Tag: Kurt A. Vialet

Committee on Finance

Chair: Senator Kurt Vialet
Vice-Chair: Senator Marvin A. Blyden

Location: Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Agenda
The Committee on Finance has scheduled a budget hearing to receive testimony from the
following departments and agencies on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget appropriations.

9:00 A.M. VIRGIN ISLANDS PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD
VIRGIN ISLANDS LABOR MANAGEMENT

Invited Testifiers: Ms. Pierina Jacobs-Feldman
Chairperson

Mr. Aubrey A. Lee
Executive Director

12:00 P.M. LUNCH

1:00 P.M. OFFICE OF VETERAN’S AFFAIRS

Invited Testifier: Mr. Patrick D. Farrell
Director

Committee on Finance

Chair: Senator Kurt Vialet
Vice-Chair: Senator Marvin A. Blyden

Location: Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room
St. Croix, Virgin Islands

Agenda
The Committee on Finance has scheduled a budget hearing to receive testimony from the
following departments and agencies on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget appropriations.

 

9:00 A.M. DEPARTMENT OF PROPERTY & PROCUREMENT

Invited Testifier: Honorable Lloyd Bough
Commissioner

12:00 P.M. LUNCH

1:00 P.M. BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE

Invited Testifier: Honorable Marvin L. Pickering, EA, PHR, ATA, ATP
Director

3:00 P.M. VIRGIN ISLANDS TAXICAB COMMISSION

Invited Testifier: Mr. Levron Sarauw
Executive Director

LAWMAKERS CONSIDER BILL TO REQUIRE CREDIT UNIONS IN THE TERRITORY TO BE FEDERALLY CHARTERED

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dsc_3831ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Sen. Clifford Graham, held a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, to receive testimony on several bills including Bill No. 31-0369; as it relates to the establishment of credit unions and for their oversight.
Gwendolyn Hall Brady, Division Director for the Division of Banking and Insurance said, “Our safest course of action is to require all credit unions be federally chartered and come within preview of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).”
Some of the responsibilities of the NCUA are the issuance of interpretative rulings, financial performance reports, legal opinion letters, strict rules and regulations, reviews every three years, and the ability to examine chartered credit unions and issue Administrative Orders when it finds that a credit union or persons affiliated with credit union is in violation of the law, according to Director Brady.
“In your testimony, you mentioned the annual oversight visits of the credit unions by external auditors,” said Sen. Graham, Sponsor of the Bill. “How often are the audits conducted?” he asked. In response, Director Brady said, “The audits are conducted once a year by external and federal auditors. Upon completion, the reports are sent to NCUA for further review.”
Sen. Tregenza Roach said, “NCUA regulation comes with a cost.” He asked, “What costs are affiliated with NCUA?” Brady stated that there are fees that must be paid to NCUA. The formula is based on the risk associated with a particular credit union. The financial portfolio and losses will determine the cost per credit union.
Chief Executive Officer Keisha Prince, NCRM, NCBSO added, “Although, NCUA can be difficult because it comes with a cost. However, their oversight ensures sounds management of credit unions. NCUA performs regulatory services and evaluate credit unions based on capital adequacy, management responsibilities, earnings, liquidity and market sensitivity.”
Sen. Marvin Blyden said, “I support this legislation because it is gives the Territory an upgrade by raising the standards of the credit unions. More importantly, it provides financial protection to the people of the Virgin Islands.
Similarly, Sen. Sammuel Sanes said, “This is one of those bills that makes plain sense.” He asked, “Were the victims of Her Majesty Credit Union reimbursed for their loss?” Director Brady said, “If Her Majesty Credit Union had been a legitimate operation and established under a federal charter through NCUA, then its accounts would have been insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, therefore, consumer interests would have been protected.”

Sen. Positive Nelson said, “Updating our laws to keep us in alignment is a very good thing. However, my main issue is that credit unions should have never been authorized by the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs because jurisdiction should be under the Division of Banking. If this was the case, regulation of Her Majesty Credit Union would not have slipped through the cracks.”
Ultimately, lawmakers voted favorably for Bill No. 31-0369.
The following measures were also considered and approved:
– Bill No. 31-0443 – An Act amending Title 22 Virgin Islands Code adding Chapter 20 to enact “The Virgin Islands Risk-Based Capital for Insurers Act”
– Bill No. 31-0444 – An Act repealing Title 22 Virgin Islands Code Section 1251(a) and adding Chapter 14 entitled “The Virgin Islands Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act” to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and update the insurance laws of the Territory placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions, and providing greater and more effective protection for the policyholders of the Territory

