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The House currently has one member that cannot participate in voting or House activities due to military service. Delegate Joshua Nelson has been absent for the second session of the 81st Legislature while on active duty.
House Resolution 6 would allow participation for Nelson and future members not physically present while serving in the military in House proceedings and voting by electronic teleconferencing.
Debate between the two sides arose with over ten delegates speaking on their personal stance on the matter, including the resolution’s sponsor Delegate Jim Butler.
“Technology’s changing,” Butler said. “We have iPads, we have Skype, we have Facebook and we’re on an automated system here. We’re doing things now that people 100 years ago had no concept of. We have the highest percentage per capita of military veterans in the country. So wouldn’t it be fitting if West Virginia did this?”
Delegate Kevin Craig countered that voting members of the House should be present for their legislative duties.
“We owe it to our constituents to show up to the Capitol and be present for them so that they can interact with us,” Craig said. “This is not something we should do via conference call. We can’t stand out behind the chamber and vote. You have to be here so we’re accountable to our people.”
The motion to reject the resolution was adopted by a vote of 66-29.