CHARLESTON -- House of Delegates Speaker Rick Thompson has been unanimously elected Vice Chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference by fellow lawmakers from 16 member states.
"I am deeply honored by my appointment to this important position," Thompson said. "I look forward to helping guide the Conference in policy deliberations and working with leaders from the other states."
In addition, as part of the natural progression of leadership within the organization, Speaker Thompson is expected to become chairman of the organization by 2012, the same year West Virginia will host the Southern Legislative Conference's annual meeting.
"The conference in 2012 will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase our state, and it promises to provide an economic boon not only for Charleston, but for a variety of the many tourist attractions around West Virginia that are within easy driving distance," Thompson said.
Founded in 1947, the Southern Legislative Conference is the largest of four regional legislative groups operating under The Council of State Governments and comprises the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
As part of its mission to foster and encourage cooperation among its member states, the Conference met in Winston-Salem, NC, this week, bringing together nearly 1,000 delegates, legislative staff and guests from across the South.
As Vice Chairman, Thompson will assist the Chair in facilitating the general activities of the conference, lead policy deliberations and serve as liaison to the House and Senate leaders of the member states.
"I take the job very seriously and plan to be proactive in reaching out to leaders from other states," Thompson said. "This puts me in a great position to ensure that when the Council of State Governments is looking at ways to improve how state governments can better serve their constituents, West Virginia is front and center in that discussion.
The 16-state coalition last held its conference in West Virginia in 1997.
"I and fellow state leaders will enjoy planning a lively, informative and entertaining conference in 2012, when the Southern Legislative Conference holds its 66th Annual Meeting here in the Mountain State," Thompson said.