CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates rejected a proposed rule change this week that would have allowed one of its members to vote while not being in attendance at the state capitol.

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Del. Josh Nelson, R-Boone, hasn’t attended a floor session this legislative session.

Del. Josh Nelson, R-Boone, has been on active duty with the West Virginia Air National Guard and has not been able to attend any of the House’s floor sessions. The proposed resolution would have permitted voting by delegates if they are “available” and “have time.”

Mason County Del. Jim Butler unsuccessfully argued in favor of the change.

“I think it would only be fitting to go to a little bit of trouble, possibly, to give them the opportunity to fulfill their duties if they happen to be a legislator here,” Butler said.

But Del. Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, argued against the change. The Army veteran said being split between active duty and serving in the legislature could be seen as a neglect of both duties.

“The citizens of our state don’t deserve that and certainly the members of the military unit that you are serving with do not deserve that neglect,” Craig said.

Nelson is a first-term delegate who upset Democrat incumbent Larry Barker in the 2012 election. Nelson, a Republican, was able to win in a heavily Democratic district.

Craig said the proposed rule change left him thinking about his time as a platoon leader.

“Do I leave them standing so I can go get on a conference call and participate in a debate in the West Virginia Legislature? No,” Craig said. “We should be here at the capitol and be here on the floor of the House like it’s demanded and be at your seat to vote. We can’t stand out behind the chamber and vote. You have to be here and your name’s on the board.”

Del. Butler said times have changed with things like Skype and hooking up to remote locations wouldn’t be that much of a problem.

“I think it would only be fitting to allow a member that we have who cannot be here because he is, or she at some future point, is serving their country to fulfill their duties as a representative in this body,” Butler said.

The proposed resolution failed 66-29.

Del. Nelson has filed for reelection.


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  • CaptainQ

    Bet they would've supported this rule change if Nelson was a Democrat!

    Oh well, partisan politics as usual under the Capitol Dome.

    • liberty4all

      I would disagree with the characterization of it being partisan. It wasn't decided on a party line vote. Besides, while I commend him for his service, if you allow absentee voting in this instance, where do you next have to allow it?

      The more important question to me as a taxpayer is whether he is receiving his salary from the Guard and the legislature? I can tell you I don't pay my workers who don't actually show up a the workplace and work.

  • Chris1529

    Why doesn't he just go on unpaid leave from the Military during the legislative session? He will be paid by the State to be a legislator.

  • Michael

    Look people, here is the MILITARY PERSPECTIVE and legality of it and the answer is a big huge NO

  • Purple Rain

    yeah can someone hold my gun while I go vote on something I know nothing about

  • flossrancher

    If military duty exempts a delegate from attending legislative session, what about other duties? How about the parent of a seriously ill child, or a corporate officer out of town trying to bring jobs to the state? The fact is that there's a lot more to representing one's district than voting. If the man is not in Charleston attending to committee work, answering questions and addressing problems from constituents, and in general functioning as a delegate, there's no reason to pretend he is by allowing him to vote. If the people in his district elected a delegate who is not able to represent them fully, then they will deservedly suffer from his absence.

  • Tom P.

    If in the future, say six or maybe even a dozen delegates should happen to be in the military at the same time, how would that play out as far as voting is concerned. Someone would have to be hired by the House of Delegate just to keep track of all the delegates in the military. What a strange concept.

    • northforkfisher

      Good point because a lot of people join the Guard to help pay bills and to get leadership skills. Like I said who would have thought this war being this long and drawing in so many guard and reservists.

  • Bob

    I agree with the decision of the house of delegates. He needs to be a soldier first and foremost.

    By the way, thirteen republican house members agree. It was not a D vs. R thing so please don't try to make it one.

  • James

    The Democrat good ol' boy machine rolls on! This man is helping to make it possible that the cocktail for lunch bunch boys can meet in safety,

  • Michael

    Soldiers should be soldiers and not politically partisan. It is not ethical to vote on legislative issues while in uniform.

    I have never heard of a soldier try to do this type of thing. It is wrong and most that serve in the military know this and honor their duty to their unit.

    No other state has allowed it and it has never been allowed in our state since inception. There is a reason for that and this one guy should know better.

    • Wowbagger

      Is it ethical for a school teacher, who is a legislator, to vote on educational issues (including pay raises) just because he or she is technically a county employee whose salary is subsidized by the state?

    • Charleston

      Could you please back your statements with fact? How could this individual hold office if it's never been allowed since our its inception?

      • Michael

        He must have joined either after he was a delegate already or he's in the reserves/national guard and has been called to duty during his time to serve in the legislature. That would be the only way.

      • Charleston

        I am not trying to be inflammatory, just asking for some information. Thanks.

  • paul

    If he isn't there for the debate and discussion, why should he be allowed to vote? If that bill were to pass, would there be any reason for a capital in the future?

  • just sayin

    How can anyone vote against something that will help our military men and women-especially one who not only serves our country but serves our state as well. But the worse thing is that Del Craig said that it would be "neglect"-how ridiculous!!!!! Could it be because Del Nelson is a Republican??? just sayin

  • Ace

    He upset an incumbent democrat in a heavily democratic district. Say no more........

  • northforkfisher

    He can go and die for our country, but vote absentee for this state. If he is kept abreast of the subject then let him vote.

    • Michael

      He needs to focus on protecting himself and his fellow soldiers. Most soldiers understand this and I'm completely taken aback that this came up as something they were trying to change.

      • northforkfisher

        I was in the military and he could do both. He can't help that a war takes longer than expected and we should not penalized him for that. He might be able to vote on all the bills, but at least the most important.
        I'm thankful for his service in both. May god bless him 4 both.

        • Michael

        • Michael

          No you couldn't. You could not be active military and have a political office.

          • Michael

            He doesn't mix the two. He's either a civilian or a legislator. There is a specific code in the military that states that if you are active duty for more than X days then you cannot serve in political office. Erik falls underneath that but I don't believe this guy does or else he wouldn't be in this predicament.

          • James

            Yes you can... What about Erik Wells? doesnt he do both?

  • Polly the Pundit

    I commend the man for his service but he needs to realize that he is letting his District down by not being there to particpate and vote...maybe he should wait until after he completes his service.