Category: Legislative Session

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

Senate to Meet Wednesday in Regular Session

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ST. THOMAS–Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. will convene the 33rdLegislature into regular session on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 to receive testimony relating to Bill No.33-0072. Representatives of the territory’s hospitals, federally qualified health centers, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Water and Power Authorityhave been invited to attend. Bill No.33-0072,seeks to appropriate$39,467,909 that was awarded to the Virgin Islands Medical Assistance Program(MAP)as theresult of a multi-year account reconciliationof several of the territory’shealthcare agencies. It seeks to redistribute the funds to meetcritical operating needsof various governmental agencies.The agencies that are scheduled to testify at Wednesday’sSession are:the Department of Health; Schneider Regional Medical Center; Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center; Frederiksted Health Care, Inc., and the St. Thomas East End Medical Center.The Legislative Session is scheduled to convene at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall and will be broadcast live on LEGIT Television Cable Channel 26, WVSE 91.9 FM, https://livestream.com/legittv/and also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature/.

Majority Caucus to Host Press Conference

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ST. THOMAS—Senate Majority Leader Marvin A. Blyden announced today that the 33rd Legislature’s Majority Caucus will host a press conference on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 5 p.m., following the adjournment of Legislative Session.
The press conference will provide information to the public regarding the reorganization of the 33rd Legislature, to include the restructuring and composition of its standing committees.
Wednesday’s press conference will broadcast live on LEGIT Television Channel 26 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USVILegislature.

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SENATORS WEIGH IN ON GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS

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St. Croix—Senate President Kenneth L. Gittens on Monday, January 28, 2019, reconvened the Body into Legislative session, after recessing on January 14, 2019 during the organization of the 33rd Legislature.  Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. requested of the Body, that additional time be granted, and the Legislature acquiesced and reconvened at 7:00 p.m. that evening.

Governor Bryan, in his first Territorial address, was praised by senators for the message of hopefulness.  Senate President Gittens, a former police officer, said he was pleased that issues of crime were mentioned, but stated that more details on the rebuilding of the territory would have been greatly appreciated.

The governor declared that the state of the territory was “in distress.”  He further indicated that he and his team have been analyzing the critical areas in the government which needed improvement, as well as those areas that are working well and need to be expanded upon.

Senate Vice President Donna Frett-Gregory and Chairwoman of the Finance Committee said that she was elated with the speech. She added, “We are at the juncture where we must talk about one Virgin Islands and how we make these things happen as a people and not as individuals.”

Senate Secretary and Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, Senator Alicia Barnes said the speech was transparent, realistic and gave a true fiscal picture of the state of the territory.

Senate Majority Leader Marvin A. Blyden, who also serves as Chairman of the Committee on Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure and Telecommunications, said he was pleased that the Governor addressed the untapped marine sector industry and the bevy of jobs that can be realized.

Senator Allison DeGazon, Chairwoman on the Committee of Economic Development & Agriculture said, one of the important areas of the address in her opinion, was the STEAM Program and the fact that agriculture was included. The Senator further indicated that she was pleased that the Governor recognized agriculture and its economic potential to the territory.

In referring to the STEAM Program, the Governor indicated, “Our focus will be on STEAM for our Economy, Service, Technology, Energy, Agriculture, and Manufacturing.”

Senator-At-Large and Chairman on the Committee of Homeland Security, Justice & Public Safety, Steven Payne, Sr. said he was delighted that the governor said he will focus on young people and ensuring opportunities are available to avert them from crime.

Senator Myron Jackson, Chairman of the Committee on Culture and Planning indicated that he would like to see the approach that will be used in moving the Virgin Islands forward and the identification of the administration’s economic, social, health, education, and cultural priorities.

Senator Novelle Francis, Jr. stated he was happy with the Governor’s goal to create a team work environment among the different branches of government.

Senator Kurt Vialet said although the speech covered several infrastructure and economic issues, it didn’t offer much in the way of solutions. Nevertheless, he liked what the governor said about ensuring that individuals in key positions work to execute laws and carry out the mandates that are in place.

