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BILL TO ADJUST MEMBERS OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS SPORTS COMMISSION ADVANCES, AMENDMENTS TO UPDATE ELECTION LAWS HEARD

Published: Sep 8, 2022

ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Milton E. Potter, convened a meeting at the Capitol Building. Policymakers voted in the affirmative for Bill No. 34-0233- An Act amending Title 3, Virgin Islands Code, chapter 18, subchapter II, section 312 relating to the members of the VI Sports Commission, and sections 313 and 314 relating to the duties of the VI Sports Commission. Separately, senators vetted amendments to update Election Laws. All approved items on the agenda will be forwarded to the full body for further consideration.

Bill No. 34-0233 seeks to allow five members to constitute a quorum; establish that members can attend meetings in-person, and via teleconference; and change four-year terms to five years for the private sector individuals appointed by the Governor to the Virgin Islands Sports Commission. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Javan E. James, Sr., noted that the government of the Virgin Islands has the infrastructure and funding to create the blueprint for the development of sports tourism in the Territory. He shared that his vision for the bill is to generate revenues for the Virgin Islands through sports tourism.

Senator Potter queried the benefits of sports tourism and strategies to market and promote this opportunity. In support of the bill, Alani Henneman Todman, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Tourism, stated that sports tourism will encourage travel to the Territory. According to Henneman Todman, these events increase head-in-beds, stimulate the economy, and grow the USVI marketing presence through media syndicates, social platforms, influencers, and team fans. Moreover, Senator Potter inquired about methods to lure sports fans to the territory. Calvert White, Commissioner of Sports, Parks, and Recreation stated that the primary marketing strategy will focus on encouraging people to visit the Virgin Islands to enjoy the beautiful weather, especially since the events will take place during the winter season. At present, the timeline for hosting sporting events in the Territory has changed from June through September to October-December.

Separately, lawmakers received testimony on the proposed amendments to the Virgin Islands Code, Title 18, Election Laws of the Virgin Islands. Caroline Fawkes, Supervisor for the Board of Elections, stated that the election laws are outdated, antiquated, and in need of continual reform. Fawkes recommended that amendments are enacted by 2023, and applicable in the 2024 Elections:

  • Amendment No. 34-320, Chapter 2, Section 21, is amended by adding a new 115 appropriately numbered Section to read as follows: 116 Title 18, Virgin Islands Code, chapter 2, section 21 is amended in 117 subsections (b) by striking “by the Joint Board of Elections,” and 118 after “separate” striking the “ballot” and inserting “contest”.”
  • Amendment No. 34-321, Chapter 2 amendment, section 21 is amended by 120 adding a new appropriately numbered Section to read 121 as follows: “Section 45 is amended in subsection (a), in the first 122 sentences, by striking the word “each” and inserting “the”.”
  • Amendment No. 34-322, Chapter 3, section 46, is amended by striking the 124 phrases “the Supervisor of Elections and each board of elections with”.”
  • Amendment No. 34-0323, Chapter 3, Section 41 is amended by adding a new appropriately numbered section to read subsection (g) by striking “$75” and inserting “$100” and by striking “$125” and inserting “$150”.” This applies to the Board Members’ Stipend.
  • Amendment No. 34-457 Title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, section 94 is amended by adding subsections (d), (e), and (f) that read as follows: “(d) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the Director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in conjunction with the Supervisor of Elections, shall designate an employee in each district as a registrar.
  • Amendment No. 34-460 Title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, section 55 is amended as follows: (1) Subsection (a) is amended by striking “, or primary” and “of the district” where they appear in the first instance; and (2) Subsection (b) is amended by striking “a” where it appears after “proceeding before” and inserting “the” and by striking “a primary or” and inserting “an”.”
  • Amendment No. 34-461- Title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, section 56 is amended by striking “Member of boards of elections may act at any time as inspectors, and when so acting” and inserting “Any member of the Board of Elections may inspect the records of voter registration, but any removal of the information, including making copies, must be approved by a majority of the members of the Board at a meeting that has a quorum present. When inspecting the records of voter registration, a member”.
  • Amendment No. 34-462- Title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3 is amended as follows: 10 (a) Section 57 is amended by striking “and” where it first appears and inserting a comma (,); and by inserting “and the Supervisor of Elections” after “registration”; and (b) Section 58 is amended by striking “a board of elections” and inserting “the Virgin Islands Elections System”.

Senators in attendance: Chairman Milton E. Potter, Franklin D. Johnson, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Angel Bolques, Jr., Carla J. Joseph, and Genevieve R. Whitaker.                                                  ###           

 

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