Updated on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 4:45 p.m.
West Virginia lawmakers kicked off their regular session at Wednesday and handled procedural business, including authorizing a State of the State address from Governor Jim Justice.
In the House’s opening floor session, Del. S. Marshall Wilson moved to vacate the chair and elect a new speaker.
"My friends, it is my profound honor to once again stand in this chamber with you to serve, as well as we may, the West Virginia Constitution and our employers – the good folks who elected us to represent them," said Wilson on the floor.
"I rise now according to that duty and in the name of the Free Mountaineers of District 60 and move to vacate the chair," he added before the motion was tabled.
Majority Leader Daryl Cowles said in a brief interview following the floor session that Wilson’s motion came as a surprise to the chamber and that Speaker Tim Armstead has done well at the helm.
On Wednesday afternoon, Wilson was notified by Speaker Armstead's office that he was being removed from the Committee on Small Business and Economic Development and the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. Wilson remains on the House Education Committee.
An email from the House's communications director stated that Armstead did not plan to offer additional comments on the matter.
However, Del. Michael Folk, a Republican who is part of the Liberty Caucus provided a statement on Wilson's motion.
“I just want to be clear, Pat McGeehan and I had no foreknowledge of the bizarre motion made this morning," Folk said in a statement delivered by email through the House's communications director. "Although Marshall Wilson votes with us on many occasions, we did not support his motion. In fact, Pat was going to speak in favor of tabling Wilson’s motion and against the motion to vacate had either been debated.”
Coming into the session, Republican leaders have prioritized doing away with the state’s business inventory tax and a measure known as co-tenancy that deals with land rights for natural gas drilling.
Democrats have cautioned that, despite a recent uptick in the state’s economy, a repeal of the business inventory tax may be premature and unaffordable in the long term.
Justice will deliver his second State of the State address Wednesday at 7 p.m., with the tone expected to be more upbeat with an improving economy and tax revenues meeting projections.