State constitutional amendments on November ballot

State senators George Barker and Linda “Toddy” Puller are working to educate voters about the three state constitutional amendments on the ballot in the Nov. 2 general elections.

An amendment sponsored by Barker, D-Alexandria, gives counties and cities complete flexibility regarding property tax relief for elderly or disabled persons.

“I have found that many older people, often those in their 80s and 90s, have limited incomes and are not able to enjoy their retirement as they should because of property taxes,” said Barker. He continued, “Some do not qualify for relief because of assets that they are saving for possible critical needs, such as for long-term care. This amendment would give counties and cities the ability to help those older residents.”

An amendment helping disabled veterans is sponsored by Puller, D-Mount Vernon. If the amendment passes, the General Assembly will be required to pass a bill to exempt from local taxation the principal residence owned and occupied by any veteran with a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability. The veteran’s surviving spouse could continue to claim the exemption so long as he or she does not remarry and continues to occupy the home as his or her principal residence.

“There are slightly over 7,000 100 percent disabled veterans in the Commonwealth according to the Virginia Department of Veterans Services,” Puller said. “This has been one of the top initiatives of the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service organization for several years. Passing this Constitutional Amendment could be of assistance to those who have served in our Military Services and helped protect our freedoms.”

The third ballot question, the Rainy Day Fund amendment, was also sponsored by Barker.

“This amendment would increase the size of the Rainy Day Fund by 50 percent. When the Fund now reaches the 10 percent cap, additional revenues are spent elsewhere rather than a portion being saved in the rainy day fund,” said Barker. “I think we should do what Virginia families do: continue to put some money aside when times are good. That is fiscally responsible. During the recent major recession, Virginia revenues decreased significantly, falling far short of projections. Because the size of the rainy day fund was modest, it provided only a little help when revenues dropped.

The amendments are proposed on a bipartisan basis, with the two Senate sponsors being Democrats and Republicans John O’Bannon and Mark Cole being the patrons in the House of Delegates. They become part of the Virginia Constitution if approved by the voters.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

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