COMMITTEE APPROVES BOARD NOMINEE AND SEVERAL BILLS

Published: Jul 8, 2022

ST.THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, led by Senator Milton E. Potter  convened in a meeting at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers. All approved
nominees and bills will be forwarded to the full body at the next Legislative Session.
In Block 1, the Committee considered the nomination of Diane E. Brooks to the Virgin Islands
Conservation District. Ms. Brooks’ nomination was voted upon favorably.

In Block 2, the Committee considered the following bills, both of which were voted upon
positively:

Bill No. 34-0167, an act amending Act No. 8473, section 1, subsection (q)(3) relating to a
$2,175,000 appropriation to the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation to provide for a
grant of that sum to the Twin City Cricket Association for the development of the Department of
Sports, Parks and Recreation St. Croix Cricket Field and providing for other related purposes.
This measure was proposed by Senators Kurt A. Vialet, Javan E. James, Sr., Novelle E. Francis,
Jr., and Donna A. Frett-Gregory and cosponsored by Kenneth L. Gittens.

Bill No. 34-0255, an act repealing and re-enacting title 22 Virgin Islands Code sections 1443 and
1446 to implement revisions that were made to the National Association of Insurance
Commissioners’ Credit for Reinsurance Model Law. This measure was proposed by Senator
Donna A. Frett-Gregory. Both bills were favorably considered by the Committee.

In Block 3, the committee considered the following:

Bill No. 34-0267, an act amending the Virgin Islands Code, title 3, chapter 18, section 302
relating the duties of the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation to include the duty to
develop neighborhood parks or recreation areas primarily designed to provide facilities for team,
recreational or individual sports; amending title 3, chapter 22 section 401 to direct the
Department to identify, supervise, administer, manage, regulate and control all sites within the
Territorial Parks System; amending title 32, chapter 2 to establish the Division of Territorial
Parks and Protected Areas within the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to establish
and maintain a Territorial Parks System; amending title 33, chapter 111 to establish in the
Treasury of the Virgin Islands The Territorial Parks System Revolving Fund and the
Recreational Parks Revolving Fund; repealing title 3, section 308, title 32, chapter 4; and for
other related purposes. This measure was proposed by Senator Samuel Carriόn.

Bill No. 34-0268, an act amending title 32 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 2A, section 32 relating
to the Territorial Park Board of Trustees, to increase the membership of the Board, to authorize
the Board to appoint two members, to limit service on the Board to two consecutive terms and
providing for other related purposes. This measure was proposed by Senator Samuel Carriόn.

Jean-Pierre Oriol, the Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources
provided testimony, supporting both Bill No. 34-0267 and Bill No. 34-0268. To fulfill the
mandate of the bill, DPNR will be asked to formulate and execute a long-range comprehensive
conservation plan and program, and to acquire, where appropriate, privately, and publicly owned
properties that are suitable for development as parks or protected areas, and by operating a
territory wide system of parks and recreation programs for cultural, educational, recreational,
environmental, and economic benefit for the people of the Virgin Islands. The Department
anticipates that the newly established systems of parks would be used for a variety of different
uses, such as environmental education, boating, fishing, swimming, and similar activities. This
new park system would not be responsible for the development of neighborhood parks or
recreation areas that are designed to provide facilities for team or individual sports. These would
continue to be entrusted to the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation, pursuant to Virgin
Islands Code, Title 32.

Calvert White, the Commissioner of the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation also
supported both measures. White stated that implementing the legislation would allow DSPR to
focus on sporting and recreational facilities, while still giving full support to DPNR. DSPR
would continue to work on the territory’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan to ensure that
the new system of territorial parks would receive federal funding. The Land and Water
Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965 was enacted to assist in preserving, developing, and
assuring accessibility to all citizens of the United States of America quality and quantity of
outdoor recreation resources. The LCWF State Assistance Program authorizes the Secretary of
the Department of the Interior to provide financial assistance to state for outdoor recreation
purposes, this apportionment is dictated yearly by Congress. To be eligible for assistance through
the LWCF program, states must prepare and maintain a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor
Recreation Plan or TCORP, for territories. TCORP is a five-year plan that evaluates the demand
and supply of outdoor public recreation resources. It also identifies capital investment priorities
for acquiring, developing, and protecting outdoor recreational resources. The most TCORP
expired in 2019.

