October 31, 2016 Newsletter

On the 2016 ballot, most people have been focusing on the presidential race. In Virginia, two proposed constitutional amendments will also be on the ballot for people to vote on in November.

One of the ballots involves tax exemptions for certain spouses of emergency services providers, and would allow those surviving spouses of emergency service providers killed in the line of duty to have more property tax exemptions. If it passes, the amendment will allow localities to decide whether or not to allow the exemption.

The second proposed amendment is a right-to-work amendment involving labor unions. The question on the ballot, word for word, states:

Should Article I 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?

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, Virginia's current right-to-work law states that union membership cannot be a condition of employment. If Virginia voters approved adding this into the constitution, it would make it much more difficult for labor laws to change in the future, according to Department of Elections materials.

The law, currently, could be amended by any future general assembly. If it is voted into the constitution, the amendment could only be changed by a future vote of the general public.

Putting this amendment in the constitution is important.  Even though right to work is already the law, Constitutional protections are stronger and harder to overturn.  The right to work and work without fear of coercion should be permanently enshrined in our state bill of rights.

Voters can learn more details about both amendments at elections.viginia.gov before Nov. 8.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help assist with in any way, please do not hesitate to call me (434) 821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov. You can also keep up with me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.

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