Author: Jonelle Jackson

LABOR LAW POSTER AND POSTHUMOUS VETERAN BILLS APPROVED

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ST. CROIX–The Committee on Government Operations, Consumer Affairs, Energy, Environment, and Planning chaired by Senator Alicia V. Barnes met on Thursday in the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center on St. Croix.

Members of the Committee received testimony on Bill No. 33-0091, an Act amending the Virgin Islands Code by requiring businesses to post the required labor law posters in a conspicuous place inside the business and if there is more than one site, then at all locations.

The Bill further stated that in Section 307 of the amendment, specific penalties are assessed for multiple violations each year and an appeal process is set in place for any business that is penalized. The Bill was sponsored by Senator Stedmann Hodge, Jr.

Gary Molloy, Commissioner of the Department of Labor (DOL) said his department is in favor of the intent of the proposed legislation. According to Mr. Molloy, the Bill ensures that businesses provide notice to employees of their rights under local and federal law.

He added that if the Legislature agrees with the amendments by DOL, the legislation will strengthen the Department’s ability to provide greater compliance in our community. He suggested to the Committee that the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) be given an opportunity to provide testimony on the Bill as it directly affects a statute that DLCA administers.

Some of the suggestions Commissioner Molloy recommended were: (1) that the enforcement of Labor Laws should be placed under the authority of DOL; (2) that upon previous notice and an opportunity for a fair hearing, will impose administration fines for violations of the rules, regulations, and orders approved or prescribed by DOL. 

He added that such fines shall not be less than $25 nor more than $5,000 and;(3) that any business found in violation of this subsection will be allowed to have their appeal processed through an Administrative Hearing Review.

Commissioner Molloy concluded his testimony by adding that the Bill also seeks to ensure that employers, including those who are beneficiaries of the Economic Development Commission, display all required Labor Posters. Furthermore, as amended, the Bill would ensure that any Job Vacancies are posted by their respective employers.

Chairwoman Barnes noted the employees who are very skilled in their given profession, however, reading and comprehension proved difficult for them. She suggested that DOL take the initiative and develop some form of oral orientation rather than take literacy for granted.

Other testifiers on the Bill were Nesha R. Christian-Hendrickson, Legal Counsel and Gwen Steel, Director of Labor Relations. The Bill was favorably approved and sent to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further amendments and consideration.

The Committee also took testimony on Bill No. 33-0127, an Act posthumously honoring and commending the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces; naming the roundabout road circle located in downtown Cruz Bay, St. John. Testifiers in support of the measure were Patrick D. Farrell, Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Harry Daniel and Henry Powell.

The roundabout road will be named, “The Veterans Circle”, and appropriating approximately $20,000 to the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to commission a monument in the memory of the Veterans. Bill No. 33-0127 was favorably approved and sent to the Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation and Aging for further consideration. The measure was sponsored by Senator Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, who thanked his colleagues for their support in honoring the brave Virgin Islanders who served on behalf of our territory.

Committee members at Thursday’s hearing were Chairwoman Senator Alicia V. Barnes, Myron D. Jackson, Marvin A. Blyden, Allison L. DeGazon, Javan E. James, Sr., and Athneil “Bobby” Thomas. Non-Committee members were Senators Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Stedmann Hodge.

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VI POLICE NOMINEE AND 43 MEASURES APPROVED IN LEGISLATIVE SESSION

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ST. THOMAS—The Members of the 33rd Legislature convened in Legislative Session at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on Thursday. Led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr., the Body met to vote on the nomination of Trevor Velinor to the Virgin Islands Police Department, the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Bills and other time-sensitive matters.

The consideration of Nominee Trevor A. Velinor as Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department received favorable support while the Members of the Body emphasized their concerns to improve public safety, employee morale, training within the department and community relations throughout the Territory. Senators Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, Javan James and Dwayne DeGraff all rose in support of the Governor’s nominee.  

Senator-At-Large Steven D. Payne, Sr. opposed the nomination stating, “I don’t believe he is the right person for this job and voting in the affirmative for Mr. Velinor would mean that I agree that no police officer, past or present, is qualified to lead this Police Department as Commissioner,” he concluded.

Commissioner Designee Velinor thanked the members for their vote of confidence and pledged to employ an intelligence-based approach as it relates to law enforcement. “I am honored to have an opportunity to return home and serve the people of the Virgin Islands,” said Velinor.

