Not just a senator or delegate – understanding key roles in the policymaking process

House Majority Leader Amy Summers confers with Delegate Rohrbach on the House floor

Every legislator at the Capitol is tasked with representing the interests of the citizens in their districts, but did you know that many legislators also have additional roles to play in the policymaking process? 

Here are a few key roles and what they’re responsible for:

Senate President and Speaker of the House

  • The Senate President chairs floor sessions of the Senate, making sure that each senator has an equal opportunity to understand, discuss, and take action on proposed legislation. In WV, the Senate President is also the Lt. Governor, which means that should the Governor be unable to fulfill their duties for some reason, the Senate President would step in.
  • The Speaker of the House has the primary responsibility of chairing floor sessions of the House of Delegates and maintaining the equitable and efficient function of the House of Delegates. Like the Senate President, the Speaker also has final say over the committee assignments of the members of their chamber.

Majority Leaders and Whips

  • The Majority Leader helps to determine what issues the majority party will focus on during a session. They also act as a spokesman for their party, and are given priority to speak on the floor. Because of this priority, they often make key motions during floor sessions that help keep the legislative process moving.
  • The Majority Whip mobilizes the votes of their party, simply put: it’s their job to know how each member of their party will vote on all bills that come before the body.

Minority Leaders

  • The Minority Leader is the elected spokesperson of their party and have priority to speak on the floor over other members of their party. They support their party by scheduling caucuses (special closed meetings just for their party) and other meetings.

Speaker Pro Tempore

  • The Speaker Pro Tempore presides over meetings of the House of Delegates if the Speaker of the House is unable to do so. An example of this is when the Speaker wishes to make comments about a bill or an amendment. Parliamentary Law says that the Speaker isn’t allowed to do so while chairing the meeting. So, they call on the Speaker Pro Tempore, allow them to chair the meeting, and then step down to make their comments.

 

Legislators are elected to these roles by members of their party, and generally reflect the trust and respect of their fellow legislators. These roles help keep the policymaking process moving forward. 

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