The Commonwealth of Virginia, more informally called Virginia; is a state in the southern parts of USA. It has a population of about 8.2 million. Richmond; Virginia Beach is the capital of the Commonwealth and also the most populous. This state has a rich history with its General Assembly regarded as the longest serving law-making body in America. It has also ranked highly over the years for its government’s efficiency.
The state through its constitution prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms, a characteristic unique to the state. It is economically diverse and the management of the service sector is also ranked highly. The state boasts of some of the best public colleges and universities that have built a reputation in technology. It is also home to some of the federal government agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Defense.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Like all the other states within the federation of the USA, Virginia has a constitution that defines the powers of the state government. This document is supreme to the state though its provisions may be superseded by some federal laws the United States Constitution. This is as provided in the Supremacy Clause of the latter.
Virginia’s original Constitution of 1776 was the first of its kind, providing a blue-print to many states within the US and beyond. The current 1971 Constitution is a product of six major reviews and several amendments from 1776. These reviews have been necessitated by periods of social upheavals within the state specifically and the US generally. As a matter of fact this constitution’s Declaration of Rights was of phenomenal inspiration to the United States Bill of Rights. However, there were issues of social upheaval and political attrition that necessitated the reviews that followed, notably the limitation of the rights to vote and racial segregation.
The 1971 Constitution of Virginia
The Civil Rights Movement and decisions from the US Supreme Court rendered the 1902 Constitution untenable. The state in response to the change of tide promulgated a new document in 1971. This Constitution did away with some of the controversial aspects of that of 1902 such as racial segregation and restricted voting.
- Components of Government in the Constitution
There are three arms of government that are explicitly separated from one another; the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The doctrine of separation of power is highly regarded that it is provided for as of right in section 5 of Article I.
Article IV establishes the Legislature and spells out its powers as vested in the Virginia General Assembly. Section 17 gives the assembly impeachment powers over the executive and the judiciary. The Executive arm and its powers is defined in Article V with the governor as the chief executive, however section 1 limits the governor to only one term. Article VI establishes the Supreme Court of Virginia and other subordinate courts, as the pillars of the Judiciary. The Supreme Court Justices are appointed for a term of 12 years, whilst the others serve for a maximum of 8 years.
- Provision of Services
The Constitution in Article VII, creates the local government of Virginia. The constitution states that a local government may be established in any town or city based on population. In section 4 of Article VII, there are specific constitutional offices that are to functionalize the local government and provide social services. These include; the Commissioner of Revenue, Sheriff, Commonwealth Attorney, Clerk of court, and the Treasurer.
There are also services such as health, education, fire departments created under the local government structure. However the Constitution in Article VIII has specific provision on Education. The constitution offer free primary and secondary education and requires it to be compulsory. The General Assembly has the powers to determine the funds to be channeled to the education system. In doing this it may work in tandem with the local government. There is also a state Board of Education that is mandated to formulate policies and create school divisions.
- Funding of the Government
In Article X, there is established a structure of taxation which is the main source of government. Pursuant to this Article, real and personal property that is not exempted under the law are taxable. Section 6 provides the list of exempted property. Local governments also collect revenues to help fund the services that they provide within their jurisdictions. The state may also rely on the federal government for specific funding and assistance.
The health sector and security particularly receive hefty funding. There are also other services like infrastructure development, conservation, park managements, water and electricity that receive priorities funding. The state government also endeavors to maintain high standards of education in the state colleges and universities and ensures the assistance of needy but bright students.This has made the state a reputable exporter of computer chips and other media related hardware.
Brisbin, R. A. (2008). West Virginia Politics and Government (Illustrated ed.). Lincoln, Nebraska: U of Nebraska Press.
Zines, L. (2008). The High Court and the Constitution (Illustrated ed.). New York: Federation Press.