Category: Senators

2ND ANNUAL STENOGRAPHER’S DAY

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ST. THOMAS- The Office of Sen. Janelle Sarauw and the Legislature of the Virgin Islands Division of Reporters collaborated to host the 2nd Annual Stenographer’s Day held at the Capitol Building on Friday. The event showcases the tasks, duties and career opportunities of stenographers to a group of high school students.

“The purpose of today is to expose the youths to the profession of stenography as they begin to explore career possibilities,” said Sen. Janelle Sarauw. “Young people will have an opportunity to learn from professionals in the field who are passionate about stenography and look forward to sharing their profession and experiences.”

Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory stated that this is one of the most awesome professions. Lawmakers are researching scholarships to support students who want to pursue a career as a stenographer or a court reporter.

Guest panelists are the Legislative Reporters Tricia Sealey, Casmus Caines, Vashti Berry, and Nataya Munoz; Retired Legislative Reporter Desiree Francis; Official Reporters for the Superior Court are Kai M. Mulley, Suzette Descartes, and Jasmine Wadie-Francis; Freelance Reporters Noreen Surge and Verdell Porter; Student Reporter Joyann Morris.

The 2nd Annual Stenographer’s Day is in conjunction with the 2019 NCRA National Court Reporting and Captioning Week which is recognized annually on February 9th-16th. The event creates awareness of court reporting and captioning. Throughout the week, participants learn about the various aspects of the profession to include salaries.  The National Court Reporting and Captioning Week is an effort to recruit career seekers to meet the high demand for employment opportunities in the trade.

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Senate Session Rescheduled to Friday

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St. Croix- Senate President Myron D. Jackson advises the community the Legislative Session scheduled for Wednesday, October 24, 2018 has been rescheduled to Friday, October 26, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chamber on St. Thomas.

Senator Jackson said the Governor has called the Body into a Special Session at 10 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2018 to consider legislation that will provide tuition free post-secondary assistance to residents of the Virgin Islands at the University of the Virgin Islands. “It would be prudent consolidate resources by rescheduling our original date and to conduct the business of the people at the end of the Special Session,” indicated Senate President Jackson.

At 2 p.m., the Legislature intends to consider the St. Croix Government Retirees, Inc. Petition Initiative on reapportionment of the Legislature.

The Senate President apologizes for any inconvenience that this may have caused and reminds residents to follow all of the proceedings on Viya Cable Channel 26, on the internet:  https://livestream.com/legittv, https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature/ and on radio at WSVE 91.9 FM.

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BILL TO RENAME THE V.I. CASINO CONTROL COMMISSION BUILDING “THE EILEEN R. PETERSON CASINO CONTROL COMMISSION BUILDING” MOVES FORWARD

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs an Culture chaired by Sen. Janelle Sarauw, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, to vote and approve Bill No. 32-0193-An Act to honor and commend the Honorable Eileen R. Peterson for her service to the community, to name the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission Building in her honor and to make an appropriation. The measure will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

“We should honor our own,” said Sen. Sarauw. “As a female politician, we are often judged by society. It is my impression that Judge Peterson broke the glass with water pouring down from the ceiling. She paved the way for many of us.”

Judge Peterson was the first female Judge in the Territorial Court of the Virgin Islands.  She was also the first appointed chairwoman of the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission. She was responsible for establishing the foundation, educating board members on the regulatory rules and guidelines, and was an advocate for the community by disseminating positive information to uplift young people through “The Village” a group dedicated to raising the youths.

In a written testimony submitted by Henry Smock, Esq. He commended Judge Peterson for her compassionate demeanor towards everyone. “Even in the most trying of criminal and civil cases, she never lost her composure and treated all litigants that came before her with decency and respect.”

Gizette Thomas, Esq. The successor of Judge Peterson as chairwoman of the Commission stated that the judge touched the lives of many people. “Judge Peterson’s name is theoretically eternal, as is evident from her legacy of first and documented history of positive impact in this community. Her name provides stability and trustworthiness representative of sound decisions.”

“I was brought on board with the Commission as an Inspector,” said Henry Schjang. “Judge Peterson ensured that the entire staff at the Casino Control Commission were properly educated and trained in the gaming industry. Judge Peterson sent the staff to be trained by the experts in the field and would often test us by asking a question as it relates to the rules.”

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Novelle Francis shared his remarks. She was a trailblazer and laid the groundwork for members of the Commission. The Territory will reap the benefits of her tenacity for many years to come.

