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Senate confirms all Justice appointees


Charleston Gazette-Mail

After an evening of shakeups, the state Senate voted to confirm all of the governor’s 81 appointees, narrowly avoiding another extension of the legislative session.

The governor, however, withdrew two names from the list of requests: Harold Hatfield Jr. and Barbara Whitecotton, both as members of the West Virginia Board of Education.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said he’s happy to see people solidly in their places of employment to help better the state.

“We’re happy to get conferees assigned tonight and help get people in place to better our state and properly downsize our government,” he said.

The committee was originally scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. However, at 5:30 p.m., Senate Republicans were still in caucus when Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, entered the room and said the meeting would be postponed until today, pending an extension on the legislative session from the governor.

Just after 9 p.m., Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, formally began the floor session and directed the committee to meet.

Ferns later said it turns out that because both chambers have already passed a budget that Gov. Jim Justice has not yet signed, Justice cannot call for a new session.

A spokesperson for the governor could not be reached for comment.

Though in a fleeting committee meeting, the body recommended the full Senate reject three appointees, the full body largely ignored the recommendation and confirmed the whole group.

Only one conferee received any resistance, Frank Blackwell, executive director of the School Building Authority. However, the Senate voted to approve him with an 18-12 vote.

During the turbulent early evening hours when Republicans were jockeying for an extended session, Ferns said the governor’s choices were to extend the session or lose all his appointees.

However, upon the revelation that he could not extend, all appointees made it through.

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