Senator Athneil “Bobby” Thomas said he was delighted with the speech. Thomas who serve as the Chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, Consumers, & Veterans Affair, said what impressed him most was that the Governor gave a balanced vision as to where he wants us to be.

Senator Javan James, Chairman of the Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks and recreation said he hopes the administration will take a long view on C-Tech programs because this is the time of the new generation.

Senator Oakland Benta, Chairman of the Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services said he was encouraged when the governor spoke of pursuing a health strategy that not only captures the needs of our people but allows for the expansion of our capabilities as the economy grows. He added that what really captured his attention was when the governor said, “We will be sending legislation to unify our hospital system finally.”

The Chairman of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development, Senator Stedmann Hodge, Jr. said he was impressed when the Governor indicated, “the prevalence of crime was not the root of our problems but rather it was the bitter fruit of entrenched social and economic woes that have plagued our community for generations.”

Senator Dwayne DeGraff said while he remains optimistic, the speech should have focused on how he intends to accomplish these issues.

Absent was Senator Janelle K. Sarauw who was off island due to a death in her family.

 

 

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Senators Approves Bills and Resolutions

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St. Thomas–The 32nd Legislature Chaired by Senate President Myron D. Jackson held its last Legislative Session on Friday, December 28, 2018, in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall, St. Thomas. The Session included the consideration of several lease agreements; consideration of a Quitclaim Deed, many committees approved legislation, Special Orders, and a Bill establishing “The Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act.”

In light of the magnitude of the day’s agenda, the Body established four voting blocks and in the first block senators gave favorable consideration to the following:

Bill No. 32-0336 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and Marco St. Croix, Inc.

Bill No. 32-0338 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands Department of Property and THAW, LLC d/b/a # 1 Gopher.

Bill No. 32-0340 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Property and Procurement, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Grantley Samuel.

Bill No. 32-0342 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Property and Procurement, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Louis Orta.

Bill No. 32-0343 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Property and Procurement, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Philippe Philbert.

Bill No. 32-0346 – An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Property and Procurement on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, and Andrea Montoute and Claritta Montoute.

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In the second block, the following Bills were also approved and forwarded to the Governor for his review and approval:

Bill No.32- 0347-An Act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, Department of Property and Procurement on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Jerome Bryan’s consideration of a QUITCLAIM DEED.

Bill No. 32-0341 – An Act approving the proposed sale of unit No. 3012, Building L in a group of buildings known as Cowpet Beach Resort, located on Parcels No. 8-1-11 Estate Nazareth, No. 1 Red Hook, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Bill No. 32-0327 – An Act benefiting especially Senior Citizens of the Virgin Islands by enacting the Uniform Non-Probate Transfer Act; the Uniform Transfer on Death Act; the Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interest Act; the Uniform Custodial Trust Act; and the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. This Bill was amended in several parts by Sen. Jackson.

Bill No. 32-0241 – An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code relating to the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Plan and the Virgin Islands Territorial Management and Homeland Security Council.” This Bill was amended by Sen. Dwayne DeGraff.

Bill No. 32-0247 – “An Act amending Titles 3,5,14,15,16,19,23 27, and 34 to change all references to mental health to behavioral health; amending Title 19, Chapter 31, Section 7 I 6(A) relating to the Citizens Council on Mental Illness Alcoholism and Drug Dependency; repealing Section 14 of Act No. 7897 and Section 2, paragraph (I) of Act No. 7697; appropriating $3,000,000 for the establishment of a behavioral health care facility on the island of St. Croix; and establishing requirements for the operation of in-patient and out-patient treatment programs at the behavioral health care facility.”

 

Bill No. 32-0256 –An Act seeking to amend the Virgin Islands Code by enacting the Finance Lenders Law. This Bill was amended by Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly.

 

Bill No. 32-0308 – An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code and adding several sections to establish the Division of Festivals within the Department of Tourism whose function is organizing and executing festivals and to re-establish the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute, within the Department of Tourism and to re-name the “Carnival and Festival Committee Revolving Fund” as the “Division of Festivals Revolving Fund.”