Sen. Brian Smith stated that it takes one with the right amount of courage to keep pushing. Fortitude and courage are what’s required, and Judge Peterson embodies both.

In accordance to Section 4 of the bill, in recognition and appreciation of her contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands, the President of the Legislature of the President’s designee shall present to Judge Eileen R. Peterson, or her representative, a perma copy of this act at the appropriate ceremony.                                                                                                                                ###

PLASTIC BAG BAN EXTENDS TO INCLUDE PLASTIC STRAWS

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ST. THOMAS– The Committee on Government Affairs, Veterans, Energy & Environmental Protection, chaired by Sen. Sammuel Sanes, convened on Wednesday to receive testimony amending the plastic bag ban to include disposable plastic straws and other measures.

Amendment No. 32-740 for Bill No. 32-0220, an Act amending Title 29 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 8 sought to extend the ban on plastic bags to include disposable, plastic drinking straws and to allow the sale of reusable drinking straws. Bill sponsor, Sen. Janelle Sarauw, introduced Amendment No. 32-740 to insert a definition for plastic tubular stirrer, prohibit businesses from purchasing and importing plastic disposable straws and stirrers. The measure proposed excluded hospitals, nursing homes and medical supply retailers. “As small as straws may be, they leave a lasting impact on our marine environment. We have already lost 80 percent of our coral reef cover in the Caribbean region,” stated Sen. Sarauw. The measure proposed does not apply to hospitals, nursing homes and medical supply retailers.

“I understand the concerns expressed about imported products with straws attached but excluding those items in this amendment does not address the problem at hand,” said Sen. Tregenza Roach. He commended the sponsors and the amendments brought forth in today’s hearing and recommended that the language of the measure and any amendment should be consistent with its purpose. Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly stated, “This amendment is a step in the right direction and an opportunity for us to change our footprint and reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in our territory.”

Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen previously voted against the bill, citing lack of community input and unclear language for her decision. “The issue regarding our environment is always viable, but it must be done with caution,” she stated. Sen. Marvin Blyden added, “I agree that the Bill needs more work in regard to enforcement within our communities, as plastic bags are still being offered to residents.”

Amendment 32-740 was forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0204, an Act amending Title 12 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 16A by redefining “government agency” and by defining “communications provider”, and requiring that a government agency that installs, relocates, or improves conduits within the public rights-of-way, including a government agency that receives federal funding for such work, ensure that the conduit is of sufficient size to accommodate use by multiple communication providers for their use in providing service, or to permit a communications provider to install its own conduit at its option and cost. “This policy is not new, it has been implemented across the nation in an attempt to reduce the costs of deploying utilities and underground construction,” added Sen. O’Reilly. “It also expands broadband access to rural areas in our community.”

The government agency must also place handholes and manholes for fiber access and pulling with respect to such conduit, must provide reasonable notice to communication providers, and must ensure that any requesting communication provider has access to the conduit for a charge not to exceed a cost-based rate. “I don’t understand the need for this bill based on the research conducted, there is some degree of suggestion that this would impact VInGn and I must err on the side of caution,” expressed Sen. Forde. Members present favorably approved and forwarded Bill No. 32-0204 to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary.

Committee members present at Wednesday’s hearing were Chairman Sammuel Sanes, Senators Jean Forde, Marvin Blyden, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Tregenza Roach, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and Janette Millin Young.

 

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FINANCE COMMITTEE APPROVES LEASE AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND PRIVATE BUSINESSES

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Kurt Vialet, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday and considered several lease agreements between the Department of Property and Procurement (DPP) on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) and private entities. All approved measures will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Lease Agreement between the DPP on behalf of GVI and Charles Electrical Services, LLC. For the premises described as Parcel No. 100 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, consisting of approximately 1.143 sq. Ft. which is zoned “C” Commercial as shown on O.L.G. No. b9-278-170. The purpose is to renovate and used to operate as an office and warehouse for an Electrical Contractor. Policymakers voted and approved this lease agreement.

The term of the agreement is for 20 years. The annual rent is $10,143.0 paid in monthly installments of $845.25. “There is a clause in the rent abatement of 36 months. However, in the original agreement, the rent abatement was for 18 months. Can you expound?” asked Sen. Tregenza Roach. Vincent Richards, Deputy Commissioner of the Property and Printing of DPP, stated that the 18 months is a typo. The rent reduction is for 36 months because of the Hurricane Marilyn damaged property.  The client continues to pay for expenses to clean up. Once the building is in use for business, DPP will collect rent from the tenant.

