ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Milton E. Potter, convened a meeting at the Capitol Building. Lawmakers voted on several measures, including Bill No. 34-0152- An Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 7, section 261, relating to the boards of examiners for trades and crafts, to change the number of members on the boards.
This measure seeks to reduce the number of members on the trade and craft boards. It requires members to be Virgin Islands residents and to have been licensed by their respective boards for five consecutive years before the date of appointment. The sponsor of the bill is Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr.
In support of the measure, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Richard Tomas Evangelista, noted that the amendment adds specialty licenses that will ultimately add contractor occupations under the purview of the Board. Furthermore, the amendment ensures that the local standard mirrors the national standard. Evangelista stated that ultimately, the bill enhances consumer protection. Senator Franklin Johnson inquired about the data reflecting the public’s complaints about shoddy contractors. However, Evangelista mentioned that data is unavailable.
Senators voted favorably for Bill No. 34-0156- An Act amending Title 15 Virgin Islands Code, Part 1, Relating to Decedents’ Estates by adding Chapter 1A—Enacting the “Virgin Islands Uniform Electronic Wills Act.” The bill is sponsored by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. The Virgin Islands Uniform Law Commission Chairman, Tom Bolt, indicated that the benefits are inclusive of solving inter-jurisdictional recognition challenges, the Electronic Will is valid in the Superior Court, and the Electronic Will does not require in-person signage of documents. AARP State Director Troy de Chabert mentioned that AARP believes in having access to various tools like electronic wills that can help individuals and their families better plan for their estate planning needs. Senator Potter stated that he believes millennials or people with limited resources will use the Electronic Will. However, he is uncertain that the elderly will be inclined to use this service.
Lawmakers voted and approved the following:
• Bill No. 34-0198- An Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code chapter 10, section 330 establishing the Virgin Islands Contractors, Trades and Crafts. Bill Sponsor is Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr.
• Bill No. 34-0087- An Act providing for a Complete Streets Policy and creating a Complete Streets Task Force within the Department of Public Works to aid in the development and implementation of strategies to increase the usability of all streets for all modes of travel for citizens of all ages and abilities in the Virgin Islands. (Sponsored by: Senator Steven D. Payne, Sr., Marvin A. Blyden, and Genevieve R. Whitaker)
• Bill No. 34-0096. An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 1 by adding a section 27j, establishing the Virgin Islands Virtual Information System; and providing for other related purposes. (Sponsored by: Senators Janelle K. Sarauw and Donna A. Frett-Gregory. Co-Sponsored by Senator Javan E. James, Sr.)
• Bill No. 34-0090- An Act amending Title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 25, subchapter V, section 570 relating to the Career Incentive Program for peace officers to extend the program to all peace officers identified in title 5 Virgin Islands Code, section 3561(a). (Sponsored by Senators Milton E. Potter and Javan E. James, Sr.)
• Bill No. 34-0146- An Act acknowledging and commending the memory of Mary Thomas, Axeline Salomon, Mathilde McBean, Susanna Abramson, and other estate laborers before, during, and after the Labor Uprising of 1878 or “Fireburn” and their courageous pursuit of human rights, freedom from serfdom variant, and improvement of labor conditions in the former Danish West Indies, and condemning the excessive, cruel, and unjust punishment meted out to the laborers by the Danish government. (Sponsored by Senators Javan E. James, Sr., Marvin A. Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Genevieve R. Whitaker, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Franklin D. Johnson. Co-Sponsored by Senators Samuel Carrión and Carla J. Joseph)
• Bill No. 34-0157- A Resolution honoring and commending Gloria H. Canegata Waterman for her outstanding years of service to the Virgin Islands community as an educator and public servant through various organizations. (Sponsored by Senators Kenneth L. Gittens and Genevieve R. Whitaker)
• Bill No. 34-0174- A Resolution commending the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas, on the commemoration of its 50th Year Anniversary (1971-2021) and acknowledging the many accomplishments of the administrators, teachers, and students. (Sponsored by Senators Steven D. Payne, Sr., Carla J. Joseph, Alma Francis Heyliger, and Milton E. Potter)
• Bill No. 34-0182- An Act amending Title 31 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 1, section 4, relating to the naming of real and personal property of the Government of the Virgin Islands after persons, to exempt the University of the Virgin Islands from the requirement of obtaining legislative approval before naming any property of the University of the Virgin Islands for the sole purpose of allowing fundraising by the University and exchange for and recognition of significant financial bequests or endowments (Sponsored by Senators Marvin A. Blyden and Novelle E. Francis, Jr.)
Senators in attendance: Chairman Milton E. Potter, Franklin D. Johnson, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Steven D. Payne, Sr., Carla J. Joseph, Janelle K. Sarauw, Javan E. James, Sr., Genevieve R. Whitaker and Javan E. James, Sr.