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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Sen. Janelle Sarauw, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, and voted favorably for the nominations of Dr. Brian Bacot to be a Member of the Board of Medical Examiners District of St. Thomas-St. John and Rupert Ross to be the Director of the Bureau of Information Technology (BIT). The nominations were sent to the Legislature by Governor Albert Bryan; set forth from Section (16) of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and Title 3, Section 65a of the Virgin Islands Code. Lawmakers also voted and approved several bills. All items approved will be forwarded to the Committee of the Whole for further consideration.

Bacot stated that his main goal is to support best practices for the licensure and certification process at the Board of Medical Examiners. “As we all can agree physicians are a highly sought after and necessary resource for a healthy community, and every effort should be made to provide an appropriate environment for growth, development, and healing for these physicians so as not to lose these resources when they are challenged.” Bacot’s noted that his short-term goals are to “identify and review current known” issues relating to service delivery, facilities, and financial shortfalls.  Streamlining the application process, ensuring compliance of physicians with Board policies, and updating and implementing the policies for the V.I. Medical Licensure is some of Bacot’s long-term goals.

Similarly, Ross indicated that one of the major challenges at BIT is upgrading cybersecurity. It is necessary to establish guidelines with an enterprise-level security structure to prevent and address cyberattacks. Ross said, “There is an immediate need to establish baseline cybersecurity standards for governmental agencies that address governance, budget and resource requirements, security frameworks, data protection, training and awareness, insider threats, and third-party security practices.” Ross mentioned that his goals are to collaborate with agencies and to execute protective strategies to better utilize taxpayers funding by building a strong IT System for the Government of the Virgin Islands.

Separately, lawmakers received testimony, voted, and approved Bill No. 33-0011- An Act amending Title 14 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 60, section 1191 relating to strengthening the loitering law and increasing the penalty for loitering. The Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George stated that the Department supports the measure despite the challenges of prosecuting perpetrators accused of loitering. “I will like to reiterate that loitering laws have become more difficult to prosecute. Only those statues that have been carefully worded have survived judicial scrutiny and even some of those statues were held invalid.” The Office of the Territorial Public Defender Chief Public Defender Samuel Joseph indicated that presently the language of the measure is vague and can pose as a constitutional challenge if an individual’s fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution is violated.

Policymakers voted with a favorable recommendation for the following measures:

  • Bill No. 33-0082- An Act honoring and commending Robert O’Connor, Jr. for his commitment to the people of the Virgin Islands through his service as a Senator, his membership on the Port Authority Board and his work as a community leader by naming the new Port Authority maintenance building in his honor.
  • Bill No. 3-0020- A Resolution honoring and commending Tishelle Knight for her accomplishment, service and musical contributions to the Virgin Islands.
  • Bill No. 33-0060- A Resolution posthumously honoring and commending Alvin “Alli” Paul for his contribution to the culture of the Virgin Islands, through the Mocko Jumbie artform.
  • Bill No. 33-0040- An Act amending title 20, Part II, chapter 41, section 466, subsection (b) of the Virgin Islands Code to require each passenger in the rear seat of a vehicle to wear a safety belt.
  • Bill No. 33-0086- An Act amending title 19 of the VIC by inserting a new chapter 52, section 1350 requiring all restaurants and establishments that sell food to post signs that demonstrate appropriate first aid for choking.
  • Bill No. 33-0092- An Act amending title 4, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a new section 7 to provide for the continuing operation of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands in the event of a natural disaster or other emergencies.                                                                                                          ###