Should a lawmaker be paid even when he misses an entire legislative session, when the “law making” part of his job is to be carried out? Perhaps just as pertinent, should the legislator choose to continue in that position if he can’t carry out its duties?
Those questions arise from the situation of West Virginia Delegate Joshua Nelson, a Boone County Republican elected in 2012 from the 23rd District. Nelson missed all of this year’s 60-day legislative session because he was attending flight training in Texas as an Air National Guard officer. His absence combined with his acceptance of his $15,000 salary for the legislative session has caused some grumbling among his colleagues at the Capitol, most of them Democrats.
Law said the state had no choice but to pay him, although Nelson said he donated the money to unspecified churches and community organizations in Boone County.
Should state law be changed to deny salary in such circumstances? That question is complicated, particularly when it involves a lawmaker serving his or her country.