Category Archives: News

Lorton Workhouse Arts Center Fireworks Show

The Lorton Workhouse Art Center’s annual 4th of July fireworks show is coming up! Here’s a message from the Workhouse:

Come join us for Fireworks at the Workhouse! 

Saturday, July 1, 2017 – 5:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Admission to the Show: FREE

Admission for vehicle parking: $20 per car (cash at the gate)

Admission to exclusive VIP lounge: $50 per person (children under 12 are free)

Enjoy the Workhouse Arts Center’s annual fireworks display with a unique VIP Experience! Only VIP ticket holders will receive access to the Springfield Outback Steakhouse Lounge in the McGuireWoods Gallery. VIPs will receive complimentary reserved preferred parking, a private indoor concert from musician Heather Renee and reserved premium seating for the fireworks display. Your VIP ticket also includes buffet-style offerings sponsored and provided by the Springfield Outback Steakhouse along with two beverage tokens, each of which may be exchanged for a single serving of beer, wine or soft drinks. Additional beverages may be purchased a la carte from the VIP Private Bartenders.  Buy Tickets Here:

Volunteer opportunities:  Come volunteer during Fireworks and get free parking, free show, free food, and a free “I did hard time at the Workhouse” t-shirt!  Bartenders, ABC monitors, gallery sitters, and more – 2 hour shifts!  Sign up here:

We’re thrilled to announce that music sensation Shane Gamble will be headlining our entertainment during Workhouse Fireworks! Even better, Shane will be returning to the Workhouse on August 12th for Workhouse Brewfest! Enjoy the video for Shane’s song “Summertime Dream.”


Delegate Dave Albo Announces His Retirement After 24 Years in the House of Delegates

Next to marrying Rita and adopting Ben, serving the people of West Springfield, Fairfax Station, South County, Mason Neck, and Mount Vernon has been the greatest honor of my life. I grew up here and did what I could for 24 years to keep our neighborhoods the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

After much thought, I have decided not to seek reelection to the House of Delegates this coming November. While I still enjoy the job and love the public service, I can no longer afford to take 80+ days a year off work to serve in the General Assembly. In addition, I don’t have a monopoly on all the good ideas – there are lots of very capable public servants living in my district who can do a great job. It’s not “my seat,” it is the people of our neighborhoods’ seat, and I am sure there is someone out there who would like to serve.

Many do not realize that I hold George Washington’s and George Mason’s seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Wow – I got to do the same job as these Founding Fathers! I started out as an intern in 1986. I was first elected in 1993, and have had the honor of serving as Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee for the past 12 years. This has enabled me to do lots of great things to help people. Nothing great is achieved alone, so don’t think I take sole credit for these, but I would humbly say that I played a lead role in bills which accomplished the following:

  • Authored the Northern Virginia sections of the 2013 Transportation Act that raises money for roads and rail with the iron clad guarantee that it stays in NOVA
  • Closed literally hundreds of loopholes in the DUI and criminal laws to keep people safe
  • Helped build South County High School
  • Wrote most of the laws to fight gangs
  • Preserved thousands of acres of open space
  • Made certain types of abuse of companion animals a felony
  • Closed the loophole that allowed the VA Tech killer to acquire a gun
  • Helped people with mental health problems by establishing Mandated Outpatient Treatment
  • Allowed oil derived from Marijuana to be used to treat intractable epilepsy
  • Rewrote Virginia’s adoption laws to make it easier for children to be adopted
  • Following 9/11 when 10 of my constituents were incinerated in the Pentagon, I passed the first law in the U.S. to require legal presence in Virginia to obtain a Driver’s License, and passed Virginia’s Anti-Terrorism law which gave police new legal tools to catch terrorists and apply the death penalty for terrorism
  • Massively increased punishments on child molesters
  • Modernized Virginia’s Computer Crimes Act
  • Co-created Judicial Performance Evaluation system
  • Required all people arrested for a crime to be checked for immigration status
  • Two little things that we all liked: Banned commercial truck parking on our Fairfax County residential streets, and banned signs on the sides of our streets and in the medians
  • While it was not my bill, I wrote the language that bans smoking in restaurants
  • Changed the word “which” to “that” in the speeding code — just checking to see if you are actually reading this. Thought it might be too boring. And yes, I actually did change “which” to “that.” If you really want to be bored, e-mail me and I will explain it!

