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LAWMAKERS VET ZONING MAP AMENDMENTS

ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee of the Whole led by Senate President Donna A. Frett Gregory, convened Thursday in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chamber to receive testimony on seven zoning map amendment applications. Policymakers did not vote on the zoning map amendments. However, action will be taken during the next scheduled Legislative Session.

Lawmakers were informed of zoning map amendment applications geared toward economic growth, small business opportunities, and job creation. Applicants or their representatives defended their applications to convert and/or construct structures into a hair salon, to build multiple storage facilities, to also build affordable housing, and to expand existing businesses.

Acia E. Brathwaite – ZAT-22-13: Request to rezone Parcel No. 173-A-66 Estate Anna’s Retreat, No. 1 New Quarter, St. Thomas from R-2 (Residential Low Density-One and Two Family) to B-2 (Business Secondary/Neighborhood). Braithwaite testified that the purpose is to convert an existing laundry room into an appointment-only hair salon that will be operated part-time. Furthermore, the source of water for the salon are cistern and portable water. Sewer lines are connected and there is adequate parking for customers. The Department of Planning and Natural Resources Assistant Commissioner Keith Richards noted that DPNR recommends that a use variance be granted.

Sunshine Parking, LLC – ZAT-22-14: Request that a use variance be granted to the B-2 (Business Secondary/Neighborhood) zoned Parcel No. 18A Remainder Estate Smith Bay, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 East End Quarter, St. Thomas. Richard P. Bourne-Vanneck, Attorney and legal counsel of the applicant, Sunshine Parking, LLC stated that presently, the property is a gated parking lot with plans of converting it into a Warehouse and Storage facility housing twenty-nine storage containers to be utilized by the Marine Industry. Leia LaPlace-Matthew, Territorial Planner, Division of Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning, Department of Planning and Natural Resources stated that DPNR supports the request.

Petrus Properties, LLC – ZAT-22-12: Request to rezone Lease Area 47D-1 Kronprindsens Gade, Kronprindsens Quarter, St. Thomas from P (Public) to B-3 (Business Scattered). The purpose is to commence the second phase of Petrus Plaza which entails constructing a two-story building with rental spaces for local businesses. Approximately fifteen additional parking spaces will be added to accommodate consumers. There is one individual who opposes the expansion. The opposer cited reasons such as building in a flood zone, overdeveloped projects, and plans that do not show adjacent uses to include intended access for existing neighboring businesses. In accordance with the Report on Petition to Amend Official Zoning Map No. STZ-11, DPNR is in favor of the application.

E&C Development, LLC – ZAT-22-9: Request to rezone Parcel No. 2 Remainder Estate Bovoni, Nos. 1 & 2 Frenchman’s Bay Quarter, St. Thomas from R-3 (Residential-Medium Density) to C (Commercial). The purpose of the application is to build warehouses and storage space. Julio King, Project Manager noted that the modern and sustainable four-building complex is to be used as a General Warehouse and Storage building. The project entails a $7,000,000 construction project with a deadline of completion in 2025. King indicated that employment opportunities will increase because of the need to hire construction workers and fill 100 job vacancies post-construction. Overall, LaPlace-Matthew stated that DPNR is in favor of the application with restriction of the entrance/exit access to the western boundary.

Diego A. Lima, Jr. – ZAT-22-15: Request to rezone Parcel No. 3-103 Remainder Estate Bovoni, Nos. 1 & 2 Frenchman’s Bay Quarter, St. Thomas from R-3 (Residential Medium Density) to B-3 Business Scattered). Jeffrey Boschulte, Project Architect for Boschulte Architecture, LLC., shared that presently the building is a two-story structure with an apartment on the second floor and storage units on the first floor. The applicant seeks to rezone it into a mixed-use development to keep the apartments and to lease the storage rooms for business purposes. LaPlace-Matthew shared that DPNR recommends that the application is granted.

