Understanding your ballot: Proposed constitutional amendments

(AP file)

PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — With one week to go before the election, 10 On Your Side is breaking down the ballot to help you understand what’s on it.

There will be two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

The first amendment has to do with the right-to-work.

Virginia is already a right-to-work state. The amendment would put the provisions of that law into the state Constitution. It would make it much more difficult for lawmakers to change in the future.

Basically, right-to-work means by law, no employee can be required to join a union.

Unions say this amendment is designed by big business to silence the voices of hardworking Virginians. Unions urge people to vote no.

On the other hand, business groups, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, say right-to-work laws guarantee individual freedom and encourage investment to create jobs.

The wording on your ballot concerning this amendment can be confusing so to simplify: If you side with the unions, vote no. If you side with the business groups, vote yes.

Next, a proposed amendment dealing with tax exemptions for the spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty.

If you vote for this one, the widow or widower of the first responder would pay no property taxes on their home. If they remarry, then they become disqualified.

First responders are defined as police officers, firefighters, search and rescue or emergency medical services personnel.

There’s already a law that exempts spouses of veterans killed in action and veterans themselves with a 100 percent service connected permanent and total disability. 10 On Your Side did a series of special reports on that over the past year.

Understanding Virginia’s military tax exemption referendum