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WV Legislature re-elects leaders

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The state's 100 delegates and 34 senators have officially been sworn in and new leaders have been elected.

The state's lawmakers convened at noon Jan. 9 to mark the official beginning of the 81st Legislature.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum delivered the oath of office to the 100 delegates. Following the oath, Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, the oldest member of the House of Delegates, presided over the proceedings until a speaker could officially be elected. Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, nominated Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, for another term as Speaker of the House. Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, seconded the nomination.

On the Republican side, Delegate John O'Neil, R-Raleigh, nominated House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. Armstead's nomination was seconded by Delegate Anna Border, R-Wood, and Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer. Delegates were then called on to voice their support for either Thompson or Armstead.

Thompson won re-election with 54 votes. Armstead received 46 votes.

In the Senate, Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin administered the oath of office and current President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, was re-elected for a second term. Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, was the Republican nominee.

The Senate also accepted the resignation of Sen. Joe Minard, D-Harrison, who was the elected as the new Senate Clerk.

The 2013 legislative session will begin Feb. 13. According to state code, the start of the session is delayed in election years to give the governor more time to put together an agenda and budget.