The Soraya Diase Coffelt Living Trust – ZAT-22-4: Request to rezone 19F-1 Rem & 19N Rem Smith Bay, Nos. 1, 2, & 3 East End Quarter, St. Thomas from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-3 (Residential-Medium Density) and C (Commercial). Brian Turnbull, Zoning Consultant representing the Soraya Diase Coffelt Living Trust’s Petition. Turnbull stated that the client intends on establishing commercial and housing opportunities inclusive of commercial warehousing, bulk and cold storage facilities; funeral homes, businesses for equipment and services; small business centers, and affordable housing. LaPlace-Matthew indicated that DPNR recommends that the application is granted.

Market Square East, Inc. – ZAT-22-11: Request to amend the Official Zoning Map No. STZ-7 from R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two Family) and C (Commercial) to B-2 (Business Secondary/Neighborhood) and R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two Family) for Parcel Nos. L-1, 1-1, 1-Rem., C-1, C-Rem., D-Rem., G, H, M, N, P, S, R.O.W. Parcel Nos.1-A, C-A, D- A, Q, and R Estate Raphune, No. 5B New Quarter, St. Thomas and Parcel Nos. 1-1-1, 1-11, 1-1-Rem., 1-5-B-1, 1- 5-B-2, 1-5-B-3, 1-5-F, 1-15-1, R.O.W. Parcel Nos. 1-3(Revised)-1, and 1-3(Revised)-Rem. Estate Donoe, No. 2A New Quarter, St. Thomas. LaPlace-Matthew stated that DPNR recommends that the application is granted.

Senator Frett-Gregory expressed sentiments on Market East. “We need to look towards getting a larger anchor store other than K-Mart. We need to put ourselves in a position to be able to shop at a store and purchase what we need, and that’s not happening right now. I am happy that you are redeveloping that area. We need to see something that is fruitful,” she concluded.

Senators attending the meeting: Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Kurt A. Vialet, Franklin D. Johnson, Samuel Carrión, Carla J. Joseph, Marvin A. Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Angel Bolques, Jr., Janelle K. Sarauw, and Milton E. Potter. ###

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HEARS ZONING APPLICATIONS

ST. CROIX – Members of the Committee of the Whole, led by Senate President Donna A. Frett-Gregory, convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. Senators cannot vote on measures in the Committee of the Whole; however, action will be taken during the next scheduled Legislative Session.

 In Block one, ZAC-22-10, Marco St. Croix, Inc, represented by Shawn Baptiste, is requesting that Plot Nos. 1-K and 1-L Estate Diamond, Queen Quarter, St. Croix be rezoned from R-2 (Residential Low Density-One and Two Family) to C (Commercial). Baptiste is requesting the rezoning to accommodate the building of a water distillation plant and a multi-unit office complex. Jewel Poliums, the Planning Technician for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources delivered testimony. Per Polimus’ testimony, prior to the public hearing, one adjacent property owner registered no objection to the proposal. However, at DPNR’s public hearing held on August 11, 2022, two adjacent property owners registered opposition to the proposal.  

 Reasons for opposition included that privately owned road plot 1-B had been blocked, and a lawsuit had been filed seeking an injunction to have the gate removed. Also, guttering along the road was clogged without permission. DPNR’s Division of Building Permits Floodplain management program conducted inspection and found that a previous pipe was undersized. Flood improvements were made to eliminate flooding in the area. Landowners in the area were also concerned about the impact of the well on the water table and were concerned about land subsidence. The requested C commercial zoning was intended for light industrial/manufacturing uses to be located away from central business districts that catered to pedestrians and tourists and does not permit residential use. All the uses proposed by the application would not be permitted by the C commercial zoning. It was recommended by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources that the properties be rezoned to B-2 (Business-Secondary/Neighborhood), which would keep the property in conformity with the business zoning that currently exists in the area. 

