Do you know what will be on the ballot on Tuesday? We’re electing our next president, of course, and our next Congress. But we’ll also be voting on proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution and, in Fairfax County, voters will also decide whether to approve a meals tax to support education.
QUESTION 2 | Property Tax Exemption for First Responder Spouses
On one of the amendments —Question 2—the choice is clear. Vote “Yes” to support families of first responders who gave their all. When a married first responder is killed in the line of duty, his or her spouse must continue paying property taxes on their family home. Question 2 would allow local governments to lift that burden to honor those who sacrifice everything to keep us safe, and it will help the loved ones they leave behind.
QUESTION 1 | “Right to Work” Anti-Worker Amendment
I fought against the other Amendment—Question 1—in the General Assembly. Question 1 would make Virginia’s so-called “right to work” law a permanent part of our constitution. If it’s approved, we’ll be hurting workers’ ability to secure fair pay and good working conditions by prohibiting participation in a union as a condition for employment.
There is no need to make it more difficult for workers to get a fair deal.
When employers pay good wages, other employers feel pressure to do the same—even if they themselves lack a union presence. In other words, a rising tide lifts all boats: all workers benefit from strong, effective unions.
Regardless of how you may feel about unions, even voters who support "right to work" should think twice before supporting this amendment.
Whether or not Question 1 passes, no Virginia employer is required to recognize a union nor is any employee required to join a union. The provisions of Question 1 have been in the Code of Virginia since 1947. I oppose amending the constitution in a way that would disallow any future labor management law changes. Supporters want to write that law into the constitution not because "right to work" is in danger of repeal (it isn’t), but because they see a chance to score points with their political base.
The Virginia Constitution should guarantee rights, not deny them.
We can trace the roots of our Constitution to Mason and Madison. It lays out basic structures and protects our most fundamental rights. This is not a document we should lightly amend, we should never pollute it with needless partisanship or use it to stifle debate and discourse on important issues. It’s simply not good governance.
FAIRFAX | Meals Tax Referendum
The meals tax referendum asks Fairfax voters to allow an up-to-four percent tax on prepared food and beverages to support Fairfax County Public Schools. The tax would apply to meals at restaurants, but not to ordinary groceries. Meals taxes are already in place in Arlington County, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax City. The measure would add up to $1 to the cost of a $25 dinner. Authorizing this proposed tax would enable the county to diversify its revenue and reduce its dependency on the property tax.
Fairfax has had to cut spending in recent years, and K-12 education has suffered: adjusted for inflation, funding is down by almost $800 per student. The meals tax would repair some of that damage with 70% going directly to Fairfax County Public Schools and the rest going to support priorities like public safety and parks. Much of that revenue would come from visitors to the county, while other taxes—like a property tax increase—would fall almost entirely on County residents. No one likes higher taxes, but we can’t let Fairfax schools fall behind.
Please share your thoughts on legislation and other state-related matters with me by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@AdamEbbin) and Facebook.
It is my continued honor to represent the citizens of the 30th Senate District.
Adam P. Ebbin
Member, Senate of Virginia
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Senator Adam P. Ebbin represents the 30th Senate District, which includes portions of Arlington County, Alexandria City and Fairfax County’s Mount Vernon and Lee Magisterial Districts. Ebbin currently serves on three committees: General Laws and Technology; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Privileges & Elections.