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WV lawmaker resists Sunday sessions, cites religion

Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo John Unger
Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo
John Unger

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state senator and ordained minister said Monday he’s considering going to court to block the Senate from meeting this Sunday, saying such sessions violate his freedom of religion.

“They’re putting me in a situation where I have to chose between my congregations or my constituents,” said Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, who pastors at three churches in his home county.

“My religious freedoms are being violated,” Unger said.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, advised senators to plan to meet this Saturday and Sunday. That is anticipation of “crossover day” in the Legislature on March 2 – which will be the last day the Senate can act on Senate bills this session.

Even with an anticipated 5 p.m. floor session on Sunday, Unger said it would be impossible for him to pastor three church services – with the last ending at about 12:30 p.m. – and make it back to Charleston in time.

He said that occurred twice last session, when the Senate met on Sundays.

“I had to miss votes. To me, that does a disservice to my constituents,” Unger said.

Unger said he also believes it is important for legislators to return to their home districts on weekends to get feedback from their constituents…

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