 ZAC-22-11, represented by Retes Allembert is requesting that Plot No. 34-A Estate Two Brothers and Smithfield, West End Quarter, St. Croix be rezoned from R-3 (Residential Medium Density) to C (Commercial). Allembert is requesting this zoning change to implement a car rental agency, known as Hibiscus Car Rentals, LLC, to be located on the west side of the island of St. Croix. According to Polimus, there was no objection to the proposal via telephone, and no opposition or concerns were registered at DPNR’s public hearing on September 12, 2022. Current R-3 zoning allows the usage of the property as a car rental agency. The area has a mix of residential, business, and commercial usage. There were no concerns by the public over the proposed use, and the B-3 zoning was considered appropriate. It was recommended by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources that the property be rezoned from R-3 to B-3. 

 In Block two, ZAC-21-3, represented by Atta and Jihad Misbeh are requesting that a portion of the Remainder of Estate Beeston Hill (South Portion), Matricular No. 6a, Company Quarter, St. Croix be rezoned from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to B-3 (Business-Scattered). Alvin Canaii, an advisor to Atta Misbeh gave testimony to the proposal, which is to allow for a mixed-use development, which would include six townhouse apartments, 12 gated condominiums, and a shopping pavilion. According to the report delivered by Polimus, at DPNR’s public hearing held on March 12, 2021, 41 attendees expressed opposition and concern to the proposal. Prior to and after the hearing, 22 letters and emails of concern were received, with numerous concerns, including negative effect on natural resources, population stagnation, increase in noise, decreased quality of life, and incompatible zoning change. The requested B-3 zoning allows uses which may not be compatible with the area. Polimus stated that the Department believed the B-3 zoning is inappropriate, and that the proposal should be reconsidered. It was recommended DPNR deny the petition to rezone the area.  

 Various senators voiced concern over the opposition to the proposed development. Senator Vialet stated that such developments had not been constructed on St. Croix for several years. Senator Francis Jr. also voiced concern stating that several properties on St. Croix had been constructed into Airbnb’s, and that property owners had become NIMBYS (not in my backyard), voicing opposition to any development whatsoever. Mr. Canaii also stated that many of the opposers of the development did not reside on St. Croix full-time.  

 ZAC-22-9, represented by Estelle McIntosh, is requesting that Plot No. 9-E Estate La Grange, West End Quarter, St. Croix be rezoned from R-2 (Residential Low Density-One and Two Family) to R-3 (Residential-Medium Density). McIntosh is requesting to expand the existing structure, from a one-story duplex to a two-story which will then consist of four apartments, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms each. There was no opposition to the proposal during DPNR’s public hearing held on July 6, 2022. An email was received after the hearing asking if adjacent properties would experience increased property taxes, whether adjacent properties would experience an increase in property values, whether the property would remain residential, and if the adjacent property would also be rezoned.  

 Zoning code does not address gradual increases in density and does not offer an option of an intermediary zone between R-2 and R-3 districts. The R-3 zone allows for 80 persons per acre, six story buildings, minimum lot sizes of 6000 square feet, and no setbacks. However, the surrounding R-2 zone allows for two dwelling units; two-story buildings; minimum lot sizes of 10,000 square feet; 15 feet front setbacks and 10 feet side and rear setbacks. The R-3 zoning was intended for larger density and more uses than R-1 and R-2 single and two-family zones. It was recommended by the Department that the rezoning be approved, on the condition that the property does not exceed four dwelling units. 

 ZAC-22-8, The Department of Public Works, represented by its Commissioner, Derek Gabriel is requesting that Plot Nos. 73-B and 271 Estate Concordia, West End Quarter, St. Croix be rezoned from R-3 (Residential-Medium Density) to P (Public). Derek Gabriel, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works delivered testimony. Gabriel stated that the Department of Public Works is seeking to rezone the property to bring it into zoning compliance, as well as to allow demolition and renovation of the Department of Public Works Frederiksted Facility. The Government of the United States Virgin Islands has owned the property for over 30 years, which functions as a satellite location for the Department of Public Works.  

