Historical

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Historical Evolution of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands

not capable of independent action. It can be said therefore, that there was still no viable working instrument to enact legislation for the entire Virgin Islands and that a unified system of government was still woefully lacking. By this point, it was more than high time that one was placed into effect. In 1954, this unified legislative system was put into effect when the United States Congress passed the Revised Organic Act of 1954. Among other things, this act created a unicameral body called the Legislature of the Virgin Islands in which all legislative power was vested. For the first time since 1863, the government of the Virgin Islands was fused into one entity. A relatively equal balance of power between the executive and legislative branches was finally attained. In addition, equal representation from St. Thomas and St. Croix was achieved. The Legislature created by the aforementioned act, w1icameral, consisted of eleven members: three from the District of St. Croix; three from the District of St. Thomas; one from the District of St. John; and four At-Large, serving all three islands. The At-Large concept is utilized solely for the purpose
of embodying the unified interest and to reduce inter-island deadlocks. In 1966, the Legislature under-went further change when the United States Congress and the Virgin Islands Legislature passed a resolution. The nwnber of seats was increased from 11 to 15 and the distribution changed to the following: seven from the District of St. Thomas - St. John; seven from the District of St. Croix; and one At-Large who must be a resident of St. John. With that move, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands had finally evolved into its present form. It is now a body with the rights and powers enjoyed by most state legislatures of the Union. With the century-long development of the legislative branch from Colonial Assembly to Virgin Islands Legislature, we see an important part of a people's struggle for self-government.