ST. CROIX–The Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Kurt A. Vialet, met Thursday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix. The committee took testimonies on two pieces of proposed legislations, Bill No.32-0066 and Bill No.32-0042.
Bill No.32-0066 proposed by Senator Marvin A. Blyden is an act making an appropriation of $500,000 from the Anti-Liter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (WMA) for the purchase of surveillance cameras to be installed at selected bin sites.
Senator Blyden said the appropriation was necessary due to individuals that are going to bin sites and are illegally dumping garbage in all sorts of manner without regards to littering. He added that it’s time we start to issue citations to violators and the best way we can do this is by installing surveillance cameras at the sites.
Testifying in support of Bill No.32-0066 was Vincent Ebbesen, Solid Waste Director, WMA, who said unmanned bin sites are open to the public for use throughout the day and night. He added that surveillance cameras will help the Authority monitor the unmanned bin sites for illegal dumping, unsanitary practices and other activities that pose a health risk.
According to Ebbesen, the cameras will help WMA assess fines for littering and illegal dumping activities. In addition, the cameras will allow WMA to monitor the bin sites for cleanliness by scheduling additional pickup services.
Clarina Modeste Elliott, Executive Assistant Commissioner of Finance, appearing on behalf of Commissioner Valdamier Collens said based on their review of the condition of the proposed funding source and the relevance of its use, they support the legislation as proposed. She pointed out that with the collection of these fines or fees generated would afford the opportunity for the replenishment and sustainability of the Anti-Liter and Beautification Fund.
Bill No. 32-0042, proposed by Senator Neville James, is an act repealing the Virgin Islands Code where necessary and adding a chapter entitled, “The Virgin Islands Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act.”
This repeal, according to Senator James, is to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and update the insurance laws of the Territory placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions, and providing greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the Virgin Islands.
Gwendolyn Hall Brady, Director of the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation said in her testimony that the territory is required to adopt Bill No.32-0042 as part of the requirements to obtain accreditation by the NAIC.
Director Brady said the NAIC is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. Territories, which includes the U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to Director Brady, accreditation is the designation given by NAIC to a state or territory that has demonstrated that it has met and continues to meet all required legal, financial and organizational standards. A significant aspect of the Bill pointed out Director Brady, is that it gives to the Commissioner of Insurance the authority to examine, not only the insurance companies within the holding company system, but all of the insurer’s affiliates that are also a part of the holding company system whether or not they engage in the business of insurance.
Director Brady drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that, the Territory’s adoption of Bill No.32-0042 is vital in the context that because Guardian Insurance Company, one of the leading insurance companies in the Territory, is part of an insurance holding company system and is at present the Territory’s only domestic, multi-state insurer, meaning that Guardian is domiciled in the U.S. jurisdiction and is also licensed to conduct business in other U.S. jurisdictions.
Other testifiers at Thursday’s meeting; for WMA was Rasheed Hodge, Network Administrator and for Banking and Insurance were: Atty. Glendina Mathew, Assistant Director and Legal Counsel; Atty. Monica Williams Carbon, Division Legal Counsel; and Cheryl Charleswell, Chief Financial Service Examiner.
The Committee voted in favor of both Bills and sent them to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
Committee members in attendance were: Chairman Senator Kurt A. Vialet, Marvin A. Blyden, Neville A. James, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Brian A. Smith, and Dwayne M. DeGraff. Non-Committee member was Senator Novelle E. Francis Jr.