 

The third block of Bills that were considered and approved were:

 

Bill No. 32-0204 – “An act amending Title 12 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 16A, Section 691a by re-defining the term “government agency” and by defining the term “communications provider”, and section 698a regarding the construction of conduits by government agencies in the public rights-of-way and for other related purposes.” This Bill was amended by Sen. Rivera-O’Reilly.

 

Bill No. 32-0229An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, requiring the Government of the Virgin Islands to enter into contracts before June 1st of each year in preparedness for hurricane season or any emergency or major disaster.”

 

Bill No. 32-0062An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, by adding a Chapter establishing the Community and Heritage Tree Law of the Virgin Islands.

 

Bill No. 32-0345 – An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code relating to physician licensure and applicant qualifications. This Bill was amended by Sen. Rivera-O’Reilly.

 

Bill No. 32-0328An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 15 relating to scholarship programs to provide financial aid for tuition to residents of the Virgin Islands for post-secondary education at the University of the Virgin Islands. The legislation was amended by the primary-sponsor, Sen. Tregenza Roach.

 

Bill No. 32-0349 – A Resolution honoring and commending the Voices of Love Choir for its forty years of performance for various segments of the community. This

 

Bill No. 32-0298 – A Resolution posthumously honoring and commending Guilderoy Ashley Sprauve, Sr. for his extensive work as a diesel mechanic for the major ferryboats on St. John, St. Thomas, and Tortola, B.V.I., and for his service and contributions to the marine industry.

 

Bill No. 32-0315 – An Act honoring and commending Noel “Breeze” Boynes, Sr. for his service to his community of St. John and renaming Route 104 South (a/k/a) the South side Road in St. John in his honor.

 

Bill No. 32-0350 – An Act ratifying and approving the Agreement for Medical Health Insurance made and entered into by and between the Government of the Virgin Islands through the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees, the University of the Virgin Islands, and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and United Healthcare Insurance Company and its affiliates. All of the outlined Bills were approved and forwarded to the Governor for final consideration.

 

The Body also special ordered and overrode the Governor’s veto of Bill 32-0325, which is an Act authorizing the Judicial Branch to reprogram prior year encumbered funds for use during FY 2019 and to utilize any accumulated residual funds for more critical priorities.

 

A motion was then made to override certain sections of Act 8063, specifically sections 8 and 13.  The motion was unanimously approved by all senators present during Friday’s Senate Session.

 

Bill 32-0236 which seeks to limit the practice of dental therapy to public health facilities was also passed by lawmakers.

 

The much talked about Bill 32-0135- which was generated from a referendum,  seeks to establish, “The Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act” as relates to the Medical Use and Regulation of Cannabis. The Legislation was considered by the Body and after much deliberation, the Bill received a favorable  vote by a majority of senators in attendance and was forwarded to the Governor for final review.

 

Bill 32-0344-An Act appropriating $380,000 to the Virgin Islands Elections System for the cost associated with the November 20, 2018 run-off election was approved by the Body.

 

Bill 32-0351- An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code, title 12A, by adding chapter 9 to enact the Timeshare Resale Act, was also approved.

 

Pages for Friday’s Legislative Session were: Vernisha Hodge and Mauricio Francis from the Seventh-day Adventist School.

 

Senators in attendance at Friday’s Legislative Session were; Chairman, President Myron D. Jackson, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Jean A. Forde, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Positive T. Nelson, Neville A. James, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Tregenza A. Roach, Sammuel Sanes, Kurt A. Vialet, Brian A. Smith, Marvin Blyden and Janelle Sarauw.

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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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 AS IT RELATES TO APPRENTICESHIP STANDARDS MOVES FORWARD DURING DAY TWO OF LEGISLATIVE SESSION

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the 32nd Legislature, chaired by Senate President Myron Jackson, convened in day two of Legislative Session at the Capitol Building on Friday, to vote and approve the remaining measures on the agenda including Bill 32-0179-An Act amending Title 24, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Sections 221, 228 and 230 as it relates to the apprenticeship standards.

During debate time, senators discussed Amendment No. 32-729 to Bill No. 32. 0179. The amendment states that for the sum of $125,000 is appropriated in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2018, from the General Fund to the Election System to fund the 2018 primary elections. “Why are we using taxpayer’s monies for what is a Democratic Party primary election?” asked Sen. Positive Nelson. “The Democratic Party is established enough to fund their convention. The Board of Elections should do their job with integrity.”

However, Sen. Neville James said, “I would prefer that the monies are used to grow the Independent Party. That will create a competition that is healthy. What we want is an independent entity that the Board of elections can conduct the primaries. This is how the Democratic Party funds their primaries nationwide.” Ultimately, senators voted in favor of this amendment.

Lawmakers also debated Amendment No. 32-718 to Bill No. 32- 0179 for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands shall return any money taken from the salaries of employees of the Legislature pursuant to section 4 of Act 7261. “I am asking for mercy on behalf of the employees. The monies did not assist with the economic use of the Virgin Islands instead it went somewhere else. They are hurting and they need their money too. I circulated an opinion from the Legal Counsel and it states, “Failure to remit the 8% of its employee’s salaries to the General Fund,” debated Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen.

In opposition, Sen. Jean Forde stated that we are all in favor of paying employees adequate salary. “I believe there is a proper way to do things. We haven’t done research to promise you monies for the increase 30 days after the law is enacted. Let us make sure we have the monies to do it.” Ultimately, lawmakers voted it down and the amendment failed.

Separately, senators shared their remarks on the bill. Sen. Tregenza Roach expressed his support for Bill No. 32-0179 as it relates to the apprenticeship standards. “In the absence of career and technical training, it is good for young people to receive on hands training in technical professions.”

Similarly, Sen. Marvin Blyden stated that Bill No. 32-0179 Mandates the V.I. Department of Labor (VIDOL) to assist individuals to get jobs, it also requires VIDOL to conduct an annual analysis of the job market and to share it with the Board of Education and other entities. The bill requires VIDOL to follow job market trends which are used to tailor and groom young people for these professional areas.

Policymakers also expressed their sentiments on additional bills on the agenda.

Referring to Bill No. 32-0226- A Resolution encouraging the people of the Virgin Islands to observe July 22nd as a remembrance of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and as a supplication for protection during the 2018 Hurricane Season; Sen. Positive Nelson said, “I am wondering why July 22nd was selected as a day of observance. I don’t know the importance of that date. People should be grateful and appreciative of life after experiencing two hurricanes. Do you need a law to tell you that?”

Sponsor of the Bill, Sen. Jackson expounded on the measure. “In reviewing the law as it relates to observing a hurricane, eventually it was removed as a paid holiday in the government. The selected date of June 22nd was the original day now recognized in the third week in June. With the removal of the paid holiday, the revised the law states that the following Sunday from the original date is the new date of observance.”

Separately, Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen stated that she does not support Bill No. 32-0212 to allow for the pronouncement of death by registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. “There is another aspect about this bill that not covered; and its liability. If a nurse or physician wrongfully or untimely pronounced someone’s death that creates a liability for the special homes or hospice. A doctor should only pronounce time of death. That liability should not be on nurses.”

However, Sen. Francis stated that the bill was vetted and expressed his support. “Initially, I had my reservations with this bill. It is critical, and we should be mindful that when we have a death situation, people wait hours for morgue to arrive to the facility and make a proper announcement. Nurses and physicians should be authorized to do this for people who are in hospice care facilities and are facing terminal illness.”

Similarly, Sen. Jackson said, “Bill No. 32-0212 provides a means that when relative decided to send a family member to a facility for terminal illness, it allows for a peaceful transition for the patient. Physicians of that facility should have the ability to pronounce their death. Some states implemented this measure already.”

Lawmakers voted and approved the following:

 

  • Bill No. 30-0179- An Act amending Title 24, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Sections 221, 228 and 230 relating to the apprenticeship standards as amended

 

  • Bill No. 32-0177-An Act amending Title 27, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter I, Subchapter IV, Section 97(a) relating to renewal of nursing licenses

 

  • Bill No. 32-0197- An Act amending Title 19 Virgin Islands Code by adding a new chapter 68 entitled “Animal Shelters providing a minimum standard of care for sheltered animals

 

  • Bill No. 32-0212- An Act amending Title 19 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 37, Subchapter III, adding Section 870 to allow for the pronouncement of death by registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners

 

  • Bill No. 0226- A Resolution encouraging the people of Virgin Islands to observe July 22, 2018 as a remembrance of the devastation and human suffering caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria and as supplication for protection during the 2018 hurricane season

 

  • 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. 32-0227-A Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 4A, subsection 202, subsection (b) changing the amount of years, from two to four years, that five of the seven board members of the Virgin Islands Board of Licensed Counselors and Examiners are to be appointed

 

  • Bill No. 32-0228- An Act amending Title 19, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 16, section 245a relating to the Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation’s competitive bidding process to require advertisement for bids to be published through electronic media or in the newspapers of general circulation, and to make technical amendments

 

  • Bill No. 32-0229- An Act amending Title 23, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10 Subchapter 1, section 1004 requiring the Government of the Virgin Islands to enter into contracts before June 1st of each year in preparedness for hurricane season or any emergency or major disaster

 

All bills approved will be forwarded to the Governor for further consideration.

Senators present are Myron Jackson, Positive Nelson, Tregenza Roach, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, Janette Millin Young, Janelle Sarauw, Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, Brian Smith, Marvin Blyden, Novelle Francis, Jean Forde, Neville James, Kurt Vialet and Sammuel Sanes.

Photo: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media                                                                        ###

OVERIDES, A RESOLUTION, COASTAL ZONE PERMITS 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 Thursday, to vote on items on the agenda to include overrides, a resolution, coastal zone permits/requests, and bills. All measures approved will be forwarded to the governor for further consideration.

Lawmakers voted favorably for the override of three bills vetoed by Governor Kenneth Mapp. As a result, enacted into law is the following: Bill No. 32-0002 to authorize the V.I. Government to purchase the Estate Catherineberg from WICO and for other purposes; Bill No. 32-0175 to grant the Economic Development Commission more autonomy; and Bill No. 32-0024 to provide for the position of Curator and to establish the Preservation of Historic Government Collections Act and other purposes.

Senators also voted and approved Bill No. 32-0170- A Resolution honoring and commending Lorna Lenise Freeman for her outstanding charitable performances to the community and her many contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands and for being a true ambassadress of the Virgin Islands.

“It is no question that those who have known Lorna has acknowledged that she was born with a gift. She is a human instrument. The early years of her church engagement was instrumental in who she is as a woman and songstress,” said Sen. Jackson “It is unfortunate that many times in our community, we tend to overlook what is required to become a professional and to live that gift. Lorna has lived like that over the years and as a result, never dropped her standards. We honor you as one of our national treasures.”

Sen. Nereida River O’Reilly “I am increasingly impressed with her voice each time she sings. It is an honor to support this resolution because Lorna is truly a national treasure.”

Separately, policymakers shared their remarks for the zoning requests. Sen. Dwayne DeGraff said, “I rise in support of these bills. There are issues in which DPNR did not support some of the zoning requests for various reasons. However, recommendations were m, and now it is being followed through.”

Sen. Janette Millin Young stated that people are always inquiring about the Senate passing measures to improve the economy. When in fact supporting zoning requests like these in which residents want to be entrepreneurs is one way of achieving that task.

Sen. Jackson said, “The zonings before us speaks to economic development. Local Virgin Islanders who desire to go out and start a business. The issue of zoning which includes the land and water use plan, we can’t continue to kick down the road. These islands are beautiful, but we still must ensure that we maintain their beauty.