GVI acting by and through DPP will enter into a proposed Lease Agreement with ERK Corporation for Parcel No. 48 Estate Nadir, No. 2 Red Hook Quarter, St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands, consisting of 6,677sq. Ft. and zone W-1, shown on OLG No. D9-3897-T08. The property will be used to operate a catering service business. Senators voted and approved this lease agreement.

Emerson Knight, Sr. President of E.R.K. Corporation, stated that a permanent structure would further stabilize the business. “We need a brick and mortar location to promote expansion and have a consistent face to face contact with our customers,” said Knight.  Deputy Commissioner Richards added that the terms of the lease agreement are to all the business to expand, invest and improve government premises. This lease agreement is a long-term investment.

GVI acting by and through DPP will enter into a lease agreement with Quality Paving, LLC. For Parcel No. 149 Rem. Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands consisting of 4.51 U.S. Acres or 196,645 U.S. sq. Ft. The purpose of the property will be used to operate a paving company, asphalt plant, aggregate storage, offices, and a concrete plant. Senators voted and approved this lease agreement.

In response to a line of questioning by Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, President of Quality Paving Neil Carty stated that he is not partnering with anyone from the company Better Roads for this business venture. Warren Mosler is not an investor in this project. However, there are investors lined up once the lease is approved and Quality Paving, LLC intends on hiring thirty employees.

Separately, lawmakers also approved Bill No. 32-0123, a lease agreement between GVI through DPP on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Ricardo Barnes for the premises described as Plot# 22-1Estate Plessen, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands consisting of approximately 4.711 U.S. acres more or less as shown on O.L.G. drawing #4128.

However, senators voted to hold in committee Lease Agreement between DPP on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands and Industrious Auto Repair, Inc. for premise described as Parcel Nos. 51 and 51A Submarine Base. No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, consisting of 42,053 total sq. Ft., and Zoned “C.”

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2018 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON PREPAREDNESS UPDATE

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St. Thomas- Members of the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety, chaired by Sen. Brian Smith, held a meeting at the Capitol Building to receive testimony on preparedness for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season from officials of the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and the Virgin Islands Port Authority.

VITEMA’s 2018 Hurricane Season preparedness initiatives include informing the public via radio talk shows on “Preparedness Tip of the Week” in collaboration with FEMA, launching an interactive website and Alert VI an emergency notification system that alerts residents with texts and email messages. Alert VI operates in conjunction with FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. VITEMA is also disseminating information via social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“Although our efforts are focused on recovery from Irma and Maria, preparedness for the 2018 Hurricane season, in accordance to the National preparedness priorities, we continue to implement and maintain preparedness initiatives such as continuing the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign,” said Mona Barnes, Director of VITEMA. “Our Tsunami’s Readiness campaign and updating our training and exercise plan to include other hazards.”

Sen. Smith inquired, “After experiencing two hurricanes in 2017, what are the lessons learned?” Barnes stated that there were gaps in communications, sheltering plans, a point of distribution operations, patient evacuations, temporary power, and emergency route clearance. “The 2018 Hurricane Season, assisted by Federal Funds provided through disaster programs activated by the Stafford Act,” added Barnes.

Regarding the emergency shelters, Sen. Novelle Francis said, “A lot of people still have blue roofs, how many shelters are available?” Barnes stated that currently there are only two equipped shelters in the wake of a storm. VITEMA has collaborated with FEMA to obtain generators for five shelters. In total there are twelve shelters, but not all are structurally sound.  FEMA’s Public Assistance and Mitigation Grant programs provide funding to restore facilities.

To date, VITEMA received $1.3 billion and is expected to acquire $1 billion more from the Public Assistance and Mitigation awards. Some of the grant monies are used to replace/repair the emergency siren system for Tsunami alerts. VITEMA has satellite phones to communicate when a natural disaster hits the Territory. Lawmakers urged VITEMA to establish contracts with the private sector such as ferry services before the storms.

Separately, the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) shared an update on security at the airports and seaports. VIPA complies with all Federal mandates.  There is adequate staffing to implement security procedures, equipment to include the server are secured. Federal Authorities such as TSA and Customs and Border Patrol assist with reinforcing rules and regulations.

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

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32nd Legislature to Observe Hurricane Irma Anniversary

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ST. THOMAS – In commemoration of the anniversary of one of the most unprecedented hurricane seasons in the history of the Virgin Islands, Senate President Myron D. Jackson invites the community and first responders to join the members of the 32nd Legislature and staff in a time of remembrance to acknowledge and give thanks for our continued resilience and recovery.

