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EDITORIAL: Vote ‘Yes’ for the other amendment too
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EDITORIAL: Vote ‘Yes’ for the other amendment too

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PHOTO: Disabled veterans (copy)

You may have missed it during the ongoing fight over Amendment No. 1 to the Virginia Constitution, which would end partisan gerrymandering by the General Assembly by establishing an independent bipartisan redistricting commission, but there’s another amendment on the ballot this year.

Amendment No. 2 would exempt any members of the U.S. military and Virginia National Guard with a 100 percent permanent service-related disability from having to pay state and local personal property taxes on their vehicles.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, “a ‘yes’ vote will mean the Constitution of Virginia will be amended to exempt one automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-connected, permanent, and total disability from state and local taxation.”

Like Amendment No. 1, voting for Amendment No. 2 is a no-brainer. A member of the military who has become permanently disabled defending his or her country deserves a lot more than a reprieve on paying the car tax. It’s a token gesture at best. But the law is the law, and even token gestures must follow the rules.

The proposed amendment would merely add these veteran-owned vehicles to the long list of property in the commonwealth that is not subject to state or local taxation. The list includes all government-owned property; real estate and other property owned by religious bodies; cemeteries; schools; libraries; public parks and playgrounds; and land subject to a permanent easement.

Disabled veterans would not be eligible for any back taxes paid prior to Jan. 1, 2021 when the amendment, if approved by voters in November, goes into effect. The vehicle has to be owned and used primarily by the veteran or their spouse, if married.

According to Veterans United, a 100 percent disabled veteran in Virginia may also receive a full local property tax exemption on his or her primary residence. That’s fine as far as it goes, but not nearly enough recompense for those permanently injured in service to their country.

Fortunately, there are people who are doing much more to help veterans. Just one example is the non-profit Haven for Heroes, which is rehabbing a dilapidated duplex in the Mayfield subdivision of Fredericksburg to provide decent homes for vets in need of one. The group is headed by Barzel and Brenda McKinney, two retired Army veterans who understand the unpaid debt society still owes to these wounded warriors.

So vote “Yes” on both Amendment No. 1 and Amendment No. 2. Disabled veterans have already paid far more than their “fair share.”

The (Fredericksburg) Free Lance-Star

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