Senators voted and approved the following:

  • Bill No. 32-0200-An Act granting the variance for Plot No. 17 of Parcel No. 2 Estate Concordia. West End Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to allow for a retail clothing store and a bakery

 

  • Bill No. 32-0217-An Act Rezoning Plot No. 56 of Parcel No. 67 of Estate Mount Welcome. Estate End Quarter ‘A’ St. Croix from R-2 (Residential-Low Density -One and Two Family) to R-3 (Residential-Medium Density)

 

  • Bill No. 32-0219- An Act to amend Official Zoning Map SCZ-6 to allow for the rezoning of Plot No. 10-Dl Estate Constitution Hill, Queen’s Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands for R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to R-2 (Residential-Low-Density-One and Two Family)

 

  • Bill No. 32-0222- An Act granting a zoning use variance for Plot No. 2 AF Estate Upper Love, Prince Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to allow a guest house to be used as a bed and breakfast business

 

  • Bill No. 32-0223- An Act amending Official Zoning Map SCZ-12 by rezoning Plot No. 1-C Estate Clifton Hill, King Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, from C(Commercial, to B-2 (Business- Secondary/Neighborhood)

 

  • Bill No. 32-0055 – An Act providing for the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works to replace public parking signs that refer to “Handicap Parking”, making an appropriation from the Transportation Trust Fund for replacement of parking signs and for other related purposes

 

  • Bill No, 32-0064 – An Act amending Title 3 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 24, Section 431 providing for the establishment of a registry for persons 60 years and older with disabilities living alone

 

  • Bill No. 32-0129 – An Act amending Title 14 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 3A relating to human trafficking to enact the Virgin Islands Uniform Prevention of and Remedies of Human Trafficking Act and amend Title 5, Chapter 303, Section 3541 relating to the statute of limitations for prosecuting the crime of Human Trafficking

 

  • Bill No. 32-0146 – An Act honoring and commending Irvin “Brownie” Brown, Sr., for his significant contributions to the culture and music of the Virgin Islands by renaming the portion of General Gade, which runs from the intersection of Veterans Drive up to the intersection of Silke Gade “The Irvin “Brownie” Brown, Sr. Road

 

  • Bill No. 32-0148 – An Act amending Title 1, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 11 by adding section 200i establishing the Month of May as Virgin Islands Stroke Awareness Month

 

  • Bill No. 32-0179 – An Act amending Title 24, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Sections 221, 228 and 230, relating to the apprenticeship standards

Senators present are Myron Jackson, Positive Nelson, Tregenza Roach, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, Janette Millin Young, Janelle Sarauw, Dwayne DeGraff, Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, Brian Smith, Marvin Blyden, Novelle Francis, Jean Forde, Neville James, Kurt Vialet and Sammuel Sanes

Photo: http://www.legvi.org/committeemeetings/Media                                                                        ###

LAWMAKERS APPROVE NOMINEES, CZM AND ZONING REQUESTS DURING LEGISLATIVE SESSION

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ST. THOMAS– On Wednesday, Members of the 32nd Legislature, convened in Legislative Session at the Capitol Building. Led by Senate President Myron Jackson, the Body considered zoning requests, CZM permits and several measures.

The meeting began with the consideration of the following Nominees:

  • Nelson Petty, Jr.– Commissioner, Dept. of Public Works
  • Elizabeth Armstrong (Reappointment)– Member, WAPA Authority Board (STX)
  • Stacy Bourne– Member, VI Casino Control Commission (STT/STJ)
  • Hubert Turnbull– Member, WAPA Authority Board (STT/STJ)
  • Julio Rhymer, Sr.– Director, Office of Management & Budget (OMB)
  • John A. Quelch– Member, University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees (STX)
  • Dina Perry-Malone– Member, VI Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (STT/STJ)

All Nominees were approved, however, Senators shared their concerns regarding their nominations and current issues in their respective agencies. “Our margin for error is minute,” Sen. DeGraff expressed. After thanking the Body, Nelson Petty, Jr., updated the Body on the status of Capital projects in the territory. “My focus has been on our capital projects and I am pleased to report three projects on St. Croix currently in the procurement phase and on St. Thomas, preconstruction began yesterday with the Veterans Drive project”.

