Y’all know there’s an election tomorrow, y’all know you’re picking sides in the U.S. Senate race, between Republican George Allen and Democrat Jim Webb. But don’t forget that there are three proposed amendments to the state constitution.
Amendment 1 has gotten lots of attention — that’s the proposal to prevent two people (of any sex) from forming a contract that provides any of the privileges of marriage. Its advocates say that it would bar gay marriage, although it’s already illegal. Its opponents (including me) say that it’s a terribly-written bill that’s way too far-reaching, and will create huge hassles for folks like you and me who are looking to start a business, buy real estate, create a living will, or engage any many other routine legal transactions.
Amendment 2 would permit churches to incorporate. Currently the state constitution bars church incorporation, but the courts have ruled that unconstitutional. The goal is to make the constitution (code law) match the courts’ interpretation of it (case law). If anybody objects to this, I don’t know who they are.
Amendment 3 would allow localities to partially exempt real estate value from taxation for the purpose of rehabilitation or conservation. The amendment itself would do nothing — it would only give localities the power to provide tax breaks to encourage development if they decided to do so. Again, if anybody objects to this, I don’t know who they are.
Bob Gibson explains these in more detail in today’s Progress.
15 thoughts on “Election Tomorrow: Know the Amendments”
I was reading the official PDF documents from the state board of elections website and this seemed to confuse me even more. (They really need to include a common-man translation when posting documents like these for the public to review…..either that or I should have gone to law school… ;)
Having never voted on amendments in Virginia before, I didn’t realize interpretations weren’t provided. Hm. If memory serves, in NJ and MA, a sample of the board (it showed were the levers would be) was sent by mail and on the back, there’d be the official language of amendments, an explanation and then an interpretation. It made it much easier (and faster) to vote.
In the case of Amendment 1 there was a debate on the floor of the House about it when Del. Bob Marshall introduced it. Many people — including advocates of the bill — believed that the language was way too vague and people wouldn’t understand it. But he refused to reintroduce it with better language.
I hope anybody who intends to support Amendment 1 will read the whole thing with a critical eye. It’s pretty over the top.
Amendment #1 is very broad but even if it were narrower and was focused slolely on gay marriage I would vote against it. It’s none of the governments business if people want to marry someone of the same gender. If they are willing to make a committment then they are entitled to the benefits and protections of marriage.
As for Amendment #3: Why should local governments get any more opportunities to shift taxes from businesses onto the rest of us? They already have too much authority to do this as it is now. The Paramount Theatre gets a tax break and the rest of us pay more. I am voting against it. So called “tax breaks” are only shifts of the tax burden to those who are ineligible for the “tax break”.
i think amendment #3 is only a constitutional amendment authorizing the GA to pass legislation allowing a locality to provide the partial exemption bit. it’s not a free pass for localities to do this. they would still have to go to the GA for specific approval or get the GA to pass legislation for all localities. as the constitution stands now, the GA can’t even consider this should a locality make the request.
i think the flexibility is a good thing (if i’m reading the amendment correctly).
and to answer the question: “Why should local governments get any more opportunities to shift taxes from businesses onto the rest of us?”… maybe the voters in that locality want them to. higher taxes and a job rather than lower taxes and unemployment.
Amendment # 3 is very likely going to pass but anyway…
So the voters want it. Big deal. Just because the voters want something doesn’t at all mean it’s a good idea. The voters approved the demolition of the Vinegar Hill nieghborhood and who knows what kind of racist insanity they would have approved during the days of massive resistance.
You can be sure that once this amendment passes the General Assembly will pass legislation, and quickly, to allow local politicians to dole out juicy tax breaks to their developer campaign contributors and friends.
Development that is a worthwhile source of jobs can pay it’s own way rather than depend on residential real estate and sales taxes to cover the costs that new development generates. I believe that the Paramont Theatre would have been rebuilt even if they hadn’t gotten the tax break from the city.
Not a fan of Jacksonian democracy, are you? :)
it doesn’t matter about Amendment 1. If it gets pass, some judge will over turn it.
It’s a constitutional amendment — it’s extremely difficult to overturn, not least of why is because the state judiciary has no power to overturn a constitutional amendment. Only a federal judge may do so, which isn’t particularly likely.
It’s best that we not figure we can undo this mistake. Short of a sweeping national change (which could happen — I hope it does) it’ll take another constitutional amendment to undo this.
The last time I voted on VA Constitutional Amendments (two years ago, as I recall), I could not for the life of me find out how they turned out. I’ll grant you, I didn’t comb the earth trying to find the news, but a good three or so minutes on google turned up nothing useful, and that’s crazy. Is there a good place to find that information quickly?
The newspaper articles covering the election were definitely focused on the candidates, and I vaguely recall that maybe there was less urgency on the amendment, whether because tallying took longer (seems unlikely), or maybe there were more steps after. I dunno.
Results, minute-by-minute for the current election, as well as archived old elections, are at:
Virginia State Board of Elections,
It’s down right now! Happy election tomorrow!
Waldo is right about 1, judges won’t touch it, except to interpret the fine points, such as whether it guts protection from domestic violence for unmarried couples. If you could call that a fine point. Some say that is fear-mongering…
Good heavens — as if the entire amendment isn’t fear mongering!
Kevin Cox “So the voters want it. Big deal. Just because the voters want something doesn’t at all mean it’s a good idea.”
Right on. That is one facet of the good side of the Machivellian approach to government which wisely stressed “power governing” for the overall good, as opposed to “divine guidance” rule, as (then) with royalty. Of course “old Mach” had some bad points too.
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