Proposed Amendments for 2020

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT #1

Article II. Franchise and Officers.
Section 6. Apportionment.

Section 6-A. Virginia Redistricting Commission

BALLOT QUESTION

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?

EXPLANATION

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.


Proposed Law:

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.

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.

FULL TEXT OF AMENDMENT

[Proposed new language is underlined. Deleted old language
is stricken.]

Amend Section 6 of Article II of the Constitution of Virginia and amend the Constitution of
Virginia by adding in Article II a section numbered 6-A as follows:

ARTICLE II
FRANCHISE AND OFFICERS

Section 6. Apportionment.

Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of
the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts
established by the General Assembly pursuant to Section 6-A of this Constitution. Every
electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so
constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of
the district. Every electoral district shall be drawn in accordance with the requirements of federal
and state laws that address racial and ethnic fairness, including the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and provisions of the Voting
Rights Act of 1965, as amended, and judicial decisions interpreting such laws. Districts shall
provide, where practicable, opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of
their choice.
The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth shall be reapportioned into electoral
districts in accordance with this section and Section 6-A in the year 2011 2021 and every ten
years thereafter.
Any such decennial reapportionment law shall take effect immediately and not be subject to the
limitations contained in Article IV, Section 13, of this Constitution.
The districts delineated in the decennial reapportionment law shall be implemented for the
November general election for the United States House of Representatives, Senate, or House of
Delegates, respectively, that is held immediately prior to the expiration of the term being served
in the year that the reapportionment law is required to be enacted. A member in office at the time
that a decennial redistricting law is enacted shall complete his term of office and shall continue
to represent the district from which he was elected for the duration of such term of office so long
as he does not move his residence from the district from which he was elected. Any vacancy
occurring during such term shall be filled from the same district that elected the member whose
vacancy is being filled.

Section 6-A. Virginia Redistricting Commission.

(a) In the year 2020 and every ten years thereafter, the Virginia Redistricting Commission (the
Commission) shall be convened for the purpose of establishing districts for the United States
House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General
Assembly pursuant to Article II, Section 6 of this Constitution.

(b) The Commission shall consist of sixteen commissioners who shall be selected in accordance
with the provisions of this subsection.
(1) Eight commissioners shall be legislative members, four of whom shall be members of the
Senate of Virginia and four of whom shall be members of the House of Delegates. These
commissioners shall be appointed no later than December 1 of the year ending in zero and shall
continue to serve until their successors are appointed.
(A) Two commissioners shall represent the political party having the highest number of members
in the Senate of Virginia and shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate of
Virginia.
(B) Two commissioners shall represent the political party having the next highest number of
members in the Senate of Virginia and shall be appointed by the leader of that political party.
(C) Two commissioners shall represent the political party having the highest number of members
in the House of Delegates and shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates.
(D) Two commissioners shall represent the political party having the next highest number of
members in the House of Delegates and shall be appointed by the leader of that political party.
(2) Eight commissioners shall be citizen members who shall be selected in accordance with the
provisions of this subdivision and in the manner determined by the General Assembly by general
law.
(A) There shall be a Redistricting Commission Selection Committee (the Committee) consisting
of five retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia. By November 15 of the year ending in
zero, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia shall certify to the Speaker of the House
of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest
number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of
Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of Virginia of the political party having the next highest
number of members in the Senate a list of retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia who are
willing to serve on the Committee, and these members shall each select a judge from the list. The
four judges selected to serve on the Committee shall select, by a majority vote, a judge from the
list prescribed herein to serve as the fifth member of the Committee and to serve as the chairman
of the Committee.
(B) By January 1 of the year ending in one, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in
the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the
House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the
Senate of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate shall each
submit to the Committee a list of at least sixteen citizen candidates for service on the
Commission. Such citizen candidates shall meet the criteria established by the General Assembly
by general law. The Committee shall select, by a majority vote, two citizen members from each list submitted. No member or employee of the Congress of the United States or of the General Assembly shall be eligible to serve as a citizen member.

(c) By February 1 of the year ending in one, the Commission shall hold a public meeting at
which it shall select a chairman from its membership. The chairman shall be a citizen member
and shall be responsible for coordinating the work of the Commission.

(d) The Commission shall submit to the General Assembly plans for districts for the Senate and
the House of Delegates of the General Assembly no later than 45 days following the receipt of
census data and shall submit to the General Assembly plans for districts for the United States
House of Representatives no later than 60 days following the receipt of census data or by the first
day of July of that year, whichever occurs later.
(1) To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the United States House of
Representatives, a plan shall receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative
members and six of the eight citizen members.
(2) To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the Senate, a plan shall
receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative members, including at least three
of the four legislative members who are members of the Senate, and at least six of the eight
citizen members.
(3) To be submitted as a proposed plan for districts for members of the House of Delegates, a
plan shall receive affirmative votes of at least six of the eight legislative members, including at
least three of the four legislative members who are members of the House of Delegates, and at
least six of the eight citizen members.

(e) Plans for districts for the Senate and the House of Delegates shall be embodied in and voted
on as a single bill. The vote on any bill embodying a plan for districts shall be taken in
accordance with the provisions of Article IV, Section 11 of this Constitution, except that no
amendments shall be permitted. Such bills shall not be subject to the provisions contained in
Article V, Section 6 of this Constitution.