Vincent Richards, the Deputy Commissioner of Property & Printing at the Department of
Property and Procurement delivered testimony, supporting the proposed measures. Richards
stated that it was understood that the proposed measures would clarify roles and responsibilities
between the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Property and
Procurement. The Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation would have responsibility over
the neighborhood parks and other areas for individual use. The Department of Planning and
Natural Resources would have responsibility over the areas as defined in the proposed
legislation. Both measures were voted upon favorably.

In Block 4, the Committee considered the following:

Bill No. 34-0266, an act amending title 18, chapter 5, section 94a of the Virgin Islands Code
relating to early voting, to set the time for early voting; amending chapter 25, sections 661, 662
and 664, relating to absentee voting, to provide for all persons eligible to vote in elections in the
Virgin Islands to be entitled to vote in any election by absentee ballot. This measure was
proposed by Senator Alma Francis Heyliger.

Bill No. 34-0230, an act amending title 18 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 110, relating
to registration of electors to require the Supervisor of Elections to compile an active vs. inactive
voter’s list within 90 days after each General Election starting with the General Election in 2022.
This measure was proposed by Senator Kenneth L. Gittens.

Caroline Fawkes, the Supervisor of Elections of the Election Systems of the Virgin Islands
delivered testimony in support of Bill No. 34-0266. Fawkes stated that the Election System did
not support the early voting portion of the proposed bill, however she stated that they did support
the absentee ballot portion, with recommended amendments. Fawkes mentioned that the Election
System could not support 30 days of early voting, because early voting must end early voting at
least five days prior to any election to forward critical data to the vendor in Nebraska for
conversion and uploading. The data is then returned to the Election System in a secure file in
preparation for Election Day. Additional time must be considered for unforeseen data errors.
Any qualified elector may request and submit their absentee ballot, beginning in 2022 elections
in the manner provided in Tile 18, Chapter 25 of the Virgin Islands Code. Any person registered
and otherwise qualified to vote in elections in the US Virgin Islands, a member of the United
States Uniformed Services, or a spouse or dependent of a member of the Uniformed Services.
The committee voted upon both measures favorably.

In Block 5, the Committee considered the following measures:

Bill No. 34-0212, an act amending title 28, chapter 29, section 660 of the Virgin Islands Code
to include additional requirements for the notice and publication of lists of abandoned property.
The measure was proposed by Senator Alma Francis-Heyliger. The measure was voted upon
favorably.

Bill No. 34-0274, an act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin
Islands, acting through its Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, and
A-9 Trucking Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a N2N Water Supply for Parcel No. 1-20- 1, Estate Bovoni,
Nos. 1 and 2, Frenchman’s Bay Quarter, on the island of St. Thomas for the purpose of operating
a water delivery, trucking, heavy equipment business, a repair garage, and for other related
purposes. The measure was proposed by Senators Donna A. Frett-Gregory and Janelle K.
Sarauw. This measure was voted upon favorably.

Bill No. 34-0276, an act approving the Lease Agreement between the Government of the Virgin
Islands, acting through its Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, and
Liberty Mobile USVI, Inc., for Parcel No. 6-4-1 Estate Carolina, No. 1 Bay Quarter, St. John,
Virgin Islands to develop, construct, operate, maintain, repair, replace and upgrade a wireless
communication facility and for other related purposes. The measure was proposed by Senator
Marvin A. Blyden. This measure was held in Committee at the call of the chair.

Senators present at today’s committee hearing included Senators Milton E. Potter, Kenneth L.
Gittens, Novelle E. Francis, Jr, Carla J. Joseph, Franklin D. Johnson Steven D. Payne, Sr.
Genevieve R. Whitaker, Samuel Carrión, Marvin A. Blyden, Donna A. Frett Gregory, Javan E.
James Sr, and Kurt A. Vialet.

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