 No opposition or concerns were expressed at DPNR’s public hearing held on July 5, 2022. A rezoning is being requested because the original zoning designation, R-3 residential, does not allow for offices, storage, or mechanical repairs to zoning designation P-Public, which would allow the use. In the report delivered by Polimus, the site would be redeveloped in one phase over 12 months. The site was previously grandfathered, however under the nonconforming section of the Zoning Code, Section 234, there are restrictions on the extension and enlargement of nonconforming buildings.  The rezoning of the property would bring the nonconforming property into zoning conformity, eliminating Section 234’s restrictions. Additionally, because the property is government owned land, the rezoning would satisfy Section 229q of the zoning law, stating that “Properties which are publicly owned should be shown upon the zoning map as such.” It was recommended that the property be rezoned. 

 In Block three, the Committee considered the lease between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Christiansted Harbor Resort Hotel and Marina LLC. 

 Anthony D. Thomas, the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement delivered testimony. Per testimony delivered by Thomas, the subject lease has been approved by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. in accordance with the provisions of Title 31, Chapter 20, Section 205(b) of the Virgin Islands code and is currently before the Legislature for consideration in accordance with the provisions of Title 31, Chapter 20, Section 205c. The government sought proposals to redevelop and reinvigorate offerings on Protestant Cay, for a qualified firm to design, finance, develop, and construct and operate a world-class resort with facilities on Protestant Key. Christiansted Harbor Resort and Marina, LLC, will lease Protestant Cay, located in Christiansted Harbor, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, specifically improved Plot No. 1 consisting of 4.404 US Acres, more or less and improved Plot No. 2, consisting of 2.862 US Acres, more or less with all buildings and improvements thereon. 

 Parties involved have negotiated an initial lease for 60 years, which will begin on the first day of the month following the approval by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Additionally, if the lessee is not in default of any of the terms of the lease, the lease provides the lessee with the option to renew for up to three consecutive periods of 10 years each upon written notice no less than 180 days before the end of the then current term. The base annual rent under the lease would be $150,000.00, payable in equal monthly installments of $12,500. During the construction period of the first phase of the project, the annual base rent will be paid at a reduced rate of $2,500 per month. Beginning in the 5th year of the lease and continuing every 5 years thereafter, the base rent under the lease will be increased in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers (1967-100%), or 15%, whichever is less. 

 The redevelopment of the property is planned to occur in two phases. In Phase 1, the lessee will renovate the existing 55 hotel rooms, restaurant, pool area, and other site work, with a projected value of $8 Million. During Phase 2, the lessee will construct 60 new hotel units, construct dock extensions, and other structures at a cost of $17 million. The lease requires the lessee to submit permit applications for the Government’s review upon the earlier of either 1: within 240 days of the commencement date for phase 1 and within 360 days after the completion of Phase 1 for Phase 2, or 2: at least thirty days before the lessee submits the applications to the respective governmental permitting authority for approval. The lease requires the lessee to use all commercially reasonable efforts to work diligently and continuously towards obtaining all required permits and approvals. 

 During Phase 1, the lessee must achieve substantial completion within 24 months after the lessee receives all final required permits and resort approvals. For Phase 2, the lessee shall achieve substantial completion within 30 months of receiving final permits and resort approvals. If the lessee fails to complete phase 2 improvements within the agreed schedule, there will be a penalty by increasing the monthly rental payments by 150%, until the completion of the improvements in Phase 2. 

 Senators present at today’s Committee of the Whole meeting included Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Sr., Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Alma Francis Heyliger, Kenneth L. Gittens, Franklin D. Johnson, Carla J. Joseph, Milton E. Potter, Kurt A. Vialet, and Janelle K. Sarauw. 

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We Salute and Honor Our Veterans

St. Thomas—President of the 34th Legislature, Donna A. Frett-Gregory said this Veterans’ Day, we take time to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and to recognize their bravery, commitment, and sacrifices to protect the values and freedoms we hold dear as Americans.

As a body, the 34th Legislature joins with all fellow Americans to honor every single service member who has ever worn one of our Nation’s uniforms. “As we pay tribute to our veterans, we are mindful that no ceremony or parade can fully repay that debt. So today, let us celebrate and honor our brave men and women for all they have done and continue to do on behalf of our great country.”

