Category: Rules & Judiciary

RULES AND JUDICIARY APPROVES NOMINEE AND SEVERAL BILLS

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ST. CROIX–The Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr, met Thursday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix for the consideration of a nominee to the Taxicab Association in St. Thomas and several proposed legislations.

Eldonane Francis nominated by Governor Kenneth Mapp to serve on the Taxicab Association from the District of St. Thomas said training is most lacking when it comes to some of the taxi drivers in Tourism Industry. He talked about encountering rude and uninformed drivers. In his written testimony, he said he would work with the Tourism Office and the Taxicab Commission to conduct the necessary training to all Taxi Drivers. He added that this training would be conducted in accordance with the University of the Virgin Islands.

Testifying in support of the nominee was Kenrick Bartlette who said he believed that Francis would be a wonderful asset in helping to make the Taxicab Association even more successful in its endeavor. The Committee voted in favor of the nominee and sent his name to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No.32-0111 proposed by Senator Samuel Sanes amends the Virgin Islands Code to establish September as Virgin Islands Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and to require an annual proclamation by the Governor. Testifying on the Bill was Dona Browne Jones, an Ovarian Cancer Survivor who asked that the Bill be amended because September is Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month nationally. The Bill was amended to Read: “Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month which reflected Jones’s suggestion. It was voted out of the Committee with a favorable recommendation to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No.32-0103 sponsored by Senator Sammuel Sanes amended the Virgin Islands Code relating to imprisonment of minors for First Degree murder. The Bill prohibits a court from sentencing a minor convicted of first degree murder to a sentence of natural life without parole and setting a new minimum of 15 years for juveniles up to maximum of life imprisonment.

The committee received testimonies from Claude Walker, Attorney General of the Virgin Islands, Joseph Ponteen, Assistant Attorney General; Samuel Joseph, Chief Public Defender, Office of the Public Defender; and Patricia Welcome, General Counsel for the Department of Human Services on behalf of Felecia Blyden the Commissioner.

The Attorney General said it is the Department of Justice’s position that the legislation before them be amended to reflect a new minimum mandatory sentence that comports more closely with what the majority of other jurisdictions have adopted.
Attorney Welcome of Human Services offered several suggested amendments to help strengthened the Bill. Chief Public Defender Joseph said establishing a mandatory maximum sentence might be a better option, saying that doing so would allow the courts to give sentences appropriate for each defendant.

Senator Sanes said many states have adopted similar laws and that the Virgin Islands has had cases involving minors as young as 14 years old who have been given harsh sentences with no chance of rehabilitation.
Committee Members voted to hold the Bill in Committee for amending purposes.

Senator Nellie Rivera-O’Reilly sponsored two pieces of legislation, namely Bill No.320084 which amended the Virgin Code relating to extending the time a person may be detained involuntary from mental health treatment, and Bill No.32-0085 which amended the Virgin Code relating to mental health emergency commitments by extending the time a person may be detained for treatment were amended and voted out of the committee with favorable recommendations and sent to the Full Body for further consideration.
Testifying on both Bills was Joseph Ponteen Assistant Attorney General.

Bill No.32-0066 sponsored by Senator Marvin Blyden was an act making an appropriation from the Anti-Liter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the purchase of surveillance cameras to be installed at selected bin sites. Members voted in favor and sent it on to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No.32-oo42 sponsored by Senator Neville James, repealed the Virgin Islands Code and added a Chapter entitled “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 jurisdiction, and providing greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the Territory.
The Committee voted in favor of the Bill as amended and sent it on to the Full Body for further consideration.

Committee members at Thursday’s meeting were: Chairman Senator Novelle Francis, Jr., Myron d. Jackson, Sammuel Sanes, Janette Millin Young, Positive T.A. Nelson, and Marvin A. Blyden. Non-Committee member were Senators Brian Smith and Kurt Vialet.

COMMITTEE ON RULES & JUDICIARY FORWARDS SIX BILLS TO FULL BODY FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION

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ST. THOMASThe Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Novelle Francis Jr., convened at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to consider several measures and receive testimony on Monday.

Bill No. 32-0010, which seeks to amend the rate and computation of franchise taxes, was proposed by Sen. Francis. Bill No. 32-0030, proposed by Sen. Janette Millin-Young, seeks to amend Title 33 V.I. Code, Section 2404 limiting increases in the assessed value of real property for purposes of property tax. Both measures were held in Committee after receiving formal requests to postpone from Lieutenant Governor Osbert Potter.

The formal request to postpone Bill No. 32-0010 until the week of June 26-30 will allow all parties involved time to clarify the proposal to better address concerns of the public and private sectors. Bill No. 32-0030’s formal request to postpone indicated that the proposal failed to address the real needs of the taxpayers.

A Real Property Task Force was convened to devise solutions to lessen the impact of increasing property assessments. Copies of the Task Force Report were distributed last week to each Senator and uses data-driven evidence, real world examples and a proposal for legislation that can address the taxpayer’s concerns. The publication is available at a cost via the Lt. Governor’s Office.

Bill No. 32-0002, proposed by Sen. Millin-Young, seeks authorization to purchase Estate Catherineberg from the West Indian Company, Limited (WICO) by offsetting payments owed in lieu of taxes, as mandated by Act No. 5826, as amended. Clifford Graham, President and CEO of WICO, gave testimony in support of the measure, while sharing commendations and plans to convert the estate into a museum. The measure passed favorably to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No. 0052, a Resolution to honor and commend Allen Hayes, Sr. for his contributions to the community as a police officer and a healer, proposed by Sen. Marvin Blyden was forwarded to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0084, proposed by Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, seeks to amend Title 19, V.I. Code, Chapter 31, Section 723 relating to extending the time a person may be detained involuntarily for mental health treatment. The measure was held in committee until the call of the Chairman. Bill No. 32-0085, proposed by Sen. O’Reilly, an Act that seeks to amend Title 19, V.I. Code, Chapter 31, Section 722 relating to mental health emergency commitments by extending the time a person may be detained for treatment. The measure was held in committee until the call of the Chairman.

Bill No. 32-0038, proposed by Sen. Jean Forde, an Act that seeks to amend Title 3, Chapter 11, Section 26b; Title 20, Section 436; Title 30, Section 15A; and Title 17, Section 475 providing for the acceptance of a Real ID as a valid form of identification for various senior citizens. The measure passed favorably to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No 32-0039, proposed by Sen. Forde, an Act that seeks to amend V.I. Code, Title 8, Chapter 1, Section 9, Subsection (a) to change the amount of Tavern Keeper Liquor Licenses (A) that can be in effect within the historic districts of the Virgin Islands. The bill was favorably passed to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No 32-0040, proposed by Sen. Positive Nelson, an Act that seeks to amend Title 1 V.I. Code, Chapter 11 commemorating the week of June 26th to July 3rd as Virgin Islands Freedom Week and amending Title 24, Chapter 1, Section 4 to require employers to pay time and one half for work done on July 3rd. The measure was passed favorably, as amended to the Full Body for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0088, proposed by Sen. Myron Jackson by Request of the Governor, an Act to provide for the reprogramming of funds appropriated from the Community Facilities Trust Account authorized under Act No. 7012 for certain capital projects through the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation. The bill was favorably approved and forwarded to the Full Body for further consideration.

“The bills being vetted represent a broad spectrum of the issues that we grapple with every day as your representatives in this Body. I must commend all of my colleagues for their role in bringing legislation forward to be held in this Committee,” stated Sen. Francis.

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