The Work of the Clerk

Senate Clerk Lee Cassis

BY TAYLOR BENNETT, POLICY COORDINATOR, THE HUB

West Virginia’s 60-day legislative session can seem like a particularly chaotic affair, with hundreds of legislators, staff, and citizens rushing in different directions, all trying to accomplish different and sometimes contradictory goals.

At the Capitol, there are two brave souls whose job it is to bring order to this chaos: the Clerks of the House and Senate.

Bringing Order to the Process

If you look closely at the legislative chaos, you’ll see that it’s governed by a set of rules. These are called Robert’s Rules and they lay out the legislative process and ensure that each voice at the legislature is weighted equally.

The job of the clerk is, essentially, to be the keeper of the legislative process. They make sure that every piece of proposed legislation moves through the process according to the rules and record its progress along the way.

Each chamber of the legislature has a clerk. In the House of Delegates, the clerk is Steve Harrison and in the Senate, it’s Lee Cassis. They’re responsible for providing impartial support for the legislative process in a number of ways including: 

  • Receiving reports about every action taken by each committee, the other chamber of the legislature and the Governor. (Note: In this context, the word “action” means any formal decision made by the legislature such as the result of a vote, any amendments that were made, etc.) 
  • Reporting information about the legislative process to the House or Senate.
  • Supporting legislators as they review bills during floor sessions.
  • Compiling all of the records that they keep into books that are preserved as a record of West Virginia’s History.
House Clerk Steve Harrison (left). Senate Clerk Lee Cassis is pictured at the top of this article.

I Have a Question…

As the official record keepers of the legislature, they are also a wealth of information. Here are some questions that the clerks can be particularly helpful with:

  • Can they do that? No one knows the legislative process better than the clerks, so if you have a question about why a particular action happened on a piece of legislation, the clerk’s office is a great place to start. They can tell you what it means in practice when a bill is “laid upon the table,” or when action has been “postponed indefinitely.” And perhaps most helpfully, they can explain the possible courses of action that could come next.  
  • Who took a stand, or not, on my bill? The clerk and their staff are responsible for recording every action that is taken during a floor session. Who makes a motion, who seconds it, votes that are taken and objections that are made. Everything that is said on the floor is recorded. This information can always be found in the Journal, which is compiled by the clerk daily and can be found on the legislature’s website on the Bulletin Board page. (Note: If legislators want to capture every word that someone said, they may move to have the remarks that person made be printed in the Journal. Otherwise, the clerk records the actions taken, but not every single word.)

 

It takes a lot of work to make sure that the legislative process functions properly. While the clerks aren’t the only ones making sure that each voice is fairly weighted, they play a key role in making sure that the rules of order are followed and that information is available to legislators and citizens alike.

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Watch real stories of West Virginians who are bringing hope to their communities.

For too long, who and what it means to be a West Virginian has been defined for us. It’s time to redefine the Mountain State in our own words and in the eyes of the world. West Virginia can be anything we want it to be – let’s redefine it together.

Parsons

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. 

Through the Opportunity Appalachia program, 6 catalytic community projects located in WV-based Opportunity Zones received $250,000 for pre-development technical assistance. Three projects received additional private funding as a result of program participation.

Community Coaching

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.

Elkins

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.

Franklin

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

Marlinton

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

Petersburg

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

White Sulphur Springs

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

Charleston

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.