For a full list of legislation I have sponsored, visit my website:

George Washington started our long history of the “citizen-legislator” when he declined to run for another term as President so he could return to being a regular citizen. He went back to Mount Vernon to be a farmer. Likewise, I will continue my career as a criminal and traffic defense attorney. I look forward to transitioning my House of Delegates office to the new public servant who is elected to serve.

Again, it has been one of the greatest privileges to serve our neighborhood, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

Best Regards,

David B. Albo

Joe Chudzik Wins Fairfax County Volunteer Citizen of the Year

This weekend I presented the  Fairfax County Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award to Mr. Joseph Chuzik. Joe has been working tirelessly for years to keep our community clean, and I am glad I got to take part in honoring him with this award. Here we are with his wife, Faith.

Dave and Joe Chudzik

Explanation of Federal Repeal and Replace of the Affordable Care Act

Here is a message from the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones on how the federal government plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act:

Chairman Jones Memo Regarding Federal Health Care Reform

Final Week of Session 2017

Tomorrow marks the end of Session 2017. It’s hard to believe that seven weeks have already gone by! Here is a picture of our office in the House Chamber: img_0155

You can see our Crossover Update on the blog here:

We had a lot of students visit the office on Monday to see the artwork that they created and graciously lent to us to hang in the office.

During Session on Monday, Speaker Howell announced his retirement. He will not be running for re-election in this coming election cycle. Speaker Howell has served as a Delegate for 29 years, and as Speaker for 14 years. He was an outstanding leader and legislator, and I am grateful for his years of public service. Below is a video of my remarks honoring the Speaker:

Also on Monday, I introduced HR 351 honoring my constituent, Ginny Thrasher. Ms. Thrasher won the first gold medal of the Rio Olympics. Her first place finish in Women’s 10-meter air rifle set an Olympic record, shooting 208.0 in the final. We are so proud of our WSHS graduate for representing the US!

Unfortunately, she could not be with us in the capitol at the time due to NCAA rules, but she did watch via the live House feed from West Virginia University where she studies biomedical engineering. Below is my introduction of HR 351 recognizing Ms. Thrasher on her great accomplishments:

On Tuesday, we honored Col. Edward Shames on the House floor. Col. Shames was a Lieutenant in World War II, jumped into Normandy, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, liberated Dachau concentration camp, and took a bottle of cognac from Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest.” If this story sounds familiar, it’s because he and his “Easy Company” were depicted in Band of Brothers.

We have been visited by Super Bowl Winners, Olympic Gold Medalists, the Queen of England, the Vice President, and actual rock stars – but the enthusiastic standing ovation by all 100 members of the House of Delegates for Col. Shames was bigger than what these famous people received, and deservedly so.


2017 Crossover Update

                             ENCOURAGING JOB GROWTH                                 

Virginia is still a leading job creator in the United States, and ranks in the top 10 in the country for:

  • “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine
  • “Best States to Make a Living” by Business Insider and
  • “The Top States for Higher Education” by com
  • “The K-12 Achievement Index” by Educational Week and Quality Counts
  • “NAEP Combined Proficiency Rate: 4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math” by Educational Week and Quality Counts

More importantly, we have lowered our unemployment rate by 2.5% between 2012 (6.9%) and 2017 (4.4%) and have the 8th lowest combined state and local tax burden in the country!

However, things are not all roses and puppy dogs.  For decades, the economy in Northern Virginia has benefited from Federal Government spending, but with the recent cuts and the sequestration, our once invincible economy is starting to stammer.  Currently, Fairfax County has a 0% growth rate.  This is a big problem.  In order to create more jobs and increase economic growth, we need to reduce our dependency on the Federal Government and diversify our NOVA economy.  For this reason, I have invested a great deal of time in helping Fairfax INOVA start their Translational Medicine Institute right here in Fairfax County.  The institute combines gene mapping, massive computing power, and clinical trials to develop medications based on a person’s individual DNA code.  Personalized medicine could be an economic game changer.  I even took an online class to further my knowledge on genetics and DNA!  By making our County a national leader in the field of genetics, I hope to make Fairfax County the world’s center for personalized medicine, and therefore create an economic engine in NOVA for years to come.


