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ST. THOMAS Members of the Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs and Culture, chaired by Sen. Myron D. Jackson, met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to consider measures regarding Virgin Islands Freedom Week, Tavern Keeper liquor licenses, and overtime pay.

Bill No. 32-0040, an Act that commemorates June 26th to July 3rd as Virgin Islands Freedom Week, requires public and private employers to pay time and one half for work done on July 3rd. The measure also seeks to implement educational events to acknowlege and respect the significance of July 3rd in Virgin Islands history.

Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina, Director of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center at UVI, had her testimony read into the record in support of the measure stating, “Even amidst adversity, pain, controversy and institutional remnants of colonization, the people, history, cultural heritage and spirit of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands ascends with endurance, revolutionary strength, resilience and dignity.” Bill No. 32-0040, sponsored by Sen. Positive T. Nelson, was favorably passed to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary as amended.

Bill No. 32-0012, an Act that seeks to amend the Virgin Islands Code, repeal Section 570b of the Virgin Islands Code and requires the Director of Personnel to establish a Recruitment & Retention Program and incentive packages for police, correction officers, registered nurses and teachers. Milton Potter, Director of the Division of Personnel, insisted that a series of discussions with all stakeholders should take place before approving the bill. Director Potter also suggested that upgrading pertinent salary scales for critical positions if funding is available would provide incentive for incoming candidates while reducing the percentage of tenured employees leaving the workforce.

Consent Decree mandates within the Virgin Islands Police Department and Bureau of Corrections continue to be a challenge as they strive to address their staffing concerns due to a reduction of overtime and competitive salaries offered abroad. The measure was sponsored by Sen. Novelle Francis Jr., and held in Committee until funding sources can be identified and the language in the bill clarified.

Bill No. 32-0039, an Act amending the amount of Tavern Keeper Liquor Licenses that can be in effect within the historic districts of the Virgin Islands. Sponsored by Sen. Jean Forde, the Bill amends the VI Code, allowing the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs to determine the maximum number allowed in a district and conduct public hearings before any licenses are issued. The measure passed favorably to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consdieration.

Bill No. 32-0052, a Resolution honoring Allen Haynes, Sr. for his contributions to the community as a police officer and a healer. Several testimonies were given by clients and family in support of Mr. Haynes and his work throughout the community over the past 45 years. The Resolution, sponsored by Sen. Marvin Blyden, passed favorably to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

During the final remarks of the meeting, Senate President Myron D. Jackson thanked the testifiers, staff and his colleagues for their continued support. “It is an honor to recognize the talents of the members of our community in our Centennial year.” Sen. Jackson concluded.