With Republican gains, influence of West Virginia lawmakers on the rise

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – As Republicans prepare to take control of the Virginia House of Delegates, the influence of West Virginia lawmakers is on the rise.

Republican success in the Nov. 2 election will bring new leaders to the House, and West Virginia lawmakers will lead the charge.

“Over the past decade, almost a decade, the influence and voice of Southwest and Southern Virginia has waned, and some of the key issues largely overlooked with regard to Richmond,” a said Bob Denton, professor at Virginia Tech and WDBJ7 policy analyst. “It’s a very important turnaround.”

The new Speaker of the House, Todd Gilbert, lives in the Shenandoah Valley.

New House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore and his deputy Israel O’Quinn are from the Southwest.

And Botetourt County Delegate Terry Austin and Kathy Byron of Bedford County will chair the Transportation and Labor and Commerce Committees, respectively.

Denton said it could make a difference on issues of importance to the region.

“There are some very unique regional aspects in terms of funding, in terms of education, in terms of transportation,” Denton said. “At least our part of the Commonwealth will have a chance to get things to a vote, at least to get things in committee terms that will be discussed and not immediately thrown out.”

And as the Speaker of the House and Governor-elect announce additional appointments, we may see more people with West Virginia roots taking on leadership roles in Richmond.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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