Under Closed Rule, the Body approved the following measures and sent them to the Governor for further action:

·       Bill No. 33-0157– An Act appropriating money for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0158– An Act appropriating funds for the operating expenses and capital projects for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0159- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender.

·       Bill No. 33-0160- To appropriate monies from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and Department of the Public Works for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0161- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0162- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0163- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0164- To provide an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0165- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0166- An Act appropriating money for salaries and expenses of the Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0167- An Act appropriating funds from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0168- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0169- An Act providing appropriations for operating expenses of the Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0170- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes, of the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0171- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0172- An Act to appropriate the sum of $5,000,000 from the V.I. Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0173- An Act to appropriate the sum of $1,100,000 from the interest earned on Debt Services Reserves as a contribution to the General Fund.

·       Bill No. 33-0174- An Act to appropriate funds to the Public Services Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, for operating expenses.

·       Bill No. 33-0175- An Act appropriating the sum of $2,000,000 from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0176- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0177- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0178- An Act to appropriate funds to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, for operating expenses. 

·       Bill No. 33-0179- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Department of Tourism during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0180- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture and Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0181- An Act to appropriate the sum of $4,000,000 from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0182- An Act to appropriate the sum of $10,000,000 from Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0183- An Act to provide for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee for the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0184- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes. 

·       Bill No. 33-0185- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses from the General Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0186- An Act providing appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0187- An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, Title 22, Chapter 10, Section 237(a)(3)(A) and Title 33, Chapter 111, Section 3061 relating to the balance in the Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $10,000,000 amount, which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2020, to $20,000,000.

“I commend the Members of the Finance Committee, Post Audit Division and all individuals that assisted with the Finance review for the work accomplished and I continue to advocate for performance-based budgeting,” said Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr.

In the third block, the following Resolution, Lease Agreements, and Bills were approved and sent to the Governor:

·       Bill No. 33-0084- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and Fabien’s Trucking, LLC for the leasing of Parcel No. 149C Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

·       Bill No. 33-0088- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and Dadlie’s Trucking Service, Inc. for the leasing of Parcel No. 32A and Parcel No. 33 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

·       Bill No. 33-0146- An Act to amend Title 9, Chapter 22 (“The Uniform Money Services Act”) of the Virgin Islands Code, by changing the license renewal period from biennial to annual for an authorized delegate of money transmission, check cashing or currency exchange business.

·       Bill No. 33-0147- An Act amending Title 22, Chapter 10 of the Virgin Islands Code by deleting from Section 232 the words “life” and “disability” and by adding a new Section 248, all to satisfy the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to provide more effective protection to the policyholders in the Territory

·       Bill No. 33-0148- An Act amending chapter 60, section 1521 title 22 Virgin Islands Code to reflect a change to the definition of a Third-Party Administrator Trust Fund Account as it appears in Act 7695.

·       Bill No. 33-0149- An Act amending Title 22 Virgin Islands Code to add a new chapter 20b entitled “Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act,” requiring the Territory’s domiciled insurers and alien insurers not doing business in any other U.S. jurisdiction to submit to the Commissioner of Insurance a corporate governance disclosure report in accordance with the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and that all such reports and related documents shall be kept confidential by law and privileged. 

·       Bill No. 33-0090- An Act amending Title 24, chapter 12, sections 302 and 308 of the Virgin Islands Code to implement a new methodology for assigning individual employer Unemployment Insurance Taxes as administered by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance.

·       Bill No. 33-0052- A Resolution to petition the Governor of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress to join the 33rd Legislature in pursuing the return of a portion of the gasoline excise tax collected by the Federal Government.

During the final block of the Session, Lawmakers approved the following Special-Order Bills:

·       Bill No. 33-0193- An Act ratifying the First Renewal of Group Medical Health Insurance Agreement signed by the Governor on September 6, 2019, between the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Health Insurance Board of Trustees; the Virgin Islands Port Authority; the University of the Virgin Islands; the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation; the Virgin Islands Housing Authority; Non-Profit Organizations defined as eligible by the Government; and Frederiksted Health Care, Inc.; and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. 

·       Bill No. 33-0194- An Act ratifying the First Renewal of Group Dental Health Insurance Agreement signed by the Governor on September 6, 2019, between the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Health Insurance Board of Trustees; the Virgin Islands Port Authority; the University of the Virgin Islands; the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation; the Virgin Islands Housing Authority; Non-Profit Organizations defined as eligible by the Government; and Frederiksted Health Care, Inc.; and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. 

