CHARLESTON – Clarksburg personal injury attorney Tim Miley was voted the new Speaker of the House of Delegates on June 18.

Miley, a Maryland native and Democrat who represents District 48, has been a member of the House since 2004. He was elected in a 53-44 vote over House Minority Leader Tim Armstead.

Miley, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is the 56th Speaker of the House and replaces Rick Thompson, who resigned his spot in the House to become secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance.

Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis swore Miley in.

“I am honored to be serving as speaker and I truly believe that when we work together we can accomplish great things,” Miley said.

“What I think we all share is that our constituents elected us to work to create opportunities for economic success – not only for the adults who voted for us, but also for their children.”

Miley also said the state needs to increase West Virginians’ access to information.

“Quite frankly, access to worldwide information by having access to the Internet is a game changer for West Virginia and, in my opinion, has become as vitally as important as water, sewage and good roads,” he said.

“Further, we cannot be content with access to the Internet, but we must strive for continued growth toward everyone having access to high speed Internet capabilities.”

Miley said both parties should shift away from negativity to encourage innovation in education and business and industry.

“Let's stop with the excuses of why nobody should come to our state and let's start celebrating the successes that our state has to offer,” he said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, both Democrats, tweeted their congratulations to Miley.

But not all reaction was positive. Legal reform group West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said the election doesn’t bode well for legal reforms.

Miley is the founder of The Miley Legal Group, a firm that, according to its website, practices in the areas of car and tractor-trailer accidents; ATV, gun and hunting accidents; defective products; and medical malpractice.

"It is unfortunate that the House of Delegates has chosen Delegate Tim Miley, a television advertising personal injury lawyer, to be the next Speaker of the House,” said Greg Thomas, executive director of CALA.

“Delegate Miley has voted against many of the positive legal reforms passed by the House in recent years, including the elimination of third-party bad faith, which has resulted in lower auto insurance rates for all West Virginians.”

Thomas said Miley has a history of supporting legislation that should worry job creators.

"In addition to being against legal reforms that move West Virginia into the mainstream, Miley has supported or sponsored some of the most radical bills that should be of greatest concern to job creators, like the insurance disclosure bill (HB 4486) of 2012, the Employee Free Choice Act legislation (HR 17) of 2009, the captive audience bill (HB 4132) of 2008,” Thomas said.

“The election of Delegate Tim Miley as Speaker of the House is a step backward for legal reforms and improving West Virginia's business climate.

Only two Democrats voted for Armstead – Miley and Ryan Ferns of Wheeling. Ferns later tweeted “West Virginia first. Party second.”

West Virginia Republican Party chairman Conrad Lucas said Miley’s election was “no surprise” and that Miley is “right out of central casting for the Left.”

“In spite of all the progress this state has made in tort reform, Workers Compensation fixes and conservative judges on the Supreme Court, the Democrats in Charleston clearly don't understand what can repair our broken economy,” Lucas said, adding that Republicans need to win five more seats in 2014 to take a majority.

The House will vote to retain Miley or select a new speaker in 2014.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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