After the gavel drops: understanding floor sessions

Delegate Roger Hanshaw calls a floor session of the House of Delegates to order. Photo by Perry Bennett, Legislative Photographer.

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

If you’ve never sat in the gallery during a floor session of the Senate or House of Delegates before, the proceedings can be a bit overwhelming. However, like most of the processes that take place at the Capital, once you know the rules, it’s much easier to follow.

Floor sessions follow the same format each day, so you’ll always know what to expect. They generally begin at 11 am, but can be called at another time at the request of the Speaker of the House or Senate President. Here’s what you’re hearing after the gavel comes down:

  • Call to Order, Prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Introduction of Guests– Senators and Delegates introduce constituents, family members, or friends who are in attendance.  
  • Reading of the Journal– The Clerk of the House or Senate begins reading the journal – a detailed record of the previous day’s floor session. Unless there are corrections to be made, this is interrupted by a motion to approve the journal without reading it, which generally passes unanimously.
  • Reports from Standing and Select Committees*– Committee Chairs report any bills that have passed out of their committee. They will say whether the bill received any amendments or was rewritten and will recommend that the bill pass (bills that aren’t recommended to pass don’t make it out of committee).
  • Resolutions – Actions which do not require the Governor’s approval are brought up at this time. Generally, this is when the Senate or House agrees to make it something like “Children’s Day at the legislature” or formally recognize an individual or group for service to the state.
  • Motions and Petitions – Motions are actions proposed by members of the Legislature and petitions are proposals which are made by a large number of citizens at once.
  • Bills Introduced – New bills are introduced at this time. As the list is being read, a Senator or Delegate will interrupt to move that the bills be considered introduced without each of them being read on the floor. Instead, bills are referred directly to the relevant committee.
  • Bills on Third Reading – Bills on third reading are ready for a vote. Senators or Delegates will take time to discuss each bill before calling for a vote and determining whether it will got to the Governor to be signed into law or vetoed.   
  • Bills on Second Reading – This is a second opportunity for bills to be explained and discussed before the final vote is taken.
  • Bills on First Reading – Bills that have passed out of committee are presented to the Chamber. The Committee Chair generally explains the bill and members discuss its flaws or merits.
  • Messages from the other Chamber* – The Clerk will read any messages from the other Chamber of the Legislature. For example, the Senate President may send a message to the Speaker of the House listing bills that have been passed out of the Senate and are ready to begin being considered by the House.
  • Messages from the Executive* – The Clerk will read any messages from the Governor.
  • Miscellaneous Business – This is a catch all for anything else that needs to be addressed.
  • Movement to Adjourn and Announcements – Committee Chairs announce the time and location of upcoming committee meetings. While staff work hard to keep the website as up to date as possible, times and locations for committee meetings can change quickly and often the best way to stay informed is to hear it directly from the Chair.  

 

* The Senate reviews messages from the House and from the Executive prior to receiving reports from standing committees.

Floor Sessions might be governed by very rigid rules, but they can still provide valuable insight into what your legislators are focused on, whether it’s the guests that they introduce or the discussion they offer on bill readings. For more information about this and other processes at the Legislature, take a look at this Citizens Guide.

One last note: You don’t need to be at the Capital to see what’s happening on the floor of either the Senate or the House. Both stream live video and audio daily, so you can watch from wherever you happen to be.

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Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Message from our Executive Leadership Team

Fifteen years ago, stakeholders building up local communities and economies in West Virginia convened to map a coordinated strategy to systemically grow community economic development activity in the state. From the shared vision and collaborative leadership of dozens of strategic partners across the state, the WV Community Development Hub was born.

Since that time, The Hub has grown into the anchor community development organization serving West Virginia. We have built upon the original vision to create a method for rural, community-led development strategies that is uniquely tailored to the needs and opportunities of our state.

As we have grown and developed a proven model for success, our partnerships with community and economic development practitioners, funders, and committed West Virginia residents have been foundational to every element of our work.

Over the past two years, the team at The Hub has adapted to the unprecedented challenges our communities have faced during the pandemic by leaning into our core strengths to deepen our impact. The Hub remains committed to tackling persistent challenges, and we have focused our attention on the most impactful elements of our work.

We are supporting community leaders to advance their visions for local development, creating new pathways for engagement and leadership growth through our virtual training platform, and leading strategies that lift up voices of community leaders to move forward solutions to long-held challenges to growth.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that nothing about the future is set in stone. While the coming year may present enormous opportunities for advancement in our state, they will also inevitably require significant capacity building, shared strategies that are grounded in trust-based partnerships, and extended efforts to support the leadership development of individuals and organizations who have been asked to do more during a time of extreme stress and strain.

The services that anchor organizations like The Hub provide are even more critical in this time, and we expect our work to scale significantly in the coming years ahead.

We look forward to continuing to do the work of putting into action the vision and the shared strategies envisioned by that core group of community economic development practitioners and funders fifteen years ago.

In Continued Accompaniment,

– WV Community Development Hub
Executive Leadership Team

Stephanie Tyree

Executive Director

Amanda Workman Scott

Director of Community Engagement

Emma Pepper

Director of Strategic Network Communications

Katie Loudin

Director of Strategic Development

Montgomery

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Smithers

Residents participated in the Cultivate WV program to kickstart community and economy building. Read their community case study.

Kingwood

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Lewis County

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future.

Meadow River Valley Region

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Monticello Neighborhood of Clarksburg

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Watch their community documentary.

New Martinsville

Residents participated in the Blueprint Communities* program to engage their neighbors and co-create strategic plans for their future. Read their community case study.

Systemic Change

2021 became a time period of catalytic potential as we saw years of investment into our core strategies to enact systemic change yield new results. Our strategic focus areas include policy, communications, and supporting the community economic development system in leveraging unique financing opportunities such as the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative and Opportunity Zones.

In addition, through our strategic policy support role within the Abandoned Properties Coalition, The Hub successfully advanced two key objectives: the creation of a statewide land bank at the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation and extension of the state’s Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. 

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In 2021, we accompanied 16 communities through our in-depth, professional coaching programs. In addition to leaning into coaching and financing opportunities offered through these programs, participating communities leveraged an additional $2.8 million in funding on their own for community economic development projects. While participating in our entry-level coaching program, Cultivate WV, Montgomery and Smithers realized momentum-building success through access to $40,000 in seed funding for projects like farmers markets, public art, wayfinding, community events, and development of a trail system.

Six communities, Lewis County, Kingwood, Meadow River Valley, Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, New Martinsville and Parsons, graduated the intermediate planning program Blueprint Communities* with strategic plans in place. We also launched a new round of HubCAP, our flagship community economic development program, in six towns located in the Monongahela National Forest region: Cowen, Franklin, White Sulphur Springs, Elkins, Marlinton, and Petersburg.

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Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. 

A core team led by Woodlands Development Group also participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

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Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

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Petersburg

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

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Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies.

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A core team led by Crawford Holdings, LLC participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Huntington

Core teams led by Thundercloud, Inc. and the City of Huntington participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support community development projects located in Opportunity Zones.

Grafton

A core team led by Unleash Tygart, Inc participated in Opportunity Appalachia, receiving technical assistance to support a community development project located in an Opportunity Zone.

Leadership Development

As hundreds of people began to engage in our virtual training activities in 2020, we saw a critical opportunity to scale and deepen our impact. This year, The Hub team developed an accessible, virtual platform with options for self-guided and group learning activities as well as professional coaching.

Kickstart Communities is now the crux of our efforts to bring new people into the work and grow their leadership. These activities now form the foundational stages of a Community Leadership Development Pipeline to move motivated residents from seeing the challenges in their communities to proactively collaborating to resolve them.

Cowen

Residents participated in round 4 of The Hub’s capstone Communities of Achievement program with a focus on building local recreational economies. Read their community case study.