CHARLESTON, W.Va. - With less than 10 days remaining in this year's legislative session, House Republicans are "extremely disappointed" in what the chamber has been able to accomplish this year.
GOP members voiced concerns Thursday morning in a press conference.
"We are very disappointed that job creation and the economic challenges facing West Virginians were not the overriding priorities during this legislative session," said Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, in a news release.
From the start of the year the GOP has trumpeted "jobs bills." The party pushed the fact that there are more than 59,000 people unemployed in the state and the Legislature needs to find a way to create a business and legal climate that is better suited to job creation.
That can't happen when Democrats are standing in the way, Armstead said.
The party with the most delegates chooses the chairperson for each House committee. The chair sets the agenda: if there's a bill that the chair might not like, chances are it won't come up during that committee.
The GOP tries to address the issues-he said GOP bills aimed to add flexibility to the tax code, decrease the homestead exemption, deregulate the courts system-but the Democrat-lead committees just won't listen.
"As long as we have chairmen of committees who are unwilling to put bills out there...a Democrat majority is unwilling to let us bring them to the floor, they're not being discussed," Armstead said. "They're not being debated. And that is a frustration, which I think is not just a frustration for this caucus but a frustration for West Virginia."
Typically only bills that have a chance to pass the House are brought to the full chamber.
The GOP talked of change when it picked up 11 House seats in the November elections. Armstead said he thought having 44 Republican delegates could have led to some bills not being discussed in committee or others coming up for debate that might have idled in the past.
"It's not necessarily about our bills not being on the agenda, it's about the common sense solutions we all know are needed. The urgency of now," added Minority Whip Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan.
The lone bright spot in the session has been the education reform measure championed by the governor, Armstead said. Many Republicans said they did not think the measure went far enough, but called the bill a first step toward a better system.