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St. Croix–The Committee on Government Affairs, Veterans, Energy and Environmental Protection, chaired by Senator Sammuel Sanes, met on Friday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room on St. Croix to receive testimony on several measures.

Bill No. 32-0062, proposed by Sen. Myron Jackson, sought to amend Title 12, Virgin Islands Code, by establishing the Community and Heritage Tree Law of the Virgin Islands. “The purpose of Bill No. 32-0062 is to protect our heritage trees, native trees and cultural landscape,” said Jackson. ‘Heritage tree’ means any tree, public or private, which is determined pursuant to this chapter to be of intrinsic value to the public because of its species, size, age, location, ecological importance, historical and cultural significance, aesthetic value, economic benefit, special character, or community benefit.

“It will become vital that homeowners and businesses replant native trees, to prevent losing an integral part of our natural heritage as the Virgin Islands continues to develop as an urban and commercial center,” stated Mario A. Francis, Chairman of the U.S. Virgin Islands Urban & Community Forestry Council, Inc. The measure was held in Committee for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0133, proposed by Sen. Sammuel Sanes, sought to amend Title 27, VI Code by mandating the Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs to impose a 2-year moratorium on the issuance of new licenses and establishes a limit on the number of gas station licenses issued on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Devin Carrington Esq., Commissioner of the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, stated that the measure would be more effective by addressing the proximity of gas stations to residential areas. The bill was held in Committee for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0131, also proposed by Sen. Sanes, sought to revise Title 30, chapter 5, section 116 of the VI Code, authorizing the electric utility company to give local suppliers priority in the purchase of supplies, material, equipment and contractual services. The measure was held in Committee for further consideration.

Bill No. 32-0037, an Act authorizing the Government of the Virgin Islands through its departments, bureaus, agencies and instrumentalities to implement flextime or staggered time at its discretion. Proposed by Senators Jean Forde and Myron Jackson, the measure provides extended service hours without increasing personnel costs or impairing the services and functions of any departments, bureaus, agencies or instrumentalities of the executive branch. The measure was held in Committee at the call of the Chairman.

Committee members present were: Chairman Sammuel Sanes, Senators Marvin Blyden, Alicia “Chucky” Hansen, Jean Forde, and Tregenza Roach. Non-Committee members were Senators Myron Jackson and Brian Smith.