A “Hurricane Irma Anniversary Observance” will be held on Wednesday, September 5, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall at the Capitol Building on St. Thomas. A “Hurricane Maria Anniversary Observance” is planned on St. Croix. The public is invited to participate.

The Virgin Islands continues to recover from the damage of both Category 5 storms. Hurricane Irma hit St. Thomas on September 6, 2018, and Hurricane Maria struck St. Croix on September 20, 2018. The activities follow the passing of Resolution No. 1845, to observe July 22, 2018, as a day of remembrance of the devastation and human suffering caused by these natural disasters and as supplication for protection during this hurricane season.

“The devastation and loss of life have been traumatic. We give God thanks for protection and blessings in seeing us through these difficult times,” President Jackson said. “If we all work together for the better good we will accomplish much. Let us be “United in Pride and Hope.”

For more information, call 340-693-3519.

 

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NOMINATIONS, COASTAL ZONE PERMITS/REQUESTS AND BILLS MOVES FORWARD

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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 Friday, to vote on items on the agenda to include nominations, a resolution, coastal zone permits/requests, and bills. All items approved will be forwarded to the governor for further consideration.

Senators voted and approved the nominations of Henry Schjang and Ronald Phillips to be members of the V.I. Racing Commission on the St. Croix District and Sheldon Turnbull to be a member of the V.I. Racing Commission on the St. Thomas District.

Sen. Janelle Sarauw and Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly stated that Turnbull was not familiar with the rules, regulations, and codes of the V.I. Racing Commission. Despite Turnbull’s lack of preparedness, Sen. Jackson said, “I want to give him an opportunity to prove himself as a member of the Commission.”

Regarding the nomination of Dr. Laura Palminteri to become a member of the V.I. Racing Commission on the St. Thomas District; senators voted to send it back to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further vetting.

“This a conflict of interest because how can she serve on the Commission although she is the only equine veterinarian in the Territory,” said Sen. Jean Forde.

Similarly, Sen. Kurt Vialet said, “Dr. Palminteri must decide because if she serves on the Commission, she will not be permitted to continue working as an equine veterinarian.”

Separately, policymakers voted and approved Bill No. 32-0237– An Act amending Title 3 V.I. Code, Chapter 25, Subchapter V, Section 555b to provide for minimum wage for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands and its semi-autonomous agencies and independent instrumentalities. Senators shared their remarks on the bill.

Sen. Myron Jackson said, “It is time to provide government employees with a decent wage. They have made many sacrifices and deserve this raise.”

Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen noted that the purpose of this measure is to put an end to the “fiasco.” This bill ensures that the Executive Order is made into law even after the election is over. “If the governor wanted to increase the living wages for government employees and meant it to stick then legislation would have been in place. The law states that the Executive Branch cannot spend the public’s money without the authorization of the Legislature,” she said.

Sen. Tregenza also stated that “This bill prevents the governor from issuing an Executive Order to revoke the salary increases.”

Lawmakers voted and approved the following:

