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Virginia Voters To Decide Fate of Amendment On Religious Holidays

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A referendum on the Virginia ballot would let lawmakers delay veto sessions so they don't coincide with Passover.
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A referendum on the Virginia ballot would let lawmakers delay veto sessions so they don't coincide with Passover.

Voters in Virginia are about to decide the fate of a constitutional amendment that will determine when the General Assembly can call a "veto session," which is when the legislature responds to the governor's vetoes for that year.

According to the Virginia constitution, legislators have to reconvene on the sixth Wednesday after the session for a veto session, when they consider how to respond to the governor's vetoes. The problem for Jewish legislators such as Sen. Adam Ebbin, is that the session frequently coincides with Passover.

"For Jews, it's an important holiday, and every member of the General Assembly should be able to practice their religion," says Ebbin. "One year I was sitting with one of my Jewish colleagues on Passover, and we were unable to observe Passover."

Jewish legislators are often caught in the middle: do they observe their holiday or represent their constituents? Enter Question 2, the ballot initiative that voters will decide on Election Day. The language of the amendment doesn't say anything about religious holidays, but it does give the General Assembly the ability to delay the veto session by a week.

"It gives the General Assembly flexibility to schedule a session so that the maximum number of legislators can attend," says Del. Scott Surovell. 

The amendment has no opposition and is expected to pass.

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