The community is encouraged to attend Veterans’ Day parades and ceremonies in the territory. In St. Thomas, the parade will be held on Friday, November 11, at 9AM, beginning at the Emile Griffith Park. The official ceremony will be held at the Veterans Drive promenade immediately after. In St. Croix, the parade will be held on Friday, November 11 at 3PM, beginning at the Frederiksted Post Office. The official ceremony will be held on the platform at the Verne I. Richards Veterans Memorial Park on Strand Street immediately after.

Senate President Frett-Gregory further indicated that our obligations to these heroic individuals is to never forget those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty. On this day and throughout the year, may we sustain their lasting contributions to our Nation’s progress and carry forward their legacy by building a future that is stronger, safer, and freer for all. “To all service men and women, we salute and honor you,” concluded Senate President Donna A. Frett-Gregory.

Committee Approves Several Resolutions and Gets an Update From WAPA

St. Croix—the Committee on Government Operations & Consumer Protection chaired by Senator Carla J. Joseph met Wednesday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix.

The day’s agenda consisted of several resolutions which sought to honor a number of Virgin Islanders for their contributions to the territory and also the committee received an update from the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority based on the enabling law and to be apprised on the current challenges and plan of action to resolve same.

The first item on the agenda was Bill No. 34-0280 – A Resolution honoring and commending Vaughn Benjamin posthumously for his contributions to reggae music and the Virgin Islands and the Global Community; however, as per the request of the family, the Bill was removed from the day’s agenda to a future date for consideration.

The second item on the agenda was Bill No. 34-0292 – A Resolution to posthumously honor and commend Rafael Garcia, MD for his outstanding years of service to the Virgin Islands community as a Medical Doctor and a public servant. Speaking on behalf of the family was Dr. Garcia’s son, Miguel Andres Garcia, who told committee members that anyone who was a patient of his father knew he had a genuine heart for his patients. He never rushed taking care of anyone and was always available to talk to his patients and enjoyed treating them. Dr. Garcia treated patients at his private office for 35 years. The committee also heard testimony from several other supporters who also expressed their support for the measure.

During consideration of the measure, several senators reflected on the care received from Dr. Garcia and expressed their support for the proposed resolution. Chairwoman Joseph said she never had the opportunity to meet the doctor, but the overwhelming positive comments speaks to his character and the service above self to the people of the Virgin Islands. The legislative measure received a unanimous approval and was forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

The next item on the agenda was Bill No. 34-0297 – A Resolution to posthumously honor and commend Roselin Maud McFarlane for her contributions to the Virgin Islands Community and specifically as an advocate of independent living for people with disabilities.

Deborah McFarlane Truitt, spoke candidly about her mother and said her mother loved everyone she met regardless of who they were or where they were from. She was very fond of her clients at the VI Association for Independent Living. Truitt summed up her mother as being God-fearing, giving, hard-working, and loving. Truitt further urged everyone to be a voice for the forgotten in our community and to be an agent of change just like her mother. The committee also heard from several other supporters of the measure who reflected on the services of Roselin Maud McFarlane.

The resolution was approved by the committee and forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

The last item on the agenda was an update from the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA). In a prepared statement, CEO Andrew Smith provided an overview in respect to renewable energy, solar, the fiscal and operational challenges, the status of the streetlight fund and the progress that has been made over the past ten months on the turnaround of the Authority.

CEO Smith told members of the committee that over the past several months, the Authority engaged with multiple developers, with both a Virgin Islands and international presence, with the objective of achieving two outcomes. One being the transitioning of St. Croix to 100% solar energy and a strategic initiative to displace expensive and volatile commodity-based fuel costs with lower, more stable solar energy cost through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement.

