St. Thomas – Members of the 32nd Legislature, held a Majority Caucus led by the Majority Leader Neville James, during a Press Conference held on Thursday, at the Capitol Building to share post-hurricane initiatives and to formerly welcome Senator Janelle K. Sarauw from the St. Thomas-St. John District as one of their members.
“We are coming before our constituents to share where we are and where we are going and where we want to be,” said Sen. James. “It has been a pleasure working with the members of the majority for 2017. Last year was historic for the wrong reasons. Notwithstanding the adverse impact of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria to the U.S. Virgin Islands, we continued to work.”
Senate President Myron Jackson said, “The Legislature of the Virgin Islands was prepared before the storms and engaged actively with government entities during the post-hurricane recovery process.”
Some of the initiatives included opening the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to be accessible to Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that provided hurricane relief services to the Virgin Islands residents. Lawmakers also held Public Hearings in regards to health and environmental concerns of tree burning and disposing of debris. Senators partnered with government agencies and the private sector to distribute hurricane relief supplies. Members of the Legislature also partnered with the Government of Denmark who allocated $2.3 million specifically for recovery efforts. Senators also discussed rebuilding roads and infrastructures, modular schools and hospitals, advocating Congress to waive Medicaid fees and the need for more emergency housing units.
Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly stated that despite no longer having a Legislative Building on St. Croix due to post-hurricane damages, senators continued to work on behalf of the people. “We transitioned from Legislators to advocates. Senators worked out of their cars, libraries or wherever a hotspot was available because we knew that the people wanted to know where were their elected officials and how were they helping the Territory.”
Separately, the Majority introduced Senator Janelle K. Sarauw from the St. Thomas-St. John District as a member of the Majority Caucus. “I am happy to be a member of the Majority Caucus. I look forward to working with my fellow members to rebuild the Territory after two hurricanes,” said Sen. Sarauw.
Senators present are Jean Forde, Brian Smith, Marvin Blyden, Kurt Vialet, Novelle Francis, Marvin Blyden, Neville James, Myron Jackson, Sammuel Sanes, Nereida River O’Reilly and Janelle Sarauw. ###