House Speaker Rick Thompson has spent the month putting together a complicated puzzle with implications for the future of the state.
Thompson, D-Wayne, poured over lists of Democrats and Republicans trying to figure out how to populate the House of Delegates' committees.
"I can't even count the hours," Thompson said in an interview Thursday in his Capitol office.
Committees almost always get the first crack at bills before they go to the 100-member House. Committees can fast track bills, work out their kinks, change them to make them unpalatable or kill them outright.
Inevitably, lawmakers vie to be on the powerful House Finance Committee and the Roads and Transportation Committee. But there are only so many spots on those prime panels.
At the same time, the speaker had to deal with 46 Republicans - the most in the House since the Great Depression.
And for much of the month, one of Thompson's top lieutenants - House Judiciary Chairman Tim Miley, D-Harrison - was a candidate to replace retired Sen. Joe Minard in the state Senate.
Miley ended up staying put.
Earlier this week, Thompson unveiled his list of committee members.
The process was closely watched. Typically, seats on committees are divvied up based on the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the whole House: If a third of the House is Republican, a third of the members on each committee are Republican.
With 46 Republicans, that means 11.5 Republicans would be entitled to sit on each of the five major committees, which traditionally have 25 members each.
Of course, people can't be split in half.
Thompson ended up varying the number of members on the five so-called major committees, which meet more frequently than other panels and generally exercise the most power.
There will be 14 Democrats and 11 Republicans each on the powerful Judiciary and Finance committees. The Finance Committee sees virtually any bill that costs money.
There will be 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the other three major committees - Education, Government Organization and Health.
Thompson said he and House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, hashed out the breakdown in recent weeks.
"Armstead and I worked together to come up with those numbers," Thompson said.
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said Republicans are satisfied with the final ratio.
"I think we're satisfied; the numbers may still be a little off or a little short," Cowles said.
Cowles is expected to be named Republican "whip," meaning the lawmaker tasked with checking the pulse of the caucus and seeing where its members stand on various issues.
The House also has 10 minor committees that meet only once a week.
However, Thompson doesn't necessarily accept the Capitol shorthand of minor versus major. He said minor committees become "very major" when they are dealing with important bills.