I am writing a quick update from Wheeling where I have just arrived after the special session of the House convened for the election of the Speaker of the House. As expected, Del. Tim Miley was easily elected Speaker. I very much look forward to service with the new Speaker. No details have emerged as to any changes he will make in committees or in the leadership team.
Over the next three days in Wheeling, we will mix policy discussion with celebrations of the sesquicentennial. I most look forward to the Legislature convening in Independence Hall which was the site for constitutional conventions that led to eventual statehood 1863. It first served as the seat of the Restored Government of Virginia (aligned with the Union) from 1861-1863. Importantly, the very issue at the heart of the civil war was actively debated in Independence Hall. I am very glad I participated last year in two of the performances of "A New Home for Liberty: Human Rights, Slavery and the Creation of West Virginia." Several of the important scenes were set at Independence Hall.
While West Virginia's 150th birthday is a time for reflection on the historic origins of our state, it is also a time to look to our future. Where will be in 50 years at our bicentennial? (If I live as long as my maternal grandmother, I will be here for it). I would like to see a West Virginia that is a leader in education, where we are nimble and entrepreneurial with our decision-making, where we are unafraid to take risks. I would like to see a West Virginia that preserves its beauty while producing safe, clean energy. I know we can do this, and I know we can ensure equality of opportunity for all citizens, regardless of their immutable characteristics or their origins. I want to see a West Virginia where more than half the people born here, can stay here. And importantly for Jefferson County, I want to see a place that has a diversified tax base, but that is recognizable to those of us today.