The Legislature is one of three co-equal branches of the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States, with its own powers delegated by the Revised Organic Act of 1954, passed by the U.S. Congress, which established our local government. The other two branches are the Executive Branch, which is headed by the Governor and is responsible for administering the laws passed by the Legislature; and the Courts usually called the Judiciary, which interprets the laws passed. The Senators are elected representatives of the people and pass the laws for the people of the Virgin Islands, subject to the veto power of the Governor. These laws must not be in conflict with any federal rule or law, or in violation of the Constitution of the United States. The Legislature organizes Committees to plan ways in which the various departments of the Government can operate more effectively. When a new law or resolution is proposed, it is first written up as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bill,Ã¢â‚¬Â introduced into the Legislature, and given a number, and assigned to a Committee. After the Bill is discussed by the various committees concerned with its content, it is sent to the floor of the Legislature, voted upon by the fifteen Senators, and if passed by a majority of Senators present and voting, it is sent to the Governor for his signature. When the Governor signs the Bill, it then becomes an Ã¢â‚¬Å“ActÃ¢â‚¬Â or law of the Virgin Islands Government and will be put into effect. If the Governor vetoes the bill, the Senators can override the veto by a two-thirds vote of the fifteen-member body. The Legislature may convene in Special Sessions called by the President of the Legislature, by petition to the office of the President of the Legislature signed by a majority of the Senators, or by the Governor of the Virgin Islands.
The legislative power and authority of the Virgin Islands, created by Section 5-A of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands approved July 22, 1954, as amended, is vested in a legislature consisting of one house, designed as the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Legislature of the Virgin Islands.Ã¢â‚¬Â Annually, on the second Monday in January, the Legislature convenes in Regular Session. In addition to its lawmaking functions, the Legislature performs functions which include fact-finding and similar investigations, receiving and considering requests or petitions from groups and individuals confirming certain officers appointed by the Governor, and exercising quasi-judicial authority to punish in cases of certain offenses against the Legislature or its members.
The Legislature is composed of fifteen Senators, who serve for two-year terms. It adopts its own rules of procedure, establishes standing committees, maintains its own records, and elects its own officers. The presiding officer of the Legislature is the President of the Senate. To be eligible to serve as a member of the Legislature, a person must have attained the age of twenty-one years, be a U.S. citizen, be a resident of the Territory for not less than three years, and be a qualified voter of the district from which election is sought. Leadership The leadership of the Legislature consists of the following officers: President, Vice- President, Legislative Secretary, Majority Floor Leader, White House Liaison, and Minority Leader. These officers, with the exception of the Minority Leader, are selected by majority vote at the convening of a new legislature. President of the Legislature: The presiding officer of the Legislature whose functions include chairing the sessions of the Legislature, maintaining order in the chamber, appointing members of all committees and designating the chairpersons, appointing legislative employees, and other duties required by law or by the rules of the Legislature. Vice President: Performs the duties of the President in his absence. Legislative Secretary: Duties include calling the roll of members, recording the presence or absence of a quorum, and transmitting bills passed by the Legislature to the Governor. Office of the Executive Director The Executive Director is central to the administration and functioning of everyday legislative business. The Director is responsible for the daily administration of the legislative offices on all three islands and is assisted on St. Croix by a full-time Assistant Executive Director.
All bills, legislation initiated by the Governor, zoning change petitions, commendatory resolutions, and formal correspondence pass through the Office of the Executive Director before reaching the floor of the Senate. Acting as a clerk on the floor, the Executive Director reads all bills, resolutions, and correspondence, and conducts all votes put to a roll call. Additionally, the Executive Director is responsible for the printing and distribution of bills, acts, journals, and other official documents; the preservation of legislative records; and the supervision of all employees who may be assigned to this office by the President of the Senate.