  • Bill No. 32-0173 – A Resolution honoring and commending The Family Resource Center for its services to victims and families in the U.S. Virgin Islands throughout the years
  • Bill No. 32-0249 – An Act Ratifying Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ29-16-W issued to Low Key Watersports, Inc Bill No. 32-0250 – An Act Ratifying Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ14-16(W) to the Brent Squire Revocable Trust c/o Brent Squires, Trustee
  • Bill No. 32-0251 – An Act ratifying the Governor’s approval of Major Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ-214(W) issued by the St. John Committee of the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Commission to the Joseph John Marcus Trust
  • Bill No. 32-0254 – An Act ratifying the Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ-24-16W issued to Pillsbury Sound Land Company, Inc
  • Bill No. 32-0242 – An Act to amend Official Zoning District Map STZ-7 to allow for the rezoning of Parcel No. 48 Estate Thomas, No. 6A New Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands from R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two Family) to B-1 (Business-Central Business District)
  • Bill No. 32-0253 – An Act granting a use variance to Parcel No. 105 Remainder Estate Bolongo Bay, No. 3 Frenchman Bay Quarter, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to convert the variance granted for a bowling alley to a use variance for office and incidental storage use
  • Bill No. 32-0185 – An Act amending Title 23 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10 Section 1005 relating to the Governor of the Virgin Islands and emergencies and major disasters
  • Bill No. 32-0232 – An Act amending Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 21, Section 514 and adding Chapter 22 relating to life and health reinsurance agreements
  • Bill No. 32-0233 – An Act amending Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code adding Chapter 26 to provide for Annual Audit and Financial Reporting to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to update the Insurance Laws of the Territory placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions to give greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the territory; and repealing Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code, Section 222a
  • Bill No. 32-0234 – An Act amending Chapter 43 of Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a subchapter II enacting the Property and Casualty Actuarial Opinion Act to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in its model laws to update the Insurance Laws of the territory
  • Bill No. 32-0244 – An Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 1, Subchapter VII, Section 161 relating to the practice of optometry
  • Bill No. 32-0247 – Quitclaim Deed from the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands to Cyril LaPlace as Trustee of the Cyril A. La Place Trust for the following properties: Parcel No. 11-B Estate Dorothea, No. 6 Little Northside Quarter St. Thomas, Virgin Islands consisting of approximately 230 square feet more or less as illustrated on OLG NO. D9-9141-T016 dated March 14, 2016.
  • Bill No. 32-0119-An Act amending title 33 V.I. Code, chapter 81, section 2301 (e) relating to the limit of exemptions and credits to real property owners to exempt veterans, senior citizens and person with disabilities from exemption and credit limit
  • Bill No. 32-0258-An Act providing for the extension of the limitations period to file a claim under title 22 V.I. Code, chapter 33, section 820, subsection (a) paragraph (3) Hurricanes Irma and Maria and amending title 22 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 33, section 820, subsection (a) paragraph (3) to provide for a two-year limitation period for loss occurring as a result of an emergency or major disaster
  • Bill No. 32-0238-An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 27, section 715, subsection (b) paragraph (7) to require the Government Retirement System to seek the Legislature’s approval before implementation of any policy that impacts the member’s benefits

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

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BILL TO INCREASE LIVING WAGE FOR GOV. EMPLOYEES MOVES FORWARD

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St. Thomas- Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Kurt Vialet, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Monday, and voted to approve several measures including Bill No. 32-0237-An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 25, subchapter V, section 555b to provide for minimum wage for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI), its semi-autonomous agencies and independent instrumentalities.

“This bill was originally introduced at the beginning of this term when the economic state of the Virgin Islands was declining,” said Sen. Forde. “Since then, we have seen the improvements in corporate investments and businesses that now afford us the opportunity to enact these wage increases.”

Bill No. 32-0237 was initially proposed in February 2017 by senators Jean Forde, Kurt Vialet, and Marvin Blyden. On July 30, 2018, Governor Kenneth E. Mapp released the Executive Order 437-2018 and 438-2018 with the intent to provide a living wage to government employees. However, the Executive Order wasn’t implemented until August 1, 2018. Explicitly, the Executive Order states that all annual salaries of Executive Branch employees will increase to $13/hr. or $27,040 annum. The base salaries of social workers, teachers, and other vital government workers will also rise.

“We know the realities of the financial state of the Territory. Was an analysis conducted before issuing the Executive Order?” asked Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly. Julio Rhymer, Director of Office and Management and Budget stated that the cost of living in the Territory is significantly higher than the mainland, but there is a reduction of salaries in the same positions on the mainland. The $27,040 salary gives employees an ability to qualify for homeownership programs. “How will GVI finance the living wage increase?” inquired Sen. O’Reilly. Director Rhymer stated that supplemental income totaling $11 million would cover the raises. Based on a five-year projection of the economy, GVI can sustain the increase.”  However, Sen. Positive Nelson stated that this is “unreal, unrealistic, and unsustainable.”

The breakdown of the $11 million is as follows: the raises for government employees is an estimated $4 million to $6 million and the wage increase for unionized employees is $5 million. “How much money was set aside for non-unionized employees?” asked Sen. Tregenza Roach. Director Rhymer stated that separately, approximately $15 million for non-unionized employees and $10 million for the Department of Education.

Sen. Dwayne DeGraff inquired, “Will monies from the Property Tax and Sin Tax be used to support the living wage increase?” Director Rhymer stated that there are other funds set aside such as the ArcLight Deal. The wage increases are not financed by either tax. “The last minimum wage increase was in 2005,” added Sen. Vialet. “The Sin Tax and Property Tax has nothing to do with the increase of today.”

