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2020 Virginia Beach Elections: Overview of Ballot Measures

THE INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ed. — The following are overviews of two ballot measures that will be decided in the Tuesday, Nov. 3, elections. The print edition containing our full voter guide is now on stands. Please reach me with any questions or concerns via email.


PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 1

[Vote yes or no]

Article II. Franchise and Officers; Section 6. Apportionment; Section 6-A. Virginia Redistricting Commission

The ballot question reads: Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?

Ed. — An explanation via the Virginia Department of Elections follows.

What is the current law? Under the current Constitution, the General Assembly and the Governor are responsible for drawing new election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate, and the House of Delegates. These districts are required to be compact and contiguous, and to have populations that are equal to each other.

What would the proposed law do? The proposed amendment would shift the responsibility of drawing these election districts from the General Assembly and the Governor to a bipartisan commission, made up of 16 persons, half being members of the General Assembly and half being citizens of the Commonwealth. This commission would draw the election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate, and the House of Delegates and then submit the maps to the General Assembly for approval. If the commissioners are unable to agree on proposals for maps by a certain date, or if the General Assembly does not approve the submitted maps by a certain date, the commission is allotted additional time to draw new districts, but if maps are not then submitted or approved, the Supreme Court of Virginia becomes responsible for drawing these election districts.

The eight legislative commissioners are appointed by the political party leadership in the state Senate and the House of Delegates, with an equal number from each house and from each major political party. The eight citizen commissioners are picked by a committee of five retired circuit court judges. Four of the retired judges are selected by party leaders in the Senate and the House from a list compiled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. These four judges pick the fifth judge from the same list. This selection committee then chooses citizen commissioners from lists created by party leaders in the Senate and the House. Members and employees of Congress or the General Assembly cannot be citizen commissioners. Each party leader in each house gives the selection committee a list of at least 16 candidates, and the committee picks two from each list for a total of eight citizen commissioners.

For a plan to be submitted for the General Assembly’s approval, at least six of the eight citizen commissioners and at least six of the eight legislative commissioners must agree to it. Additionally, for plans for General Assembly districts to be submitted, at least three of the four Senators on the commission have to agree to the Senate districts plan and at least three of the four Delegates on the commission have to agree to the House of Delegates districts plan.

The General Assembly cannot make any changes to these plans, and the Governor cannot veto any plan approved by the General Assembly. The amendment also adds a requirement that districts provide, where practicable, opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of their choice.

In summary: A “yes” vote will make a bipartisan commission responsible for the initial drawing of election districts. A “no” vote will leave the sole responsibility for drawing the districts with the General Assembly and the Governor.


PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 2

[Vote yes or no]

Article X. Taxation and Finance; Section 6. Exempt Property

The ballot question reads: Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?

Ed. — An explanation via the Virginia Department of Elections follows.

What is the current law? Generally, the Constitution of Virginia requires all property be taxed. However, there are certain types of property that the Constitution specifically says is not subject to taxation.

What would the proposed law do? This amendment would add to the list of property that is not subject to state or local taxation one motor vehicle owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-connected, permanent, and total disability. The amendment says that motor vehicle means an automobile or pickup truck.

The motor vehicle would be exempt from taxation beginning on the date the veteran gets the motor vehicle or January 1, 2021, whichever is later. A veteran who claims this tax exemption would not get back any taxes paid on his motor vehicle prior to January 1, 2021.

Under this amendment, a motor vehicle that is owned by the spouse of a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard with a one hundred percent (100% service-connected, permanent, and total disability could also be free from taxation.

The General Assembly is allowed to pass a law that places conditions or restrictions on this exemption.

In summary: A “yes” vote will mean the Constitution of Virginia will be amended to exempt one automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-connected, permanent, and total disability from state and local taxation.

A “no” vote will leave the Constitution of Virginia unchanged and automobiles and pickup trucks owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-connected, permanent, and total disability will continue to be subject to state and local taxes.


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