jeff Mullins Rep Raleigh Raleigh, Wyoming, McDowell (part)
Sue Cline Rep Wyoming
10 William Laird IV Dem Fayette Fayette (part), Greenbrier, Monroe, Summers
Ronald F. Miller Dem Greenbrier
11 Robert L. Karnes Rep Upshur Grant (part), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Upshur, Webster
Greg Boso Rep Nicholas
12 Mike Romano Dem Braxton Clay, Braxton, Gilmer (part), Lewis, Harrison
Douglas Facemire Dem Harrison
13 Robert Beach Dem Monongalia Marion (part), Monongalia (part)
Roman W. Prezioso, Jr. Dem Marion
14 David Sypolt Rep Preston Barbour, Grant (part), Hardy, Mineral (part), Monongalia (part), Preston, Taylor, Tucker
Bob Williams Dem Taylor
15 Craig Blair Rep Berkeley Berkeley (part), Hampshire, Mineral, Morgan
Charles S. Trump IV Rep Morgan
16 Herb Snyder Dem Jefferson Berkeley (part), Jefferson
John Unger Dem Berkeley
17 Corey Palumbo Dem Kanawha Kanawha (part)
Tom Takubo Rep


  • Agriculture And Rural Development (11 members) – Dan Hall, Chairman
  • Banking and Insurance (13 members) – vacant
  • Confirmations (9 members) – Donna Boley, Chairman
  • Economic Development (14 members) – Tom Takubo, Chairman
  • Education (14 members) – Dave Spyolt, Chairman
  • Energy, Industry and Mining (13 members) – Mike Green, Chairman
  • Enrolled Bills (5 members) – Mark Maynard, Chairman
  • Finance (17 members) – Mike Hall, Chairman
  • Government Organization (14 members) – Craig Blair, Chairman
  • Health and Human Resources (13 members) – Ryan Ferns, Chairman
  • Interstate Cooperation (7 members) – Ed Gaunch, Chairman; (Senate President is ex officio co-chairperson)
  • Judiciary (17 members) – Charles Trump, Chairman
  • Labor (11 members) – Dan Hall, Chairman
  • Military (9 members) – Kent Leonhardt, Chairman
  • Natural Resources (13 members) – Robert L. Karnes, Chairman
  • Pensions (7 members) – Charles Trump, Chairman
  • Rules (10 members) – Bill Cole Ex officio Chairman as Senate President
  • Transportation and Infrastructure (9 members) – Chris Walters, Chairman


See also


  1. "West Virginia Legislature". Retrieved January 8, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 West Virginia Constitution, West Virginia Legislature (accessed May 29, 2013)
  3. 3.0 3.1 How a Bill Becomes Law, West Virginia State Legislature (accessed May 29, 2013)
  4. "West Virginia Senate Districts". West Virginia Legislature. Retrieved September 7, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "West Virginia Constitution". West Virginia Legislature. Retrieved September 7, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://www.legis.state.wv.us/legisdocs/2011/1x/maps/senate/Enr%20SB%201006%20Map.pdf
  7. http://www.wchstv.com/newsroom/wv/news3.shtml
  8. appointed to unexpired term caused by the election of Earl Ray Tomblin as Governor of West Virginia

External links