ST. THOMAS – Members of the 32nd Legislature hosted a Senior Citizens Mock Session Capitol Building on Tuesday, to vote and approve Bill No. 32-0000 as it relates to the Senior Citizens Bill of Rights.
“It is a tremendous honor to deal with legislation that will improve the life of seniors in the Territory,” said Senate President Myron Jackson. “According to the U.S. Census 2010 there are approximately 14,000 seniors residing in the Territory. This theme encourages seniors to address top priorities that are affecting them in the Territory,” he added.
Maurice Sebastian, who was representing Sen. Jackson, said, “This is an excellent idea to establish a Senior Citizens Bill of Rights. What will happen if we lose funding? We need to educate the younger generation on the importance of our gems of elders in the community. The message has to get across to the youths so that they can play their role in taking care of the elderly.”
Similarly, Charlita Schuster who was representing Sen. Positive Nelson said, “We need to maintain a strategy that will encourage the younger generation to care for the elderly. This is important especially if federal funding is cut.”
Separately, Maria Santiago Feliciano who was representing Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen said, “There are two crucial issues that are not on the bill. They are the Pharmaceutical Assistant Program and the Senior Citizens ID Card. I am doing a special amendment to add this to the bill.”
“One thing that must be made clear, the Real ID does not replace the Senior Citizens ID Card,” said Alphonse Stalliard, who was representing Sen. Neville James. He continued, “The funds that the Virgin Islands has must be used for maximum efficiency. Whether the funds are federal or local. We also need to address providing appropriate medical services for those who suffer with a mental health condition.”
Angelita Jemmings who was representing Sen. Tregenza Roach said, “This bill is dependent upon President Donald Trump. To my knowledge programs are funded 80/20. If President Trump decided to cut funding for the senior citizen programs, where is the 80% going to come from? If that happens, how will the senior citizen program thrive?”
“We must get creative and think outside of the box,” said Lydia Hendricks, who was representing Sen. Marvin Blyden. She continued, “For example, we need to consider having a satellite kitchen in which meals can be prepared and delivered to all seniors. We must stop harping on funds that could be potentially cut and focus on the monies that we have and how we can utilize it more efficiently.”
Ultimately, lawmakers voted unanimously Bill No. 32-0000 as amended. It will be forwarded to the Governor for further consideration.