Separately, policymakers voted and approved the following bills below. All measures adopted will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

  • Bill No. 32-0229 – An Act amending Title 23 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Subchapter I, Section 1004 requiring the Government of the Virgin Islands to enter into contracts before June 1 of each year in preparedness for hurricane season or any emergency or major disaster
  • Quitclaim Deed from the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands to Cyril LaPlace as Trustee of the Cyril A. La Place Trust for the following property: Parcel No. 11-B Estate Dorothea, No. 6 Little Northside Quarter St. Thomas, Virgin Islands consisting of approximately 230 square feet as illustrated on OLG NO. D9-9141-T016 dated March 14, 2016.

However, the following was held in committee:

  • Bill No. 32-0101 – An Act appropriating $100,000 from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to Calypso, Inc. for continuing musical education for the youth of the Virgin Islands and;
  • Bill No. 32-0076 – An Act to amend title 33, chapter 3, by adding section 43k allowing for the reduction of the gross receipts tax of one percentage point for established businesses that show 12% year over year revenue growth
  • Bill No. 32-0256 – To amend VIC Title 9 by adding a new Chapter 14 to address Consumer and Commercial Loan activities and to add a new chapter related to Consumer and Commercial Loans

Senators present are Kurt Vialet, Dwayne DeGraff, Tregenza Roach, Brian Smith, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, Janelle Sarauw, Neville James, and Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, Jean Forde, Janette Millin Young.                                                  Photos: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media                                                           ###

NOMINATIONS FOR THE V.I. RACING COMMISSION MOVES

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Novelle Francis, held a meeting at the Capitol Building to vote and approve the nominations of Sheldon Turnbull and Laura Palminteri, MD. to serve as a member on the V.I. Racing Commission for the St. Thomas-St. John District. The nomination was sent by the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Kenneth E. Mapp as outlined in Section 16(c) of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and Title 3, Section 65a of the V.I. Code.

Turnbull stated that although he is not an expert in the Horse Racing Industry, he has participated in various capacities. “I am a fan and a broadcaster for over twenty years. I have been involved in discussions concerning horse racing and its survival and growth in the Virgin Islands numerous times,” said Turnbull. Sen. Janelle Sarauw inquired, “What research have you done regarding marketing on the mainland?” Turnbull noted that horse racing in the U.S. is very different in comparison to the Virgin Islands because locally there are limitations. However, interisland racing draws the most excitement amongst residents.

Some of Turnbull’s goals are to unify the rules and operations between horseracing in both Districts and to have a balanced racing calendar between the Clinton E. Phipps and Randal Doc James Racetracks. “How would you balance the horse races between both districts?” asked Sen. Francis. In response, Turnbull said, “There is not a balance between holiday weekend races. Previously, there was a conflict with scheduling races, which hurts the industry. Therefore, he will tackle that issue.”

Dr. Palminteri has over twenty years of experience working with thoroughbred racing in the Territory. She has a veterinary medical background and has worked as a track veterinarian for Yonkers Raceway, Meadowlands Racetrack, Monticello Racetracks, Belmont Racetrack and Goshen Raceway. “As a member, I would strive to elevate and modernize the standards of racing in the Territory and to make it as safe as possible for both the animals and jockey,” she said.

“Do you see the Horse Racing Industry becoming lucrative for participants?” asked Sen. Janette Millin Young. Palminteri said, No, because financially horse racing barely breaks-even. Promoters are needed to attract visitors from the mainland to help the industry to grow locally.

Some senators expressed concerns of conflict of interest as it pertains to Palminteri becoming a member of the commission although she is the only veterinarian specializing in equine care in the Territory. In response, Palminteri stated that neither positions affect her role in horse racing from a medical viewpoint because she must examine each horse before the race.

Separately, lawmakers voted and approved the following bills below. All items approved will be forwarded to the full body for further consideration.

  • Bill No. 32-0173 – A Resolution Honoring and Commending “The Family Resource Center” for its services to victims and families in the US Virgin Islands throughout the years;
  • Bill No. 32-0244 – An Act amending Title 27 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 1 Subchapter           VII, Section 161 relating to the practice of optometry;
  • Bill No. 32-0245 – An Act amending Title 19 of the Virgin Islands Code, Part II, Chapter 15, Section 221 to define urgent care facilities and stand-alone facilities and section 223 to accept urgent care facilities from the requirement of getting a certificate of need mandating that these entities must take the MAP, Medicare, and uninsured patients;
  • Bill No. 32-0185 – An Act amending Title 23 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Section 1005 relating to the Governor of the Virgin Islands and emergencies and major disasters

Senators present are Novelle Francis, Positive Nelson, Janette Millin Young, Myron Jackson, Janelle Sarauw, Sammuel Sanes, Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, and Jean Forde. http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media/

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