(f) Within fifteen days of receipt of a plan for districts, the General Assembly shall take a vote on
the bill embodying that plan in accordance with the provisions of subsection (e). If the General
Assembly fails to adopt such bill by this deadline, the Commission shall submit a new plan for
districts to the General Assembly within fourteen days of the General Assembly's failure to adopt
the bill. The General Assembly shall take a vote on the bill embodying such plan within seven
days of receipt of the plan. If the General Assembly fails to adopt such bill by this deadline, the
districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

(g) If the Commission fails to submit a plan for districts by the deadline set forth in subsection (d), the Commission shall have fourteen days following its initial failure to submit a plan to the General Assembly. If the Commission fails to submit a plan for districts to the General Assembly by this deadline, the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia. If the Commission submits a plan for districts within fourteen days following its initial failure to submit a plan, the General Assembly shall take a vote on the bill embodying such plan within seven days of its receipt. If the General Assembly fails to adopt such bill by this deadline, the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

(h) All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public. Prior to proposing any
redistricting plans and prior to voting on redistricting plans, the Commission shall hold at least
three public hearings in different parts of the Commonwealth to receive and consider comments
from the public.

(i) All records and documents of the Commission, or any individual or group performing
delegated functions of or advising the Commission, related to the Commission's work, including
internal communications and communications from outside parties, shall be considered public
information.


PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT #2

Article X. Taxation and Finance.

Section 6. Exempt Property

BALLOT QUESTION

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?

EXPLANATION

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.


Proposed Law

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.

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.

FULL TEXT OF AMENDMENT

[Proposed new language is underlined. Deleted old language
is stricken.]

Amend Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia as follows:

ARTICLE X
TAXATION AND FINANCE 

Section 6. Exempt property.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, the following property and no other shall
be exempt from taxation, State and local, including inheritance taxes:

(1) Property owned directly or indirectly by the Commonwealth or any political subdivision
thereof, and obligations of the Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof exempt by
law.

(2) Real estate and personal property owned and exclusively occupied or used by churches or
religious bodies for religious worship or for the residences of their ministers.

(3) Private or public burying grounds or cemeteries, provided the same are not operated for
profit.

(4) Property owned by public libraries or by institutions of learning not conducted for profit, so
long as such property is primarily used for literary, scientific, or educational purposes or
purposes incidental thereto. This provision may also apply to leasehold interests in such property
as may be provided by general law.

(5) Intangible personal property, or any class or classes thereof, as may be exempted in whole or
in part by general law.

(6) Property used by its owner for religious, charitable, patriotic, historical, benevolent, cultural,
or public park and playground purposes, as may be provided by classification or designation by
an ordinance adopted by the local governing body and subject to such restrictions and conditions
as provided by general law.

(7) Land subject to a perpetual easement permitting inundation by water as may be exempted in
whole or in part by general law.

(8) One motor vehicle owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the armed forces of the
United States or the Virginia National Guard who has been rated by the United States
Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law with a one
hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability. For purposes of this
subdivision, the term "motor vehicle" shall include only automobiles and pickup trucks. Any
such motor vehicle owned by a married person may qualify if either spouse is a veteran who is one hundred percent disabled pursuant to this subdivision. This exemption shall be applicable on the date the motor vehicle is acquired or the effective date of this subdivision, whichever is later, but shall not be applicable for any period of time prior to the effective date.

(b) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city,
town, or regional government to provide for the exemption from local property taxation, or a
portion thereof, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, of real
estate and personal property designed for continuous habitation owned by, and occupied as the
sole dwelling of, persons not less than sixty-five years of age or persons permanently and totally
disabled as established by general law. A local governing body may be authorized to establish
either income or financial worth limitations, or both, in order to qualify for such relief.

(c) Except as to property of the Commonwealth, the General Assembly by general law may
restrict or condition, in whole or in part, but not extend, any or all of the above exemptions.

(d) The General Assembly may define as a separate subject of taxation any property, including
real or personal property, equipment, facilities, or devices, used primarily for the purpose of
abating or preventing pollution of the atmosphere or waters of the Commonwealth or for the
purpose of transferring or storing solar energy, and by general law may allow the governing body
of any county, city, town, or regional government to exempt or partially exempt such property
from taxation, or by general law may directly exempt or partially exempt such property from
taxation.

(e) The General Assembly may define as a separate subject of taxation household goods,
personal effects and tangible farm property and products, and by general law may allow the
governing body of any county, city, town, or regional government to exempt or partially exempt
such property from taxation, or by general law may directly exempt or partially exempt such
property from taxation.

(f) Exemptions of property from taxation as established or authorized hereby shall be strictly
construed; provided, however, that all property exempt from taxation on the effective date of this
section shall continue to be exempt until otherwise provided by the General Assembly as herein
set forth.

(g) The General Assembly may by general law authorize any county, city, town, or regional
government to impose a service charge upon the owners of a class or classes of exempt property
for services provided by such governments.

(h) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city,
town, or regional government to provide for a partial exemption from local real property
taxation, within such restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, (i) of real estate
whose improvements, by virtue of age and use, have undergone substantial renovation,
rehabilitation or replacement or (ii) of real estate with new structures and improvements in
conservation, redevelopment, or rehabilitation areas.

(i) The General Assembly may by general law allow the governing body of any county, city, or
town to exempt or partially exempt from taxation any generating equipment installed after
December thirty-one, nineteen hundred seventy-four, for the purpose of converting from oil or
natural gas to coal or to wood, wood bark, wood residue, or to any other alternate energy source
for manufacturing, and any co-generation equipment installed since such date for use in
manufacturing.

(j) The General Assembly may by general law allow the governing body of any county, city, or
town to have the option to exempt or partially exempt from taxation any business, occupational
or professional license or any merchants' capital, or both.

(k) The General Assembly may by general law authorize the governing body of any county, city,
or town to provide for a partial exemption from local real property taxation, within such
restrictions and upon such conditions as may be prescribed, of improved real estate subject to
recurrent flooding upon which flooding abatement, mitigation, or resiliency efforts have been
undertaken.