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.