Nov 14, 2011- Busy Week at the W.Va. Capitol

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

A busy week at the Capitol is underway, as we may finally have a resolution to the ongoing power struggle.

It certainly wasn't packed, but several hundred people turned out Sunday to watch Earl Ray Tomblin (D) take the oath as West Virginia's 35th governor.

I was in the crowd (near the back with my other media friends) witnessing my first inauguration in West Virginia. We got an earful from the few dozen people protesting mountaintop removal mining.

To see Tomblin's full speech, click here. And to see Sen. Joe Manchin's introduction of Tomblin, click here.

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Meanwhile, when one person rises to power, there always seems to be another vacancy to fill.

The state Senate needs to elect a president now. Sen. Brooks McCabe (D-Kanawha) is challenging Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall). For a while, Sen. Mike Green (D-Raleigh) made a run for it. But, he's since dropped back.

When Kessler learned a few months ago that McCabe was interested in the job, he stripped him of the president pro tempore position.

Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha) has already said he's going to back McCabe even though Kessler appointed him to chair the powerful committee.

Both McCabe and Kessler say they have the votes to win. Someone is obviously wrong.

Democrats are expected to caucus at 3 p.m. today. There will be a floor session at 6 p.m.

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Interim meetings continue through Wednesday, but the next big story happens Thursday when the state Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the redistricting case.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) has pointed out there needs to be a decision by early December on whether the Legislature acted legally, so that candidates can have time to consider whether to run and will know what areas their districts include.

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Other big news today: the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March on President Obama's controversial health care reform law.

Legal analysts are calling the planned hearing historic, as it is expected to take about five hours. That would be one of the longest hearings in modern history, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin said Monday.

The key components of the law, which is deeply unpopular in West Virginia, do not take effect until 2014.

The hearing will largely relate to the issue of the legality of obligating someone to buy health insurance.

A decision from the court is expected in June, right in the middle of a presidential election year.

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