Getting Our Kids into VA Universities:

HB 1410 – Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. (Albo Chief Patron) For years, I have been working with a bipartisan group of Delegates to make colleges more affordable and accessible to our Virginia students.  My HB 1410 does three things.  First, it creates a study so that colleges can eventually stop using tuition from one Virginia student to provide financial aid for another student.  This practice is unfair to students working a job after classes to pay their way through school, and to parents who are working hard to provide for their kids.  Their hard earned money should be used solely for their education or their child’s education.  Second, it creates an incentive for colleges to have at least 70% in-state student enrollment rates, and requires any tuition earned from out-of-state students over the 30% limit be used to lower in-state tuition.  Lastly, it mandates the Board of Visitors to complete training to remind them that their duty is primarily to the people of Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Our Environment:

HB 1423 – Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would direct the DEQ to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that gets into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine how the owner can bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  My idea was incorporated into Delegate Lingamfelter’s HB 2383.

Albo voted “YES”. HB 2383 passed the House.

Helping Families Going Through Divorces:

HB 1456 – Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. (Albo Chief Patron) I have seen many divorce cases argued in court, and know that it must be a stressful time for parents and children.  This bill provides that the court, in its discretion and in referring to a parent, may use the phrase “parenting time” as synonymous with the term “visitation” in a custody or visitation order.  The option to use the term “parenting time” would ensure that no one parent is made to feel less important than another during this already difficult time.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Developing Our Area’s Culture and Arts:

HB 1486 – Arts and cultural districts. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would allow two or more localities to join together to create an arts and cultural district.  We are trying to combine the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center with the events and art in Occoquan with this legislation.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Your Purchases:

HB 1825 – Rights to resell tickets; civil penalty. (Albo Chief Patron) As a citizen legislator, I bring my own experiences with me to the House of Delegates.  This past year, I splurged on two tickets to see Iron Maiden, only to learn that they conflicted with my family’s vacation.  Because of the restrictions on ticket resale imposed by Ticketmaster, I couldn’t resell the tickets, had to miss the show, and lost my money.  This bill would end those restrictions.  Under HB 1825, any ticket vendor would be prohibited from imposing any rules that would create a substantial obstacle to the ticket holder’s resale of the ticket.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.




Making Sure Virginians are Running our Virginia Schools:
HB 1402 –  Higher educational institutions, public; certain positions require residency of the Commonwealth.
This bill would require each chairman, vice-chairman, rector, and vice-rector of public Virginia colleges to be a Virginia resident.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Helping Our Students Grow in the Computer Science Field:

HB 1663 – Computer Science for All Virginia Students Advisory Committee, etc.; established. Through the establishment of a public-private partnership, this bill encourages and helps fund computer science training and professional development for public school teachers throughout Virginia.  HB 1663 works to improve computer literacy for children and adults in public schools across the Commonwealth.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Parents Informed About Their Kids’ Education:

HB 2191 – School boards; procedures; sexually explicit instructional materials or related academic activities. (Albo Chief Co-Patron) I co-authored this bill, because parents should have all the information available when it comes to their kids’ education.  This bill would require schools to notify parents when students are required to read sexually explicit material and to offer an alternative reading if it is requested.  The bill would not ban any books from schools, it would simply notify parents if a reading has sexually explicit content.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.


My aforementioned HB 1410 is intended to increase the number of in-state slots, but some schools are already moving in the right direction!  Virginia Tech added 507 in-state slots for the 2016-2017 school year.  The University of Virginia added 843 in-state slots in the last five years, increasing its percentage of in-state students from 67.2% to 69%.  James Madison University increased its percentage of in-state students from 72.2% in 2012 to 74.5% this year.  Some schools have been lacking, though, as William and Mary only added 103 in-state slots over the last five years.  I am glad to see that most of our universities are supporting our Virginia students, but there is more work to be done!