·       Bill No. 33-0195- An Act reprogramming funds from the Fiscal Year October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019 budgets of the Office of the Governor, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Health and Department of Human Services to other departments and agencies to pay current and prior year obligations. 

Bill No. 33-0188, sponsored by Senators Frett-Gregory, Vialet, and Sarauw, sought to amend Title 17, Chapter 5, Section 60d of the Virgin Islands Code to increase the Department of Education’s internal procurement threshold authority from $50,000 to $250,000, not inclusive of construction contracts. 

ST. THOMAS—The Members of the 33rd Legislature convened in Legislative Session at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on Thursday. Led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr., the Body met to vote on the nomination of Trevor Velinor to the Virgin Islands Police Department, the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Bills and other time-sensitive matters.

The consideration of Nominee Trevor A. Velinor as Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department received favorable support while the Members of the Body emphasized their concerns to improve public safety, employee morale, training within the department and community relations throughout the Territory. Senators Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, Javan James and Dwayne DeGraff all rose in support of the Governor’s nominee.  

Senator-At-Large Steven D. Payne, Sr. opposed the nomination stating, “I don’t believe he is the right person for this job and voting in the affirmative for Mr. Velinor would mean that I agree that no police officer, past or present, is qualified to lead this Police Department as Commissioner,” he concluded.

Commissioner Designee Velinor thanked the members for their vote of confidence and pledged to employ an intelligence-based approach as it relates to law enforcement. “I am honored to have an opportunity to return home and serve the people of the Virgin Islands,” said Velinor.

Under Closed Rule, the Body approved the following measures and sent them to the Governor for further action:

·       Bill No. 33-0157– An Act appropriating money for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0158– An Act appropriating funds for the operating expenses and capital projects for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0159- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender.

·       Bill No. 33-0160- To appropriate monies from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and Department of the Public Works for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0161- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0162- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0163- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0164- To provide an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0165- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0166- An Act appropriating money for salaries and expenses of the Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0167- An Act appropriating funds from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0168- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0169- An Act providing appropriations for operating expenses of the Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0170- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes, of the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0171- An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0172- An Act to appropriate the sum of $5,000,000 from the V.I. Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0173- An Act to appropriate the sum of $1,100,000 from the interest earned on Debt Services Reserves as a contribution to the General Fund.

·       Bill No. 33-0174- An Act to appropriate funds to the Public Services Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, for operating expenses.

·       Bill No. 33-0175- An Act appropriating the sum of $2,000,000 from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020.

·       Bill No. 33-0176- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0177- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0178- An Act to appropriate funds to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020, for operating expenses. 

·       Bill No. 33-0179- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Department of Tourism during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0180- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture and Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation during the fiscal year October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0181- An Act to appropriate the sum of $4,000,000 from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0182- An Act to appropriate the sum of $10,000,000 from Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0183- An Act to provide for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee for the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0184- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for other purposes. 

·       Bill No. 33-0185- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses from the General Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0186- An Act providing appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal year, October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. 

·       Bill No. 33-0187- An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, Title 22, Chapter 10, Section 237(a)(3)(A) and Title 33, Chapter 111, Section 3061 relating to the balance in the Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $10,000,000 amount, which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2020, to $20,000,000.

“I commend the Members of the Finance Committee, Post Audit Division and all individuals that assisted with the Finance review for the work accomplished and I continue to advocate for performance-based budgeting,” said Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr.

In the third block, the following Resolution, Lease Agreements and Bills were approved and sent to the Governor:

·       Bill No. 33-0084- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and Fabien’s Trucking, LLC for the leasing of Parcel No. 149C Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

·       Bill No. 33-0088- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and Dadlie’s Trucking Service, Inc. for the leasing of Parcel No. 32A and Parcel No. 33 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

·       Bill No. 33-0146- An Act to amend Title 9, Chapter 22 (“The Uniform Money Services Act”) of the Virgin Islands Code, by changing the license renewal period from biennial to annual for an authorized delegate of money transmission, check cashing or currency exchange business.

·       Bill No. 33-0147- An Act amending Title 22, Chapter 10 of the Virgin Islands Code by deleting from Section 232 the words “life” and “disability” and by adding a new Section 248, all to satisfy the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to provide more effective protection to the policyholders in the Territory

·       Bill No. 33-0148- An Act amending chapter 60, section 1521 title 22 Virgin Islands Code to reflect a change to the definition of a Third-Party Administrator Trust Fund Account as it appears in Act 7695.

