Wednesday, January 13, 2016

W.Va. high court to hear arguments Tuesday on Senate vacancy

(AP) — The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about replacing a senator who was elected a Democrat and resigned Republican.

An order Wednesday scheduled arguments for Jan. 19.

Former Wyoming County Sen. Daniel Hall was elected a Democrat in 2012 and turned Republican after the 2014 elections, breaking a tie for an 18-16 GOP majority. Hall recently resigned for an NRA job.

State law is ambiguous about replacing someone who flipped parties.

A Democratic appointment would deadlock the Senate.

In a court filing, Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration said he'd appoint a Democrat unless otherwise court-ordered.

Briefs by Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, GOP Senate President Bill Cole and the state Chamber of Commerce favor a Republican replacement.

Justice Brent Benjamin recused himself.

The 60-day legislative session began Wednesday.