Funding for our Schools:

The House proposed budget for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 delivers $21,871,425 MORE to Fairfax County Public Schools.  That is an increase of over $115 per student.  Over the past five years we have delivered $353/student/year more to our Fairfax County Public Schools!


Providing Women’s Healthcare:

HB 2267 – Health benefit plans; coverage for hormonal contraceptives. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill states that health plans that provide hormonal contraceptives must provide a 12-month supply to the patient.  It does not mandate that it all be provided at once, but that women have annual access to this healthcare.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Monitoring Opioid Prescriptions:

HB 1885 – Prescription of opioids; limits. This is one of the bills put forward to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia.  The epidemic is partly enabled by the difficulty in tracking and monitoring prescriptions.  This bill would require a prescriber registered with the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to request information about a patient from the PMP before prescribing them any opioids.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.


Enforcing Federal Immigration Law:

HB 1468 – Compliance with detainers; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This bill would prohibit a jail or law enforcement agency from releasing a person who is incarcerated and is an illegal alien when the jail has already received a lawful detainer order from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This legislation would simply ensure that our state agencies comply with existing federal law.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Prosecuting Drunk Drivers:

HB 2327 – DUI; implied consent; refusal of blood or breath tests. This bill was offered in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled that criminal penalties for refusing a blood alcohol content test for a DUI was unconstitutional.  HB 2327 changes the penalties associated with refusal for repeat DUI offenders to make it constitutional.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Virginians from Fraud:

HB 2417 – Department of Medical Assistance Services; fraud prevention; prepayment analytics. (Albo Co-Patron) HB 2417 creates a computer monitoring system aimed at reducing fraud with payments made through the state program for medical assistance.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Combatting Terrorism in Virginia:

HB 2410 – Providing support to terrorist organizations; penalty. Our code previously lacked provisions that specifically punished those associated with terrorism when the actual act of terror occurred outside of Virginia.  Under this bill, any person who knowingly aids a terrorist organization will be guilty of a Class 3 felony.  If the assistance results in someone’s death, that charge is increased to a Class 2 felony.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Our Kids Safe from Sex Offenders:

HB 1485 – Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. (Albo Co-Patron) In order to protect our children, this bill prohibits those who have been convicted of sex offenses in other states or foreign countries from residing or being in places where children frequent.  The bill applies to anyone who has been convicted of an offense that is similar to the any of the offenses qualified as sex offenses in Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.


Commemorating Women’s Right to Vote:

HB 2348 – Women’s Right to Vote, Commission for the Commemoration of the Centennial of; established. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill creates a commission to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.  2017 marks 100 years since the turning point of the Suffrage Movement.  The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be built in Occoquan Regional Park, where the Occoquan Workhouse was located.  Scores of suffragists were unjustly imprisoned in the Workhouse.  The national memorial will educate, inspire, and give people the opportunity to reflect.  My grandmother was a suffragette, and I remember her telling me stories about it when I was a kid.  This bill will help to commemorate her and all the women who fought for their right to vote.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

WSHS Renovation Begins:

West Springfield High School is in the midst of a renovation.  Drive by when you get a chance to see the progress on the building!


I know this was a lot of information, but we have accomplished a lot so far in Richmond.  Please contact me by email at, or by phone at (703) 451-3555 with any questions or concerns.  You can also view updates on my blog,  After all, my job is not to do what I want to do, but rather, to do what you want!

Sixth Week of Session 2017

We are finishing up our second to last week in Richmond, so I have been working hard in committee meetings and on the floor to discuss and vote on legislation.

This week I introduced HR 386, which commended my constituent, Eddie Garretson, for his contributions to the 42nd District and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Eddie started a non-profit called Eddies Club, Inc. that offers a variety of activities to disabled kids, teens and young adults. Eddie’s Club manages Springfield Challenger Baseball, which is a division of West Springfield Little League for children with special needs.

Below is a video of my introduction of Eddie on the House floor. We were glad to have Eddie and his family members, as well as one of the original members of Eddie’s Club, in Richmond for his recognition.