·       Bill No. 33-0149- An Act amending Title 22 Virgin Islands Code to add a new chapter 20b entitled “Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act,” requiring the Territory’s domiciled insurers and alien insurers not doing business in any other U.S. jurisdiction to submit to the Commissioner of Insurance a corporate governance disclosure report in accordance with the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and that all such reports and related documents shall be kept confidential by law and privileged. 

·       Bill No. 33-0090- An Act amending Title 24, chapter 12, sections 302 and 308 of the Virgin Islands Code to implement a new methodology for assigning individual employer Unemployment Insurance Taxes as administered by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance.

·       Bill No. 33-0052- A Resolution to petition the Governor of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress to join the 33rd Legislature in pursuing the return of a portion of the gasoline excise tax collected by the Federal Government.

During the final block of the Session, Lawmakers approved the following Special-Order Bills:

·       Bill No. 33-0193- An Act ratifying the First Renewal of Group Medical Health Insurance Agreement signed by the Governor on September 6, 2019, between the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Health Insurance Board of Trustees; the Virgin Islands Port Authority; the University of the Virgin Islands; the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation; the Virgin Islands Housing Authority; Non-Profit Organizations defined as eligible by the Government; and Frederiksted Health Care, Inc.; and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. 

·       Bill No. 33-0194- An Act ratifying the First Renewal of Group Dental Health Insurance Agreement signed by the Governor on September 6, 2019, between the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Health Insurance Board of Trustees; the Virgin Islands Port Authority; the University of the Virgin Islands; the St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation; the Virgin Islands Housing Authority; Non-Profit Organizations defined as eligible by the Government; and Frederiksted Health Care, Inc.; and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company. 

·       Bill No. 33-0195- An Act reprogramming funds from the Fiscal Year October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019 budgets of the Office of the Governor, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Health and Department of Human Services to other departments and agencies to pay current and prior year obligations. 

Bill No. 33-0188, sponsored by Senators Frett-Gregory, Vialet, and Sarauw, sought to amend Title 17, Chapter 5, Section 60d of the Virgin Islands Code to increase the Department of Education’s internal procurement threshold authority from $50,000 to $250,000, not inclusive of construction contracts. 

Members present during Legislative Session: Senate President Novelle Francis, Jr., Vice-President Myron Jackson, Majority Leader Marvin Blyden, Senator-At-Large Steven Payne Sr., Senators Janelle Sarauw, Kurt Vialet, Oakland Benta Sr., Javan James Sr., Dwayne DeGraff, Donna Frett-Gregory and Athneil “Bobby” Thomas.

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RULES AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVED 39 MEASURES

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ST. THOMAS—The Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, convened at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on Wednesday to consider the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Bills and other legislation requested by Governor Albert Bryan, Jr.

In the first block of the meeting, 31 measures were approved to the Full Body for further consideration:

  • Bill No. 33-0157– An Act appropriating money for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0158– An Act appropriating funds for the operating expenses and capital projects for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0159- An Act providing appropriation for operation expenses of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender
  • Bill No. 33-0160- To appropriate monies from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and Department of the Public Works for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0161- An Act providing appropriation for operation expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0162- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0163- To provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0164- To provide an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0165- An Act providing appropriation for operation expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0166- An Act appropriating money for salaries and expenses of the Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0167- An Act appropriating funds from the Government Insurance Fund for operating expenses of the Department of Finance and the Department of Labor for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0168- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0169- An Act providing appropriations for operation expenses of the Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0170- An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses and for other purposes, of the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement and the Department of Finance for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0171- An Act providing appropriation for operation expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0172- An Act to appropriate the sum of $5,000,000 from the V.I. Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0173- An Act to appropriate the sum of $1,100,000 from the interest earned on Debt Services Reserves as a contribution to the General Fund
  • Bill No. 33-0174- An Act to appropriate funds to the Public Services Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 for operating expenses
  • Bill No. 33-0175- An Act appropriating the sum of $2,000,000 from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0176- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0177- An Act to provide an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewage System Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0178- An Act to appropriate funds to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 for operating expenses
  • Bill No. 33-0179- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Department of Tourism during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0180- An Act to provide for an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture and Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation during the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0181- An Act to appropriate the sum of $4,000,000 from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0182- An Act to appropriate the sum of $10,000,000 from Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0183- An Act to provide for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0184- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020 and for other purposes
  • Bill No. 33-0185- An Act to appropriate monies for salaries and expenses from the General Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0186- An Act providing appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal year October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020
  • Bill No. 33-0187- An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, Title 22, Chapter 10, Section 237(a)(3)(A) and Title 33, Chapter 111, Section 3061 relating to the balance in the Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $10,000,000 amount, which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2020, to $20,000,000

