Voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to put provisions of Virginia’s right-to-work law in the state constitution.

Another proposed constitutional amendment won easy passage. It is meant to aid the families of first responders killed in the line of duty by allowing localities to exempt a surviving spouse’s real property from taxation.

Virginia’s right-to-work law says participation in a union may not be a condition for employment in the state.

Supporters of the constitutional amendment said the right-to-work provision is a key factor in maintaining a strong business climate in the state. Opponents termed it an anti-union measure.

Backers said embedding the provision in the constitution would make it harder for a future General Assembly to undo. Opponents said it did not belong in the constitution.

The Virginia AFL-CIO opposed the amendment “for a whole slew of reasons but most importantly because it has nothing to do with rights,” said Gina Maglionico, the organization’s communications director. “By design, a constitution is meant to protect the rights of citizens, not stifle them.”

Nicole Riley, Virginia state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, had said: “If you believe that people should have the freedom to take a job without being required to join a union to get or keep their job, then you want to vote YES on Question 1.”

The other proposed amendment will authorize the General Assembly to enact a law that would let a locality exempt from taxation the real property of the living spouse of any law enforcement officer, firefighter, search-and-rescue personnel member, or emergency medical services personnel member killed in the line of duty.

The exemption from taxation would apply to the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence. It would cease if the surviving spouse remarries.

acain@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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