– Bill No. 31-0445 – An Act repealing and re-enacting Title 22 Virgin Islands Code chapter 31 to enact the “Virgin Islands Producer and Adjuster Licensing Act”
– Bill No. 31-0446 -An Act amending Title 22 Virgin Islands Code adding Chapter 60 to enact “The Virgin Islands Third Party Administrators Act”, updating the insurance laws of the Territory to reflect the licensing requirements contained in the model laws of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
– Bill No. 31-0398- An Act repealing title 33, Virgin Islands Code, chapter 12, section 525 relating to the rate of duty on articles shipped from within the U.S. Customs Zone.
– Bill No. 31-0442 -An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code Title 3, 9, and 22 to update the Insurance Laws of the Territory and to adopt the Core Standards and Model Laws and Regulations as established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) for purposes of obtaining accreditation with the NAIC, placing the Territory on par with other United States jurisdictions and attaining greater and more effective protection for the policyholders of the Territory
All bills approved will be forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further
consideration.
Senators present are Clifford Graham, Novelle Francis, Marvin Blyden, Myron Jackson, Sammuel Sanes, Positive Nelson, Tregenza Roach, Nereida O’Reilly and Kurt Vialet.
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COMMITTEE ON HEALTH DISCUSSES PLAN FOR SEA VIEW TO MOVE FORWARD

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ST.THOMAS—The Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services, chaired by Sen. Kurt A. Vialet, met Thursday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall, to receive testimony on the current standing of the Sea View Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.

“We’re here to hopefully be able to come up with some solutions,” said the Committee Chair. “The intent of me having this hearing is not to just allow everybody to vent and to say what took place. I am hoping that by the time we end this meeting, that we will be able to develop a plan moving forward,” he said. The meeting provided the space for a status update on the elderly residents that were relocated from the facility as well as the residents of the Adolescent Unit and sparked the discussion on solutions to prevent what transpired from reoccurring in the future.

Dr. Anita Roberts, Acting Commissioner of the V.I. Department of Human Services testified.

“It was and is my position that the seriousness of this letter of demand called for immediate action,” said Roberts. “That plan of action was approved and sanctioned by the staff of HUD that participated in the telephone call,” she said. “Admittedly there has been a perception that this move was characterized by abruptness,” Roberts added. “I am sorry for any distress that any family member experienced as a result of this.”

During the discussion lawmakers asked Roberts where the directive came from to remove patients from Sea View. Roberts repeatedly said that the decision was a collaborative effort. “I did not make that decision on my own,” she said.

Claude Earl Walker, Attorney General for the V.I. Department of Justice, said that the Commissioner acted within her authority, “based on the fact that CMS has cut off funding as of July 30 and has said that the facility is in disrepair and has failed to meet CMS standards but it wants to be a skilled nursing home facility for rehabilitative care,” he said.

Senators wholly disagreed.

“This was not good judgement,” said Sen. Almando “Rocky” Liburd.

Sen. Novelle E. Francis likened the removal of seniors to the handling of criminals who were issued a warrant for their arrest in the middle of the night, forcibly removed and remanded. “What crime did these seniors commit,” he asked.

Sen. Kenneth L. Gittens shared his sentiment. “What you did was wrong,” he said. “This was an eviction.”

Sen. Justin Harrigan Sr., the Committee Vice Chair expanded on officials’ claims that their actions were taken to “protect” residents and in turn asked them explain what residents needed protection from. Sen. Harrigan asked if residents family members had raised concerns relative to patient safety with the Department of Human Services prior to their removal. Officials said that no concerns had been raised by family members.

Sen. Myron D. Jackson, referred to what occurred as a “travesty”.

“It is evident that the Department of Human Services could have done better,” said Sen. Jackson.

“The bottom line is we have an institution and it’s the only institution of its kind,” he said. Sea View is worthy of being sustained.”

Attorney Walker maintained that while he understood the position of lawmakers, Sea View’s receipt of federal funding holds the institution to a higher set of standards.

Dr. Alfred O. Heath, CEO of the Sea View Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center said that he resented the implication that the standard of care offered to patients was subpar. “We still provide A1 care,” he said.

Sen. Vialet asked Dr. Heath if he would be willing to sell the facility. Dr. Heath responded by saying he would sell Sea View in “half a minute” for a reasonable price.

Dr. Heath explained that he had received a “nebulous offer” from Governor Kenneth Mapp but would be willing to renegotiate.

Sen. Vialet offered a resolution.

“In the interim, the plan should really be to maintain the patients at SeaView, maintain the present staff that is there at SeaView. The Government of the Virgin Islands [will] try to get into a purchase agreement to purchase the facility from Dr. Heath, transfer those employees over to Human Services. We shut Queen Louise down and relocate all of those patients up there and then we seek to get back CNS certification. That is the path I see,” he said.

“We do need to find the monies to purchase Sea View if we’re going to be floating any type of money for anything, Sea View need[s] to be a priority because we need to make sure that the elderly population on St. Thomas, [has] a home where they can go,” Sen. Vialet added.

By the end of the discussion, lawmakers and officials expressed approval for the turn the discussion had taken.

“I can sleep  tonight,” said  Dr. Heath.

Committee Chair Sen. Kurt A. Vialet, Vice Chair, Sen. Justin Harrigan Sr. and members Senators Marvin A. Blyden, Jean A. Forde, Novelle E. Francis Jr., Almando “Rocky” Liburd and Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, were present. Non-committee members, Senators  Kenneth L. Gittens, Clifford F. Graham, Myron D. Jackson, Positive T.A. Nelson, Tregenza A. Roach and Janette Millin Young, were also present.