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House Speaker Thompson announces committee leadership changes

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House Speaker Rick Thompson recently announced leadership positions for the House of Delegates, with the biggest changes coming in vice chairmen positions – four of the five major committees have been assigned new vice chairmen.

"One of the greatest qualities of the House of Delegates is its diversity," Thompson said in a news release. "Our members bring such a variety of expertise and experience to the process, and we want to take full advantage and ensure our committees benefit from it."

Thompson, D-Wayne, said he worked closely with House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, to create well-balanced and productive committees.

The House leadership team will see the addition of Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, in the position of Speaker Pro Tempore as well as a member of the House Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation from the committees to the full House of Delegates. Former Speaker Pro Tempore, Democrat Ron Fragale, was defeated by new Delegate Danny Hamrick, R-Harrison.

"Delegate Swartzmiller has tirelessly served in the House for the past 12 years, and during the past few terms, has taken on both the chairmanship of the Committee on Homeland Security and the role of Assistant Majority Whip," Thompson said in the news release. "He is well-suited to become the next Speaker Pro Tempore."

Delegate Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell, was appointed vice chairman of the House Finance Committee. The position of chairman is still held by Delegate Harry Keith White, D-Mingo.

Delegate Tim Manchin, D-Marion, has been named vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a position previously held by Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha. Hunt was named chairman of the Political Subdivisions Committee, which was Manchin's previous committee chairmanship.

Delegate Tim Miley, D-Harrison, has been re-appointed Judiciary Committee chairman.

Delegate Josh Stowers, D-Lincoln, is now vice chairman of the House Education Committee, a position long held by Delegate Brady Paxton, D-Putnam. Paxton will be chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security this year, a position previously held by Delegate Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison. Iaquinta will be chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, according to Thompson's release. The vice chairman will be Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion.

Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour, will continue to serve as chairman of the Education Committee.

Thompson recently elevated the House Health Committee to major committee status. He named Delegate David Perry, D-Fayette, its vice chairman, and the chairman will continue to be Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne.

Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, will chair the Insurance Committee, the position Perry held last year.

Delegate David Walker, D-Clay, was chosen chairman of the Agriculture Committee, a position previously held by former Delegate Greg Butcher of Logan County.

And Delegate Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, becomes chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, the post held by former Delegate Joe Talbott of Webster County.

Delegate Jim Morgan, D-Cabell, was re-appointed chairman of the Government Organization Committee.