From West Virginia Metro News. This statement reaffirms AG/SP Tomblin's position that he does not see his holding of both of his offices as a violation of the State Constitution. The 1872 Constitution clearly mandates a separation of powers between the three branches and that no one can hold offices in two or three at once. The acting governor ought to step aside from his legislative position. Then the state legislature needs to pass legislation to more strictly define the succession.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released the following statement Wednesday regarding the rules of the State Senate:
“With the passing of Senator Byrd, our State has had a shifting of governmental power not recently realized. With Governor Manchin becoming Senator Manchin, another transition has occurred as the duties of acting as Governor have fallen on me as Senate President.
“As you know, the Senate membership has been deeply divided regarding the changing of Senate Rules as it relates to the role of the Senate President while acting as Governor. This has resulted in an emotionally charged environment.
“During our caucus, I opposed the specific rule change that was proposed, which could be read to have prohibited my return to the Senate at all times and for any matters while I act as Governor. I did not believe that such a drastic rule change was necessary to preserve the appropriate separation of powers in our government.
“I am extremely mindful of separation of powers concerns. Indeed, I have taken steps which demonstrate that my main focus will be on running the executive branch only. Current Senate Rules provide that, while I am away from the Senate, the Senate Pro Tempore acts as President. Moreover, I have continually expressed to the members of the democratic caucus that I would listen to their wishes in determining who would be Senate Pro Tempore, i.e., act as President in my absence. Again, I have repeatedly indicated my willingness to abide by the wishes of the caucus in who presides over the Senate while I act as Governor.
“At this critical juncture in our State’s history, we cannot allow political disagreement to get in the way of improving West Virginia and moving her forward. We do not need to create chaos and instability at a time when the people of our State need reassurance that their government is functioning and that the business of vital services they expect continues without interruption.
“I take great pride in the role I have played as one of 34 Senators who have regularly placed the interests of our State first – ahead of personal interests and ahead of politics.
“My colleagues and I have been working feverishly to reach some conclusion where the Senate can come together without fractious differences that prevent the work of the State from being completed. The Senate is so terribly divided at this time that my main concern is getting all sides to begin the process of reconciliation in a manner that will permit the Senate to organize. If we do not work together to resolve our differences, we all lose, regardless of the particular set Rules we adopt.
“I am confident that, as we move toward the Legislative Session in January, the Senate will come together and do what is right for West Virginia. I am committed to continuing that dialogue and working with my colleagues toward a resolution.”
- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin