Category: Committee of the Whole

MAP Bill Sent to Rules and Judiciary Committee

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ST. THOMAS–Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. convened the 33rd Legislature in Regular Session on Wednesday in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall, St. Thomas. The committee received testimony from several Healthcare Officials and other Semi-Autonomous Agencies on Bill No.33-0072.

Bill No.33-0072 seeks to appropriate $39,467,909 that was awarded to the Virgin Islands Medical Assistance Program because of a multi-year reconciliation and review of several of the territory’s healthcare agencies and various governmental agencies.

Andrea Daley, Chief Financial Officer, VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) said in her testimony that the $3 million dollars awarded to them will be used towards the down payment of outstanding debts to the haulers. She added that the Authority has an outstanding debt of $27,583, 979.30 and at the end of April, the Landfill Operators were owed $12,586,892.12; Wastewater Treatment Plan Operators $6,290,853.50; and other vendors $4,060,917.87 respectively.

According to Daley, the total balance amount of $4,645.315.81 is due to the haulers exclusively. This appropriation shall enable the Authority to pay a portion of what is owed, approximately 65 percent, with a balance of $1,645,315.81 due haulers.

Other testifiers for VIWMA were Adrian Wade Taylor, Interim Executive Director, and Ann Hanley Acting Chief Operating Officer.

Lawrence Kupfer, Executive Director/CEO for VI Water and Power Authority (WAPA) testified that the sum of $9,903,746 is to be appropriated directly to WAPA for payment of service owed by JFL and the sum of $4,312,454 owed by Schneider Regional Medical Center amounted to approximately $22.9 million which is the amount the Authority was anticipating. This combined amount owed by the Territory’s hospitals leaves the Authority with a substantial arrearage of $8,673,800 for utility services.

Kupfer added that the failure of the Authority’s base rate revenues to keep pace with operating and capital costs have created a revenue deficiency which continues to threaten the operational and financial integrity and sustainability of WAPA’s Electrical System.

Jenifer O’Neal, Director Designee of OMB said that the $8,710,649 payment to the Department of Labor will be immediately used to pay the outstanding debt owed to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) by Schneider Regional Center and Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center.

According to O’Neal, the $5 million dollars received by the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue is to immediately be used to pay outstanding refunds for Tax Year 2016.  She added that these funds were received after an audit of the cost reports and ratings through the Department of Human Services. She added that OMB fully supports Bill No.33-0072.

Dyma Williams, Acting Chief Executive Officer of JFL, said the reason why JFL is in so much debt is due to uncompensated care. From fiscal year 2014 to 2019, JFL has experienced a $114.4 million shortfall due to non-reimbursement of uncompensated care by the Government of the Virgin Islands.

Dr. Bernard Wheatley, Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) said they have $25 million in Account Payables including the $8.8 million owed to WAPA.  As a point of clarification, he stated that DOL owes SRMC $6.5 million for medical services provided to clients of the workers’ compensation program.

Other invited testifiers were Justa Encarnacion, Commissioner Designee Department of Health; Moleto Smith, Chief Executive Officer, St. Thomas East End Medical Center; and Massarae Sprauve-Webster, Chief Executive Officer, Frederiksted Health Care, Inc.

After several rounds of questioning, the Body moved to send Bill 33-0072 to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further amendments and clarifications.

The last item on the day’s agenda, was Bill 33-0089, a resolution which reestablishes the Majority Caucus of the 33rd Legislature and the structure of each committee. The resolution was approved by a 9-member majority of the Body.

Senators at Wednesday’s Session were: President, Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Alicia Barnes, Oakland Benta, Marvin Blyden, Allison DeGazon, Dwayne DeGraff, Donna Frett-Gregory, Kenneth Gittens, Stedmann Hodge, Jr., Myron Jackson, Javan James, Sr., Steven Payne, Sr., Janelle Sarauw, Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, and Kurt Vialet. 0000000

LAWMAKERS VET PETITIONERS ON REZONING REQUESTS

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St. Thomas – The Committee of the Whole led by Senate President Myron Jackson, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, to receive testimony on zoning hearings as it pertains to the JRS Holding, LLC and the V.I. Christian Ministries. Policymakers did not vote on the zoning requests at the meeting today.

Sen. Myron Jackson said, “One of the issues that plague the Territory is the lack of infrastructure and development. There aren’t street lights in place, pedestrian sidewalks to access the medical facilities, public transportation or proper sewage.” He asked, “How can we correct the infrastructure needs of the land use plan?” Matthew Laplace, the Territorial Planner for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), stated at this time, development is limited. Government agencies must collaborate to build the infrastructure.

The petition seeks to amend the Official Zoning Map No. STZ-7 from R-2 (Residential-Low Density One and Two Family) to B-1 (Business-Central- Business District) for Parcel No. 48 Estate Thomas, No. 6A New Quarter, St. Thomas. The applicant’s proposed use is to create a mixed-use development consisting of medical offices, retail, a wellness center, and residential units for primarily short-term patients seeking medical treatment.

The Ensemble Complex is a three-story commercial complex housing medical practices, a wellness center, physical rehabilitation facilities, pharmacies, office spaces, and retail. The application seeks to change the current zoning category from residential to a central business district. With a recommendation from Dawn Henry, Commissioner of DPNR, to have the entrance and road access expanded to accommodate commercial use.

In a written testimony submitted to the Senate, Petitioner Jerry Smith, MD stated that this facility seeks to provide a high-traffic commercial trade center that offers a cohesive environment where medical, professional, and retail entities can thrive, grow and more conveniently serve the consumers of a variety of services.

Although lawmakers expressed support for the rezoning request, they addressed their concerns. “My concern is that if the drainage is unproperly built, it can cause flooding to residents in the area,” said Sen. Janelle Sarauw. In response, Laplace stated that the applicant is required to meet DPNR standards for building the drainage. The applicant must submit engineering plans to DPNR before the start of the project.

“Will the road project be completed before building the establishment?” Sen. Jean Forde questioned. Attorney Joseph Caines, Attorney of the Law Office of Joseph Caines representing

Dr. Smith stated that the construction of the road may or shall be done either before or during the development of the first phase of The Ensemble Complex.

Sen. Novelle Francis inquired of who is fiscally responsible for expanding the roads from one lane to two lanes. Laplace said, “The cost for the road expansion is the responsibility of the petitioner.” Sen. Francis further asked, “Is all of the funding in place?” In response, Attorney Caines stated that not all the funding is in place for development, because it is a multi-million-dollar project. However, my client is confident that he will obtain financing to widen the road on an easement.”

Sen. Brian Smith shared his remarks on the zoning application. “Comparatively to neighboring islands, the Virgin Islands needs more business development. Sometimes we hold back development, and this occurred for over twenty years. It is time to move forward by supporting business ventures.”

Separately, policymakers also considered the following: Report on Petition to Amend Official Zoning Map No. STZ-7-Application No. ZAT-18-1 a petition of VI Christian Ministries (authorized agent, Attorney Jennifer Jones) requesting use variances to the R-1 (Residential-Low Density zoned Parcel No. 105 Remainder Estate Bolongo Bay, No.3 Frenchman’s Bay Quarter, St. Thomas. The purpose of the request is to allow for office and storage use. The proposed method is to convert the former bowling alley to offices and storage.

Based on the report of Dawn Henry, Commissioner of DPNR, the public opposed the rezoning request because of the effects of traffic, pollution, sound and a possible increase in flooding. Sen. Tregenza Roach asked, “Considering that there aren’t any structural changes to the property, how accurate are these concerns?”  Well, some concerns did not have anything to do with the property or the project stated Attorney Jennifer Jones, Authorized Agent of the Property. “People like to create a problem in their mind that doesn’t exist,” said Sen. Smith.

Photos: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media

 

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COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HEARS BUSINESS ZONING REQUESTS

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ST. CROIX- The Committee of the Whole held a zoning request hearing on Thursday in the Great Hall, the University of the Virgin Islands at the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Chaired by Senator Myron D. Jackson, the committee heard from several individuals seeking approval of zoning requests and use variances.
 
Petitioners Luis and Ludymar Ortiz requested to rezone Plot No. 56 of Parcel No. 67 Estate Mount Welcome to R-3 (residential-medium density) from R-2 (residential low density-one and two family). The applicants intend to construct a three-story, two-family dwelling. They will reside in one unit and have the second unit available for a family.
 
Luis Ortiz said he applied for the zoning change because he is building a three-story home on stilts and he wants to enclose the bottom portion to build an apartment. According to Leia LaPlace, Department of Natural Resources Territorial Planner, the home would be allowed on the property as it is currently zoned if the owners didn’t plant to enclose the bottom portion.
 
Petitioner Justina Barbour (authorized agent, Monique Dass) requested a use variance be granted to the R-2 (residential-low density-one and two family) zoned Plot No. 17 of Parcel No.2 Estate Concordia, St. Croix. The purpose stated is to place two containers on the property, of which one will be used as a bakery and the second will be used as a retail clothing store.
 
Dass said she was told by DPNR in due diligence, the containers can be used as proposed if they look like they are part of the house, so they will be covered with wood and painted to blend in with the house.
 
Petitioners Timothy and Marie Granderson requested two separate zonings and variances. The first is to amend Zoning on No.SCZ-12 C (commercial) to B-2 (Business-Secondary/Neighborhood) for Plot No. 1-C Estate Clifton Hill. The proposal is to first relocate the business activity of Freight Forwarding Service with accessory Warehouse & Storage services onto Plot No. 168 Estate Clifton Hill and to allow occupancy of the first floor by various business tenants and the second floor by a guesthouse.
 
The second request is the relocation from Plot No. 1-C Estate Clifton Hill of the applicants’ business activity, Freight Forwarding Services with accessory Warehouse & Storage Services doing business as Distance Freight. DPNR’s LaPlace-Matthew gave a mixed recommendation on the two applications that were submitted by Distance Freight. She recommended denying the application request, nothing opposition from neighbors.
Petitioner Hans Lawaetz requested that a use variance is granted to the A-1 (Agricultural Zone) Plot no. 2AF Estate Upper Love, St. Croix to use the guesthouse as a bed and breakfast. According to him, he has received several requests from potential tenants asking if space is available for rent, so he and his wife decided it would be a good business move to start a bed and breakfast business.
 
Petitioner Wendy Phoenix for plot No.10-D Estate Constitution Hill on St. Croix from R-1 (residential-low-density) to R-2 (residential-low density-one and two family). The purpose is so that it can be consolidated with an adjacent property and then re-subdivided.
 
Members present during the zoning hearing: Senators Myron Jackson, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Jean Forde, Brian Smith, Marvin Blyden, Janette Millin-Young, Positive Nelson, Tregenza Roach, Kurt Vialet, Dwayne DeGraff and Novelle Francis.
 
 
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LIMETREE BAY TERMINALS, LLC ARGUES FOR MAJOR CZM PERMIT

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ST. CROIX--The Committee of the Whole, chaired by Senate President Myron D. Jackson, met on Wednesday in the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center of the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center where testimony was given on a Major Coastal Zone Management Permit.

Senators heard from several Limetree Bay Terminals L.L.C. management Executives regarding Major CZM Permit CZX-29-17 for a Single Point Mooring (SPM) to be constructed on the south of St. Croix. The project’s activities will be specifically located seaward of Limetree Bay Terminals, LLC Terminal Plot No. 9 Reclaimed Land, Christiansted.

In his testimony, Jason Gleason, Maine Terminal Pilot and Captain for Limetree Bay Terminals, said as Lead Superintendent in the Marine Department and Project Lead on the SPM Project, Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) are some of the largest vessels in the world often over 1100ft long and 200ft, wide and may have a draft of over 700ft.

He added that historically to call on St. Croix, a VLCC would need to be roughly half loaded, and so, this project will enable their customers to transport crude to and from the facility in full loaded VLCC, offering a much more efficient operation.

According to Gleason, the Limetree Bay SPM will transfer crude oil to and from the facility and with the upgraded crude pumps completed last year, they can load out at approximately 45,000 barrels per hour. He pointed out that, the SPM project has been designed to Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF); United States Coast Guard (USCG) and American Bureau #56 King Street, Hamilton House, Christiansted, St. Croix 00820 340-773-2424, Fax: 340-712-2397, E-mail: publicaffairs@legvi.org of Shipping (ABS) standard. Furthermore, the entire system is designed to withstand the extreme conditions often found in in the Caribbean region.

Senators, who expressed their concerns as they relate to the project’s impact on the ecosystem, was given assurance by Gleason that after an extensive environmental assessment and re-routing of the project to minimize environmental impact, it was determined that a few corals were still in the pathway of the project.

According to him, these corals will be transplanted well clear of the project by their environmental contractor, Bio Impact. They will also be constructing a man-made reef to provide additional habitat where some of the coral will be transplanted on both the south and north shores of St. Croix in areas already approved by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).

Gleason added that during construction, Bio Impact will be monitoring for turbidity, the effect on wildlife, and any other issues. Moreover, Bioimpact will stop the work immediately if any issues arise, and that they will work with DPNR and the federal government to remedy prior to resumption of construction.

In respect to local employment, Gleason told Senators that many of the materials to construct have been procured and delivered to St. Croix, and with the ratification by the legislature, they will commence construction as soon as possible. The construction phase, he added, will result in employment for laborers, concrete workers, welders, inspectors and painters on St. Croix.

Other testifiers for Limetree Bay Terminals were: Joyce Wakefield, Environmental Specialist; Amy Dempsey, President of Bio Impact; and Jeff Gorman, Engineer, Lloyds Engineers. Senators at Wednesday’s Committee of Whole Hearing were: Senate President, Myron D. Jackson, Vice-President, Rivera-O’Reilly, Jean A. Forde, Neville A. James, Marvin A. Blyden, Dwayne DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, Positive T.A. Nelson, Tregenza A. Roach, Sammuel Sanes, Janelle K. Sarauw, Brian A. Smith, and Kurt A. Vialet.

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LAWMAKERS UPDATED ON THE STATUS OF THE TERRITORY AFTER HURRICANE IRMA AND HURRICANE MARIA

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St. Thomas – The Committee of the Whole led by Senate President Myron Jackson, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Friday, to receive testimony on the Territory’s status and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria from Governor’s Financial Team, the Government Health Insurance, Hospitals & Medical Centers and the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.

“Given the fact of two hurricanes, we have been out of commission for a month. May God continue to bless us through these trying times. We are known for our strength and resilience. Today, the first branch of government will add to the recovery,” said Sen. Jackson.

Before the hurricanes, the Committee on Finance held meetings in regards to the Governor’s FY 2018 Budget recommendation for all government departments and agencies. However, once the natural disasters occurred, members of the 32nd Legislature were unable to complete the process by passing the appropriation of bills that would determine the budget for FY 2018. As a result, effective October 1, 2017, the funds for the fiscal year 2017 will be re-appropriated for FY 2018.

“Considering that originally there was a ten percent reduction for FY 2018, and now the budget is based on FY 2017, will there be payless paydays for government employees?” inquired Sen. Dwayne DeGraff. Director of the Office of Management and Budget Nellon Bowry said, “That is a cash issue. However, I do not anticipate any at this point.”

Sen. Brian Smith shared his concern about the government fairly compensating first responders in the Territory for their post-hurricane overtime hours. “Many of the first responders such as the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Water and Power Authority have made extraordinary sacrifices. Do not pay them retroactive monies that can happen two years from now. Get those men and women paid fast for their time.”

In response, Clarina Elliot, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Finance stated that an assessment has begun. “We have requested per department the submission of total work hours of first responders for post-hurricane.”

The total FY 2018 General Fund expenditure budget, including debt service and tax refunds, is $914.8 million. The General Fund revenues and resources estimate, for the FY 2018 budget, totalled at $833.9 million, stated Director Bowry. He added, “The indicated $80.9 million gaps would obviously be widened significantly by the expected revenue loss and additional unreimbursed expenditures resulting from the Hurricanes. The FY 2018 budget gap could widen to as much as $325 million. Disaster-induced budget gaps will continue into FY 2019 and FY 2020.”

Sen. Forde inquired about the cost or estimate of the damage in the Territory by both hurricanes. Director Bowry said, “The figures are still unknown. The cost will be determined based on the collaboration of the federal and local governments.”

Despite the budget gap, Excise Taxes should increase due to an exponential of items/products that imported to the Territory for hurricane relief efforts stated Donnie Dorsett, Senior Policy Analyst for the Bureau of Economic Research. “However, individual income may decline due to job losses, and Hotel Revenues will decrease because of the loss of rooms available,” he added.

In addition to the Governor’s Financial Team, the Government Health Insurance, Hospitals & Medical Centers and the V.I. Department of Labor shared their post-hurricane updates.

In comparison to FY 2017, annualized premium projections for the Government Health Insurance will increase by five percent for FY 2018. Beverly Joseph, Chairperson of the Government Employee Service Commission said, “All health insurance coverages combined will increase from $155.4 million in FY 2017 to $165 million in FY 2018. Comparatively, this is an increase of $9.6 million of which the employer share will be 65%/35% for all participants.” The Government Health Insurance coverage does not include Vision Care Insurance because members are wholly responsible for this.

Bernard Wheatley, Chief Executive Officer of Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center (RLSH) stated that the RLSH, the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, and Myrah Keating damaged as a result of the hurricanes. However, despite the structural challenges some of the services that are available are Emergency Services, Cardiology, Hemodialysis, Intensive Care Unit, Maternal Child Health Services, and Laboratory Services. Due to the steady decline of patients, SRMC needs a cash influx to keep the doors open, he stated.

Richard Evangelista, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Governor Juan Francisco Luis Hospital and Medical Center (JFL) shared similar sentiments. The roof and the infrastructure of the hospital were severely damaged. Over a hundred patients were evacuated and relocated to the United States. JFL is collaborating with Federal Agencies to assist with the disaster response and recovery efforts.

Lastly, updates from the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) include a report of severe damage to the St. Thomas office building, according to Catherine Hendry, Esq., Commissioner of VIDOL. As a result, some operations were moved to the St. Croix offices including processing of unemployment insurance for claimants, and printed and distributed unemployment Insurance Checks. VIDOL is also collaborating with the local and federal governments for recovery efforts.

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Committee. of the Whole Oct. 13, 2017

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October 13, 2017, Committee of the Whole

Please be advised, Committee of the Whole has been scheduled for 10:00 A.M., Friday, October 13,
2017, in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on the island of St. Thomas. The committee will
receive testimony regarding the Territory’s status from the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria
from the following:
 Governor’s Financial Team
 Department of Health
 Department of Human Services
 Juan F. Luis Hospital
 Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center
 Department of Education
 Department of Labor
 Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency

SENATE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES POSTPONEMENT OF MEETINGS DUE TO IRMA

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ST. THOMAS – Senate President Myron D. Jackson announces that legislative meetings scheduled for the week of September 4 to 8 are postponed, due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma. The public will be informed of new dates. A final determination regarding the Legislative Session scheduled for September 8 will be made once the storm passes and its impacts are determined, he said.

Regarding the operations of the Legislature on all three islands, legislative employees are expected to report to work for 8 a.m. on Tuesday to secure their offices and, upon completion, will be allowed to leave at noon to continue their hurricane preparations at home. Casual wear is encouraged.

Based on reports from the National Hurricane Center and VITEMA, President Jackson said the Virgin Islands will likely be impacted by wind, rain, and ocean surge, particularly in the northern areas.

“As those reports are received I shall inform the public, all senators and our staff as to the operations of the Legislature,” he said. “All persons should therefore carefully monitor the media, including LEGIT TV – which can be accessed on Channel 5 throughout the territory, for announcements which may inform as to the operational status of the Legislature during the affected period.”

President Jackson said that the Legislature shall operate during this period only as weather conditions permit.

“Should the weather dictate the cessation of our operation for safety and health concerns, those decisions shall be made promptly and specific announcements shall be made,” he said. “I offer a prayer that all persons in the Virgin Islands, the Leeward and Windward Islands, and elsewhere be spared from Hurricane Irma. Please look to protect your families, friends, and properties be safe.”

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SENATORS REJECT KEVIN RODRIQUEZ AS MEMBER OF 32ND LEGISLATURE

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ST. THOMAS – A majority of senators of the 32nd Legislature, voted Wednesday afternoon to reject Senator-Elect Kevin A. Rodriguez as a member of the body, finding that he did not meet the qualifications to serve, citing inconsistencies in his testimony regarding his residency, and lack of proper vetting by the Virgin Islands Board of Elections.

At the end of a second day of Legislative Session, legislators weighed in on the definition of domicile and residency, and conflicts between Mr. Rodriquez’ claim in bankruptcy filings in the states that his bona fide residency was in Tennessee, and the three year residency requirement for candidates seeking elected office in the Virgin Islands.

“There is a process that speaks to legality and what becomes legal when you take an oath and you state that what is before the court is so. He says that it’s a mistake, and that likewise that mistake should not be a factor for us to consider,” President Jackson said, referencing the oath administered to senators at the start of the term to uphold the laws of the U.S. Constitution.

The decision brings closer to conclusion the more than six-month long process that began when challengers Janelle K. Sarauw and Brigitte Berry filed a lawsuit against Mr. Rodriquez on December 9, 2016 in V.I. Superior Court.

While several senators sympathized with Rodriquez’ desire to prevent his family from being evicted from their home in Tennessee, most of the members of the majority said they could not support him.

During her debate time, Vice President Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly ran down a timeline of Rodriquez’s documents overwhelmingly stating his residence was in Tennessee.

Majority Leader Neville James said there were no issues with his qualifications when it came to being a U.S. citizen, being over the age of 21, or being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude or felony, “however, there are issues concerning Rodriquez being a bona-fide resident and a qualified voter in the Virgin Islands.”

When asked by Senator Marvin Blyden to clarify whether someone could be a bona-fide resident in two places, Attorney Yvonne Tharpes, Legal Counsel at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, stated that an individual can be a resident in two locations but can only be a bona-fide resident in one. However, she stated there was not any evidence that Rodriquez was domiciled in Tennessee during the period in question and that the facts lead to Rodriquez only being domiciled in the Territory.

“This case comes down to bona-fide residency that was made in Tennessee according to the bankruptcy filings. During that same year, Rodriquez claimed residency in the Virgin Islands. In the process of protecting his family an error was made and there are consequences,” said Sen. Kurt Vialet.

Overall, with a vote of 8 nays and 6 yays, lawmakers did not approve Kevin Rodriquez to be a member of the 32nd Legislature. Senators who voted no are Myron Jackson, Marvin Blyden, Jean Forde, Neville James, Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, Novelle Francis, Sammuel Sanes and Kurt Vialet. Senators who voted yes are Positive T.A. Nelson, Dwayne DeGraff, Janette Millin Young, Tregenza Roach, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and Brian Smith.

 

Earlier in the day, senators shared their support for Nominee Eldondane Francis Member V. I. Taxi Cab Commission and voted on several bills.

 

Ultimately, senators voted favorably for the nomination. Policymakers also voted and approved the following leases and bills:

 

    • Bill No. 32-0122- An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and Island Building Association.

 

    • Bill No. 32-0124- Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the Department of Agriculture and Allison L. DeGazon c/o Cruzan Oraganix Farm Inc.

 

    • Bill No. 32-0042 – An Act repealing Title 22 Virgin Islands Code Section 125 “The Virgin Islands Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act” to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and update the insurance laws of the Territory placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions, and providing greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the Territory

 

    • Bill No. 32-0066 – An Act making an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the purchase of surveillance cameras to be installed at selected bin sites

 

    • Bill No. 32-0084 – An Act amending Title 19, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 31, Section 723 relating to extending the time a person may be detained involuntary for mental health treatment

 

    • Bill No. 32-0085 – An Act amending Title 19, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 31, Section 722 relating to mental health emergency commitments by extending the time a person may be detained for treatment

 

    • Bill No. 32-0125-An Act appropriating a sum not exceeding $480,000 to purchase the real property identified in Act No. 7990, section 1 (a) to complete the Paul E. Joseph Stadium Project

 

    • Bill No. 32-0111 – An Act to amend Title 1, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 11 to establish September as Virgin Islands Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and to require an annual proclamation by the Governor

 

    • Bill No. 32-0066 – An Act making an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the purchase of surveillance cameras to be installed at selected bin sites

 

All items approved will be forwarded to the governor.

 

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SENATORS JUDGE THE QUALIFICATIONS OF SENATOR-ELECT KEVIN RODRIQUEZ

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the 32nd Legislature, chaired by Senate President Myron Jackson, convened in Legislative Session at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, to judge the qualifications of Senator-Elect Kevin Rodriquez to serve as a senator in the 32nd Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

 

“After many litigations, this process still has to be determined. This discourse speaks to the process that began before the formation of the 32nd Legislature. On January 9, 2017, the Board of Elections gave an oath of office to members of the 32nd Legislature with an exception of Senator-Elect Rodriquez,” said Sen. Jackson.

 

Rising out of Legislative Session and into the Committee of the Whole, lawmakers received testimony on the credentials of Senator-Elect Rodriquez. This is Pursuant to Section 6g of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands that states in part, no person shall be eligible to be a member of the legislature who has not been a bona-fide resident of the Virgin Islands for at least three years preceding the date of election.

 

Senator-Elect Rodriquez said, “I was a bona-fide resident of the Virgin Islands since January 5, 2013, when I moved back home from Tennessee for good. The undisputed evidence that I have presented prove that I was qualified to run for senate.”

 

“Can you define the term bona-fide resident?” asked Sen. Marvin Blyden. In response, Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker Esq. said, “The Revised Organic Act does not define the term.  However, because the Revised Organic Act serves as a de facto constitution for the Virgin Islands, to determine meaning, we should consider how similar language has been used in other state constitutions.”

 

Despite the testimonies presented, Resident Janelle Sarauw stated that the Senate-Elect Rodriquez was not residing in the Territory. “The Forward Movement Team maintains that Mr. Rodriguez does not meet the eligibility requirements as it pertains to residency,” said Sarauw.

 

“What does residency mean?” asked Sen. Brian Smith. Retained Council Kye Walker, Esq. from the Walker Legal Group stated that there is not one legal definition for the term residency. Sen Brian continued his inquiry, “What does domicile mean in terms of a registrant’s legal residence?” Attorney General Walker said, “A person can have two residencies but only one domicile. Legal residence or domicile is the place where a person habitually resides when not called elsewhere to work for a temporary purpose.”

 

Similarly, Sen. Nereida O’Reilly asked for further clarification of the term domicile. “Can legal domicile be determined by a person obtaining a driver’s license or voter’s registration card?” Attorney General Walker said, “Domicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with state of mind concerning one’s intent to remain there. The Act does not speak specifically to driver’s license or a voter’s registration card.”

 

Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen inquired about the qualifications of Senator-Elect Rodriquez. “In accordance to the requirements by law, have you found that Rodriquez fulfilled all legal obligations of the Board of Elections?” asked Sen. Hansen. Caroline Fawkes, Supervisor of Elections for the Election System of the Virgin Islands said, “Yes, Rodriquez was a certified candidate who was legally eligible to run for public office.”

 

Sen. Janette Millin Young had questions as it relates to the deficiencies of a candidate. “In the previous election, were there letters of deficiencies that were mailed?” Supervisor Fawkes said, “Yes, there were candidates who received a letter.” Sen. Millin Young asked, “Can you provide examples of a deficiency?” Supervisor Fawkes stated that incorrect or not enough signatures and inadequate mailing or physical addresses can lead to candidate receiving a letter of deficiency. Sen. Millin Young inquired, “Was Rodriquez a recipient of such letter?” Supervisor Fawkes stated that he was not.

 

Upon completion of Committee of the Whole, the meeting will remain in recess until Thursday, June 28, 2017.

 

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