Bill No. 29-0236 is amended by striking all of the language after the enacting clause and inserting new language that reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the American Law division of the Library of Congress found, in response to inquiries from concerned officials, that the congressional authorization to draft a United States Virgin Islands constitution granted by federal law is a general grant of authority which did not expire when the prior conventions failed to secure a constitution, and that the Virgin Islands could continue in its pursuit of a constitution under the same conditions as were described in Public Law 94-584 without need for further Congressional action; and
WHEREAS, the United States Congress authorized the United States Virgin Islands to establish a constitutional convention, and the rights, duties and obligations of the convention, as established for the drafting of a proposed constitution, as set forth in Public Law No. 94-584, approved by Congress on October 12, 1976, was fully exercised except for certain issues raised by the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the Fifth Constitutional Convention completed a draft document that was sent to the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands which was forwarded to the President of the United States and passed on to the United States Congress for review; and
WHEREAS, Congress and President Obama returned the draft document for revisions by the convention for reasons contained in a Memorandum dated February 23, 2010, by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Assistant Attorney General, for the Office of Management and Budget;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Memorandum, as published on the Department’s website, analyses several features of the proposed constitution of the United States Virgin Islands including: “(1) the absence of an express recognition of United States sovereignty and the supremacy of federal law; (2) provisions for a special election on the USVI’s territorial status; (3) provisions conferring legal advantages on certain groups defined by place and timing of birth, timing of residency, or ancestry; (4) residence requirements for certain offices; (5) provisions guaranteeing legislative representation of certain geographic areas; (6) provisions addressing territorial waters and marine resources; (7) imprecise language in certain provisions of the proposed constitution’s bill of rights; (8) the possible need to repeal certain federal laws if the proposed USVI constitution is adopted; and (9) the effect of congressional action or inaction on the proposed constitution”; and
WHEREAS, the United States Congress, in Senate Joint Resolution 33, based on the Department of Justice Memorandum, urged the Virgin Islands to reconvene a Constitutional Convention to revise the Fifth Constitutional Convention draft consistent with the nine (9) issues identified in the Department of Justice Memorandum; and
WHEREAS, the Fifth Constitutional Convention has been unable to formally convene without enabling legislation coupled with the fact that United States Virgin Islands are experiencing a fiscal crisis that challenges the resources available to continue the work started by the Fifth Constitutional Convention, and provisions should be made to made to modify the law that established the Fifth Constitutional Convention; and
WHEREAS, the 29th Legislature of the United States Virgin Islands held hearings on all three main Islands in the territory on July 23, 25, & 27, 2012 to ask the people of the Territory how we should proceed to complete the necessary revisions to the draft Fifth Constitutional Convention document; and
WHEREAS, it is the sense of the Legislature that the people of the United States Virgin Islands continue to favor the adoption of a constitution for the Territory as a significant step toward greater self-determination and autonomy in the Territory’s relationship with the United States Government, and that a modification to the law creating the Fifth Constitutional Convention is needed;
WHEREAS, it is the sense of the Legislature that the people of the United States Virgin Islands want, for a limited time, for the elected delegates of the Fifth Constitutional Convention to re-convene to make the revisions as mandated by Congress and if the Fifth Constitutional Convention is unable to complete the process then the Virgin Islands Legislature shall determine the next step; Now, Therefore,
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands:
(a) Notwithstanding any other law or any of the provisions of Act 6688 and the amendments thereto, the 29th Legislature of the United States Virgin Islands provides the following law establishing and convening the Fifth Revision Convention [5thRC].
(b) The 5thRC is hereby established to revise the draft Virgin Islands Constitution created by the Fifth Constitutional Convention, and is called to convene during the period beginning October 1, 2012 until October 31, 2012 to ratify and approve the final revised draft constitution submitted by the legal team assembled to revise the document as mandated by the Congress and the President.
(c) The 5thRC shall be comprised of the 30 elected delegates of the Fifth Constitutional Convention and a legal team as comprised below.
(d) The 5thRC shall have the power and duty to revise the draft Fifth Constitutional Convention document as directed by Congress in Senate Joint Resolution 33 and provided in the U.S. Department of Justice Memorandum dated February 23, 2010 and in addition the 5th RC delegates may further revise and/or modify the document, provided the additional revisions and/or modifications are consistent with the U.S. Constitution and as stated herein.
(e) To reduce costs, fees, and other expenses, the 5thRC shall use for all revisions, modifications, a determination of legal sufficiency and all legal matters, the 5thRC legal team. This legal team shall consist of five (5) attorneys to include the Chief Legal Counsel of the 29th Legislature of the United States Virgin Islands, a Virgin Islands Bar Association appointee, an attorney appointed by the Governor, an attorney appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and an attorney appointed by the President of the Legislature.
(f) The 5thRC legal team may consider all prior drafts of the United States Virgin Islands Constitution including the draft produced by the Fifth Constitutional Convention; the recommendations, comments and analysis as provided by Congress, President Obama, and the United States Department of Justice; and any other research, guide, constitution, or expert opinion the legal team deems helpful in completing a final document for ratification and adoption by the 5thRC.
(g) In order to assist this process and provide all the resources that may be needed to complete this entire process, the President of the 29th Legislature may appoint special committees of the 29th Legislature to assist the public and the 5thRC.
(h) All decisions of the 5thRC shall be by affirmative vote of a majority of those voting.
(i) A quorum of the 5thRC shall be 21 delegates. No 5thRC business shall be conducted in the absence of a quorum.
(j) The 5thRC delegates shall not receive compensation, but while attending public hearings or meetings called by the chairman a per diem for expenses from any funds provided by the Department of Interior or other sources may be allowed.
(k) In order to avoid additional fees, costs, and other expenses, and as provided by the President of the 29th Legislature, the 5thRC may utilize the resources of the 29th Legislature to accomplish the mandate of this law.
(l) The 5thRC shall adopt a proposed revised Virgin Islands Constitution no later than October 31, 2012. If the 5thRC, by a two thirds majority vote of all the delegates, agrees upon a proposed revised draft of the Virgin Islands Constitution by October 31, 2012, then the President of the 5thRC shall submit it to the Governor of the Virgin Islands and the President of the United States, in compliance with the provisions of Senate Joint Resolution 33 and the remaining relevant provisions of Act 6688.
(m) If the 5thRC does not adopt a proposed revised Virgin Islands Constitution as provided by this law, then the 5thRC and the Fifth Constitutional Convention are dissolved and the Legislature of the Virgin Islands shall have the full authority to address the Virgin Islands Constitution, as it deems appropriate.
(n) The 5thRC is urged to secure funding from the Department of the Interior or any other sources to complete the process as identified in this law.