Foster / Higginbotham
Nancy Reagan Foster (38 Del. District)
Joshua Higginbotham ( 13th Del. District)
Report from the Statehouse
Delegates Higginbotham, Foster discuss legislative session

April 28, 2017

Putnam Rotarians today heard reports on the recent legislative session from two delegates representing the county. Joshua Higginbotham represents the 13th Delegate District, which includes parts of Putnam, Jackson and Mason counties. Nancy Reagan Foster represents parts of Putnam and Kanawha in the 38th District.

The freshman delegates gave perspectives on their first legislative session recently ended. Both agreed that it was like a roller coaster ride. "There were a lot of 12 to 15-hour days," said Higginbotham. "A lot of long committee meetings.

"My record for a 12-hour period," he said, "was 850 emails, and I replied to everyone of them -- if they were from West Virginia."

"Many of them are like 'little robots,'" said Foster. "They are told to do something because a leader told them to do it. And they really don't know the details.

"Hundreds of them were from people who are outside West Virginia," she said. "I took every call. I would ask, 'Have you read the bill?' Most had not."

Some bills, the cannabis (medical marijuana) bill in particular, bypassed the committee process and went directly to a first reading. Foster disagrees with that procedure. "There is a relevancy for the process," she said. "Government is very slow," she said, "but there is a reason for it, and I learned to respect that."

"It took a little time," said Higginbotham, "just learning the ropes of the Legislature. I wanted to take time to do things the right way. . . . I stayed pretty busy even when we were not in late evening sessions. I cosponsored almost 80 bills," he said.

"I had already mastered the use of two years and one mouth," Foster told her Rotary audience. "I did a lot of listening and observing. The process was more political than I ever imagined," she said. "And I shouldn't have been surprised at that.

"There was a lot of rushing and waiting. The bills were crossing over from chamber to chamber with amendments. There were conference committees going on throughout the night.

"You had to be very vigilant, quick, and have a sharp eye for reviewing details in the bills coming over.

"Some bills had one or two bills amended within the bill, not necessarily related to the original intent of the bill.

"If you weren't really vigilant in reviewing and reading quickly what the amendment were, you could be voting on something that you completely disagreed on."

Both delegates agreed that the social media helped them to stay in contact with their constituents during the session. "The ones I really paid attention to were from my district" said Higginbotham.

"Somebody from the eastern panhandle has a completely different perspective from someone in the Kanawha Valley," he said.

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