The scheduled end date for session is next Saturday, February 25, so in the coming week I will be working hard to get my bills passed and to vote on the Senate bills that make it to the House floor.

FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Earlier this week, the GSA hosted a transportation update meeting about the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project, and I wanted to share some of the meeting’s highlights with you.

The purpose of this meeting was to share information from the GSA’s study on how relocating the FBI to Springfield would affect current transportation in our community. For those of you who don’t know, Springfield is being considered as a possible location for the FBI’s new headquarters – the other two options are in Greenbelt and Landover, Maryland. The final decision on whether the FBI headquarters will move to Springfield is going to be announced sometime in April, and the construction is expected to be completed by 2027. If Springfield is selected as the location, this project is going to have a big impact on transportation in our community.

The image below is a model of the proposed construction site boundary. As you can see, this project would require work on Loisdale Road, Franconia Springfield Parkway, and Amherst Avenue. All of the colored dots labeled with a letter indicate intersections that would also require construction, involving either lengthening or widening of the roads.


These were some of the key points from this week’s transportation update meeting that I thought were important to share with you. If you would like to read more about the project, you can go to

While the impact on transportation is uncomfortable, getting the FBI Headquarters here, in my opinion, can save Springfield. Those of us who have lived here for a long time have seen the deterioration of Central Springfield – empty and run down stores, increasing crime, etc. When the NGA moved into Saratoga and brought 8,000 of the highest paying jobs the Federal Government offers, all of the sudden, parts of Central Springfield began to clean up. Buildings got renovated and new stores popped up. Even the Springfield Mall (now Town Center) got a huge face lift. If the FBI relocates to this area, Central Springfield will become a high quality neighborhood once again. The economic impact of this facility will be immense, and lead to new businesses, new entertainment venues, and the clearing out of run down eyesores.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office during the last week of session. I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook:

Links of Interest:

My Web Site:

Legislative information system:

Live session video and archived session videos:

Veterans Services Office Opening in Springfield

I wanted to let you know that the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is opening a new veterans benefits office right here in Springfield! DVS advocates for Virginia veterans and connects them to benefits and services, all of which are provided free of charge.

My Dad served in the US Air Force for 20 years, so I have all the respect in the world for the men and women who have served our Country. Having DVS’s new office in Springfield is great for our local veterans and our community. The new veterans benefits office will be open in March, and the address is 6564 Loisdale Court, Suite 301, Springfield, VA 22150.”

First Week of 2017 Session

The 2017 General Assembly Session has begun!

The 2017 General Assembly session opened on Wednesday, January 12. I’m looking forward to a productive session working for you in Richmond this winter!

On Wednesday, Session began with the Richmond Symphony singing the National Anthem, which was followed by the swearing in of one new member, Rocky Holcomb (R). Delegate Holcomb will be representing District 85.

Later that evening, Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly of the House of Delegates and Senate. You can view a video recording of the evening here. The transcript of the Governor’s address can be read here. Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant delivered the Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth. You can read the text of their remarks here.


In August of last year, Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion shortfall. The shortfall is a result of a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Virginia’s economy has lost more than 4,000 jobs, weekly wages are down, and part-time employees are up by more than 20,000 since 2015.

However, unlike Washington, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House to develop our budget. Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources. We will invest in key priorities, but we must do so in a fiscally prudent manner.

Pre-Session Survey

As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out on my website Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 42nd District to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues like ways to make college more affordable and suggestions on how to stimulate our economy drive my work in Richmond. Please make sure you complete and send in your survey by January 18th.

Delegate Albo’s 2017 Legislation

I have filed a few bills that you may find interesting. To follow any other legislation or to read these bills in full, please visit

HB 1410: Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. Renames as boards of trustees the boards of visitors of certain educational institutions in the Commonwealth.

The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from using tuition revenue from any Virginia student to provide financial assistance to any Virginia student or non-Virginia student and more than five percent of tuition revenue from non-Virginia students to provide financial assistance to non-Virginia students.

The bill also requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education (except VMI, Norfolk State, and VSU) to ensure that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at the institution have established domicile in the Commonwealth. The public institutions must be compliant no later than the 2020-2021 academic year.