Following recess, the Lease Agreements below were approved during the second block of the meeting:

  • Bill No. 33-0084- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, acting through the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement and Fabien’s Trucking, LLC for the leasing of Parcel No. 149C Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
  • Bill No. 33-0088- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and Dadlie’s Trucking Service, Inc. for the leasing of Parcel No. 32A and Parcel No. 33 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

The Committee also approved four special request bills sponsored by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr., on behalf of the Governor:

  • Bill No. 33-0146- An Act to amend Title 9, Chapter 22 (“The Uniform Money Services Act”) of the Virgin Islands Code, by changing the license renewal period from biennial to annual for an authorized delegate of a money transmission, check cashing or currency exchange business.
  • Bill No. 33-0147- An Act amending Title 22, Chapter 10 of the Virgin Islands Code by deleting from Section 232 the words “life” and “disability” and by adding a new Section 248, all to satisfy the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to provide more effective protection to the policyholders in the Territory.
  • Bill No. 33-0148- An Act amending chapter 60, section 1521 title 22 Virgin Islands Code to reflect a change to the definition of a Third-Party Administrator Trust Fund Account as it appears in Act 7695.
  • Bill No. 33-0149- An Act amending title 22 Virgin Islands Code to add a new chapter 20b entitled “Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Act,” requiring the Territory’s domiciled insurers and alien insurers not doing business in any other U.S. jurisdiction to submit to the Commissioner of Insurance a corporate governance disclosure report in accordance with the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and that all such reports and related documents shall be kept confidential by law and privileged.

During the final block of the meeting, the following measures were approved:

  • Bill No. 33-0090- An Act amending title 24, chapter 12, sections 302 and 308 of the Virgin Islands Code to implement a new methodology for assigning individual employer Unemployment Insurance Taxes as administered by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance.
  • Bill No. 33-0052- A Resolution to petition the Governor of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress to join the 33rd Legislature in pursuing the return of a portion of the gasoline excise tax collected by the Federal Government.

“Today marks the second to last leg in an intense budget process, and the bills before us today are the culmination of various discussions and hard work of the Legislature.  I thank my colleagues, the divisions of Post Audit, Legal Counsel, Media and all those who assisted in the process,” said Chairwoman Sarauw.

Senators in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting: Chairwoman Janelle Sarauw, Senators Novelle Francis, Myron Jackson, Alicia Barnes, Kenneth Gittens, Javan James and Athneil J. Thomas.

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ADVISORY OF LEGISLATURE CLOSURE

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ST. CROIX–Please be advised that the Legislature of the Virgin Islands will close at noon today in both districts to prepare for the passage of Tropical Storm Karen.

Normal schedule and operations in both districts are expected to resume on Wednesday, September 25th. An assessment of the weather and safety conditions will be conducted on Tuesday, September 24th to determine if any adjustments will be made to this schedule.

To ensure your safety, please adhere to the alerts issued by VITEMA at www.Vitema.vi.gov., and monitor your radio for updates on weather conditions during the passage of this tropical storm.

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POSTPONEMENT OF COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE ON SEPTEMBER 20TH AND NOTICE OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION

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ST. CROIX–Please be advised that the Committee of the Whole scheduled for September 20, 2019 to consider the first renewal of the Government Employees Group Health and Dental Insurance Policies with CIGNA has been rescheduled for Thursday, September 26, 2019. Several key testifiers have indicated their concerns about traveling with the pending threat of Hurricane Jerry and will not be able to attend on that date. The meeting will begin 10:00 a.m. in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas.

          At the conclusion of Committee of the Whole, the members will proceed into Legislative Session. At that time, agenda items for Session will focus on the Fiscal Year 2020 budget bills, the CIGNA insurance agreements, bills supporting the Banking and Insurance National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) accreditation and any other matters deemed time sensitive.

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