Making Democracy Work

Constitutional Amendments on 2016 ballot

Two constitutional amendments will be on the November 2016 ballot: Tax Relief, Right to Work. Information here is quoted from vote411.org.

Tax Relief Constitutional Amendment

"Question: Shall the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any law enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who was killed in the line of duty, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?"

A 'YES' vote is a vote FOR adding this amendment to the Constitution. (Agree with proponents.)

A 'NO' vote is a vote AGAINST adding this amendment to the Constitution. (Agree with Opponents.)

Pros and Cons:

Proponents of the amendment say:

1. Exemption from the real property tax of surviving spouses recognizes the hardships to families as a result of the death of those who serve to protect Virginians.

2. The exemption is established at the option of localities; thus, it is not considered an unfunded mandate.

Opponents of the amendment say:

1. Exemption from the real property tax by localities could result in reduced revenue for that locality.

2. Changes to the Virginia Constitution should be done only for very extraordinary and compelling needs/reasons.

Right to Work Constitutional Amendment

"Question: Should Article 1 of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby

(i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer,

(ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or

(iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise?"

INTRO: Right to work laws mean that an employee has a right to work for an employer without being a member of a union (but gets the benefit of the union's negotiations for improvements without paying union dues); RTW bans making union membership a condition of employment.

Right to Work (RTW) VA Constitutional Amendment Pros and Cons

A "YES" vote is a vote FOR adding this amendment to the Constitution. (Agree with proponents).

A "NO" vote is a vote AGAINST adding this amendment to the Constitution. (Agree with Opponents).

Proponents say:

1. A constitutional amendment would ensure that future General Assemblies cannot easily change Virginia's status as a "right-to-work" state.

2. A constitutional amendment, approved at an election, shows the direct will of the people, not just that of legislators.

Opponents say:

1. A constitutional amendment is not necessary since Virginia's current policy has been in effect for over 60 years.

2. A constitutional amendment does not allow for timely modifications.