- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginians were being asked to decide Tuesday whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would exempt the surviving spouses of U.S. military members killed in action from paying real estate taxes.

The amendment’s sponsor, Loudon Republican Del. David Ramadan, said he learned from a constituent that Virginia already offers a real estate tax exemption to veterans who became completely disabled as a result of their military service but not surviving spouses of those who were killed while serving in the military.

“I did not think that was fair,” Ramadan said.

The General Assembly has unanimously passed Ramadan’s legislation twice, with an election in between votes, allowing the voters to have a voice on changing the Virginia Constitution.

The exemption would apply only to the spouse’s principal place of residence and would end if the surviving spouse remarried. A surviving spouse would not have to be a Virginia resident at the time of the service member’s death to receive the exemption.

Ramadan said he expects the fiscal impact proposed exemption to be minimal, though he does not know how many individuals will be impacted.

“Regardless of the numbers, it’s the least that we can do and it’s simply a fairness issue,” he said.

Virginians have supported other proposed constitutional amendments by large margins, including a 2012 vote to limit the government’s ability to seize private property for economic development needs, and 2010 vote to give tax breaks to disabled veterans and the elderly.

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