This election season, there are two amendments to the state constitution on the ballot in Virginia. These amendments have already been approved by a majority of both legislative houses, allowing them to be placed on the ballot for state voters’ approval. If an amendment is voted up by a simple majority, it will officially become part of the state’s constitution. The two amendments would…
1) … prohibit governments in Virginia, state and local, from taking private property to build on if the primary use of the building will be private profit. Currently, governments can exercise eminent domain, meaning they can take property from citizens if they pay for it, to use for the greater good. For example, the government can force someone to sell their land to be used for building of roads or schools. A 2005 Supreme Court case held that sometimes the greater good is not public, like the building of a privately owned shopping mall that provides jobs. This amendment would limit Virginia governments to only exercising eminent domain specifically for public projects. It defines more extensively how the government must compensate people from whom it takes property and it prohibits the taking of more property than is necessary.
2) … allow the state’s General Assembly to delay its reconvened or “veto” session by up to one week. At the end of each legislative session the GA reconvenes to consider bills that the Governor has sent back, by vetoing or suggesting changes. Currently that session must begin on the sixth Wednesday following the end of a legislative session. This amendment would give the legislature added flexibility in accommodating holidays, if necessary.
Full text of the amendments can be found online here, including an informational brochure and poster created by the State Board of Elections.