CHARLESTON - The state Senate elected a new president Monday while legislators are looking into ways to address the issues over succession of the governor.
West Virginia senators elected Marshall County Democrat Jeff Kessler as their new president succeeding newly sworn in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in the legislative post.
Tomblin resigned as Senate president Sunday to take the office he won in October's special gubernatorial election.
State Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, nominated Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, who serves as the Senate's minority leader, for the position of Senate president. Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, seconded the motion.
When it came to a vote, the Republicans in the Senate supported Hall while Kessler received the Democratic majority's support in the 28-5 vote. Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson, was absent, officials said.
''The Republicans supported Hall while everyone else voted for Kessler,'' Boley said.
Kessler had served as acting Senate president while Tomblin was attending to his duties as acting governor.
''We worked on a lot of good legislation,'' Boley said of Kessler's time as acting president. ''He will do fine.''
Nohe said he was glad it was settled and they can get back to working on legislation for the state.
''It was a very historical night,'' he said. ''It was quite a process to be a part of.''
Those who voted Monday in the Senate included newly appointed Sen. Art Kirkendoll, whom Tomblin appointed Monday to his vacated seat representing Logan County. Boley said Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, who is serving as a Naval Reserve officer in Afghanistan, was able to vote by phone.
A House-Senate judiciary subcommittee is considering legislation that would allow a governor who takes office to fill out an unexpired term to be able to run for two consecutive four-year terms afterward. The committee also is looking at whether the position of lieutenant governor should be created.
Nohe, who serves on that committee, said the purpose of the legislation would be to prevent the kind of situation the state witnessed over the past year from happening again.
Gov. Joe Manchin left office early to fill out the remaining term of the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. As president of the Senate, Tomblin could serve as acting governor, but many questioned whether he could do it for the remainder of the term or if an election had to be held as soon as possible. The state Supreme Court ruled an election had to be held.
Tomblin defeated Republican challenger Mike Maloney in a special election in October. Tomblin was sworn into office Sunday.
''We want a bill that will prevent this situation from happening again,'' Nohe said.
The committee is looking at creating an office of lieutenant governor or to see if an existing elected official, like secretary of state or the attorney general, could step into the position if needed.
Nohe said they will be looking at the expense of each option to see which one would work better for the state.
Boley, who has not heard a lot about the particulars of the legislation, said she still supports the idea of the Senate president taking over as acting governor but regulations need to be enacted to address the concerns the state saw this last time.
Nohe believes the bill the committee comes up with will be one of the first bills the Legislature will take up when it convenes in January during the regular session.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)