HB 1423: Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. Directs Department of Environmental Quality to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

HB 1456: Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. Provides that at the request of a parent to such case or proceeding, the court shall use the phrase “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation.” The bill does not apply to any case or proceeding where a court has found a history of family abuse or sexual abuse or has otherwise found that a child subject to the case or proceeding is an abused or neglected child.

HB 1486: Arts and cultural districts. Provides that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the rest of session! I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook:

Links of Interest

My Web Site:

Legislative information system:

Live session video and archived session videos:

New members of the House and Senate:

Speaker Howell announces standing committee assignments:

Governor McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth address:

Transcript of the State of the Commonwealth address:

Transcript of Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant’s Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth:

Amendments to the Virginia Constitution

Recently I have been asked by many constituents to explain the two 2016 ballot proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution.  I will explain them, but I am not here to tell you how to vote.  A long time ago I learned that I am no smarter than my constituents.  In fact, at every meeting I go to, there is always one person who knows more than me on the topic I am explaining.  With that in mind, let me try to explain these amendments and both sides of the arguments for and against.

First, it may be useful to understand how an amendment gets on the ballot.  Other states have procedures where citizens can collect a number of signatures and get a proposed law on the ballot.  That is how marijuana has been legalized in many states.  In Virginia, all laws are passed by the General Assembly and not the public, except for Constitutional Amendments.  To get the Constitution amended, a bill must pass.  Then there must be an intervening election, and the exact same bill (not even a comma can be changed) has to be passed.  And then, it has to be voted on by a majority of the citizens voting in the next election.

We have two proposed amendments: (1)  Right to Work and (2) Allowing local governments to exempt property taxes for spouses of Police and Firefighters killed in the line of duty.

(1)  Right to Work

This amendment would guarantee in the Virginia Constitution a citizen’s right to hold a job without being required to join a labor union. For decades the Virginia Code has included a law which declares that no one can be forced to join a Labor Union (pay a fee) in order to work.  So, contrary to popular belief, Labor Unions are not illegal in Virginia.  The law simply means that union membership must be voluntary and not compulsory.

The practical effect of this is that Labor Unions have a great difficulty forming in Virginia because why would someone join a Union when others don’t have to join and pay?

Even though this concept is already in the law, this proposal seeks to move it to the Constitution so that it will be very difficult to repeal it.  (As stated earlier, to repeal, the same law would have to pass twice with an intervening election and then be approved at the ballot box).

Proponents say:

“There is also a practical issue. As you many know, many states are not right-to-work states. For many jobs in many parts of the country, people can be forced to join a labor union against their will just to hold a job. A nearby example of an organization that is not “right-to-work” is the  Metro.

When major businesses in the United States expand or relocate, a key factor in their consideration is locating in a place that has strong right-to-work laws. “By placing this provision in the state Constitution, Virginia would send a strong signal nationally that we want businesses to locate, expand, and create jobs in our state.”  (This is an excerpt of an e-mail written by Delegate Jim LeMunyon)

Opponents say:

“It is already in the Code.  This is just politics.”  Also, they point out that it is not fair that some people have to pay to get the benefits of being in a Union (e.g. negotiated wages and benefits with the government and private businesses), and others get to be “freeloaders” by getting the benefits without having to pay.

(2) Allowing local governments to exempt property taxes for spouses of Police and Firefighters killed in the line of duty.

This is not as controversial as the other amendment.  This proposed amendment allows, not requires, local governments to exempt from property tax the homes of a surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer or other emergency responder who is killed in the line of duty. A similar provision already exists for surviving spouses of members of the armed forces who are killed in the line of duty or are permanently disabled.

Proponents say that approval of this amendment is one way of showing our support for people who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.

Opponents don’t seem to be against this, but they point out that as more and more groups seek similar exemptions, our tax base begins to deteriorate.  And every person who gets exempted must have their share of taxes be made up by other citizens who have to pay property taxes.

I wanted to provide an explanation that is non-partisan and consists of just the facts.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  If you want my opinion, just e-mail me at and I would be happy to share it.