The second block of the meeting considered the following Coastal Zone Management Permits and Zoning requests:

  • Bill No. 32-0153 – An Act ratifying the Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ-20-11W issued to David McDaniel and Cheryl McDaniel. The permit was approved by the Full Body and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0154 – An Act ratifying Major Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-2-16 (L&W) issued to DUN RUN GOLF, LLC, for the continued use and occupancy of the existing reverse osmosis plant with 12” diameter, 140 feet intake line and 12-inch, 650 feet long outfall line located at Plot No. C-2-Q Estate Lovenlund, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The permit was approved by the Full Body and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0142 – An Act to rezone Parcel No. 13AA Estate Contant, No. 2 Cruz Bay Quarter St. John from R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two Family) to R-4 (Residential-Medium Density). The zoning request was approved and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0181 – An Act granting a zoning use variance for Parcel No. 171 Estate Contant-Enighed, Cruz Bay, St. John Virgin Islands, to allow for the operation of a car rental business. The zoning request was passed and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0182 – An Act to rezone Parcel No. 4-A Estate Cruz Bay Town, Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John, from B-3 (Business-Scattered) to B2 (Business-Secondary/Neighborhood). The zoning request was approved as adapted and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0187 – An Act rezoning Parcel No. 6D Estate Thomas, New Quarter, St. Thomas from R-3 (Residential-Medium Density) to B-2 (Business-Secondary Neighborhood) and from the B-2 zoning designation granting a use variance. The zoning request passed in its original format and forwarded to the Governor.

“We make a way for the big businesses, but not for the small players. We need to show them that we are sensitive to the small businesses, families,  and individuals trying to establish wealth,” stated Non-Majority Leader, Sen. Positive T.A. Nelson. Similar comments were expressed by the members of the Body after two zoning requests were removed from the agenda during the 2nd block.

 

The following bills were considered after press time:

 

  • Bill No. 32-0168–An Act amending Title 22 VI Code, Chapter 39, designating current sections 951 through 983 subchapterI, Section 984 as Subchapter II, and by adding a subchapter III entitled, “The Standard Forfeiture Law of 2018 for Life Insurance,” which meets the accreditation in its model laws and updates the insurance laws of the Virgin Islands of the United States placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions thereby affording greater and more effective protection to the policyholders in the Virgin Islands. Sponsored by Sen. Kurt Vialet, the measure was approved and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0065–An Act to appropriate the sum of $500,000 to the Economic Development Authority for “energy efficient” retrofitting of the Industrial Park on the island of St. Croix. Sponsored by Sen. Neville James, the measure was approved and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0178–A Resolution to honor to commend the ALL HANDS and HEART-SMART RESPONSE. Proposed by Sen. Jean Forde, the measure was approved and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0188–An Act appropriating $3,500,000 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for maintenance dredging of the Schooner Bay Channel. The measure, sponsored by Senators Kurt Vialetand Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, was approved and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0147–An Act amending Title 27 VI Code, Chapter 1, Subchapter I relating to the special restricted licensing of physicians and subchapter II (a) relating to the practice of telemedicine; amending Title 19, Chapter 15, relating to the licensing, inspection and regulation of healthcare facilities and health services; and amending Title 33, Chapter 3, relating to exemptions from the payment of gross receipts on all Medicaid and Medicare payments. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, was approved as amended and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0175–An Act amending Title 29 VI Code, Chapter 12 to strengthen the Economic Development Commission. Sponsored by Sen. Kurt Vialet, the measure was approved as amended and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0189–An Act amending Title 18 VI Code to reprogram the appropriation of Act No. 7904 to conduct the 2018 primaries and makes the appropriation available until expended. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jean Forde, was approved as amended and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0059–An Act to amend Title 29 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 9 relating to regulation of billboards. This bill enlarges the definition of “advertising device and bans the use of changeable 6 electronic variable message signs, digital billboards or smartboards that have animation, movement, or the appearance or optical illusion of movement. Sponsored by Sen. Myron Jackson, the measure was approved by the Full Body and forwarded to the Governor.

 

  • Bill No. 32-0024–An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 1, section 1 to provide for the position of Curator and amending title 31 Virgin Islands Code to add a chapter 42 establishing the Preservation of Historic Government Collections Act and for other purposes. Sponsored by Senate President Myron Jackson, the measure was approved as amended by the Full Body and forwarded to the Governor.

 

The Bills can be accessed in their entirety on our website via Bill Tracker module: http://legvi.org:82/

 

 

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