WAPA’s CEO further indicated that the Authority continues to be transparent about its cash shortfall and the efforts being made to place it on a sound financial footing. “Fuel prices have increased sharply since the beginning of 2021,” indicated Smith. Smith further added that fuel alone consumes approximately 70 percent of the Authority’s revenue. Despite the rise in fuel costs, Smith says the Authority continues to shield its customers from higher rates, with the most recent assistance from the Government of the Virgin Islands through the American Rescue Plan Act. Additionally, CEO Smith said that the Authority is moving forward with both electrical and water infrastructure improvements with the support of its federal partners. As it relates to the WAPA employees GERS withholdings, the Authority has made $918,890 in catch-up payments as of September 2022. The catch-up payments roughly total one-third of the previously unremitted employee withholdings due to GERS.

Senators in attendance for Wednesday’s committee meeting were Carla J. Joseph, Novelle E. Francis Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Javan E. James Sr., Franklin D. Johnson, Milton E. Potter, Samuel Carrión, Genevieve R. Whitaker, Kenneth L. Gittens and Angel Bolques Jr.

COMMITTEE UPDATED ON THE HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS PLAN FOR THE 2022 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON

ST. CROIX- Members of the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice, and Public Safety, chaired by Senator Angel Bolques, Jr., convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. Lawmakers were updated on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, also known as SWOT analysis, for hurricane preparedness programs and projects. Invited testifiers were officials from the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING).

Daryl Jaschen, Director of VITEMA noted that the Hurricane Preparedness Plan commenced in January 2022 with VITEMA, FEMA, and fifteen lead government agencies working in collaboration to identify a total of nineteen initiatives and conduct assessments prior to the start of hurricane season, which begins in June and ends in November. Officials met every two weeks with a primary focus placed on VITEMA and FEMA updating response plans, identifying loopholes, and developing strategies for the local government to work alongside federal partners in the event of a natural disaster. Regarding the provision of shelters in St. John, Senator Bolques stated that the existing shelter can house a maximum of 15 hurricane-displaced residents. This is a major disparity compared to the 5,000 residents of St. John. In response, Jaschen stated that VITEMA is actively looking for strong edifices that can be utilized as shelters during a storm, specifically in Coral Bay. In the interim, DHS will be ready to provide food, blankets, and necessities to individuals.

Some of the key objectives of the comprehensive Hurricane Preparedness Plan are inclusive of emergency temporary power, damage assessments, emergency food, disability integration, the issuance of public warning and communication, commodity distribution, shelters, debris management, patient movements, urban search and rescue, sea and air operations, bed down space for federal responders, disability integration, and assistance from the National Guard; according to Jaschen. Senator Bolques inquired if the VITEMA Information Officer can assist Spanish and Creole-speaking residents and whether telecommunication cellular providers are a part of the hurricane preparedness team. Jaschen indicated that services and resources are in place to assist non-English-speaking residents in the Virgin Islands. Moreover, Jaschen shared that Viya Communications joined the team five years ago. However, cellular service providers such as Liberty/ATT&T and T-Mobile will be invited to attend the meetings as well. Regarding the SWOT analysis, Jaschen said that the strengths are VITEMA’s skilled and dedicated staff, coordination abilities, and continual planning. The weaknesses are the lack of finding and retaining staff, uncompetitive salaries, and the lack of continuity of knowledge shared amongst employees. Areas of improvement are Public Misconception/Image, staff retention, and the need for staff training.

Senators present at the hearing: Angel L. Bolques Jr., Javan E. James, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin Blyden, Dwayne DeGraff, Kenneth L. Gittens, Franklin D. Johnson, and Alma Francis Heyliger. ###

Committee on Rules and Judiciary Gives the Nod of Approval to Several Nominees and Bills

St. Thomas—the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Senator Milton E. Potter, met Thursday to consider an agenda comprised of several nominations and various pieces of legislation.

First on the agenda were the nominations for Dr. Janis Valmond to serve on the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and Dr. Rick Warehime to served on the Virgin Islands Board of Pharmacy.

Dr. Warehime in his opening statement informed senators that he is aware of the issues affecting pharmacies because he too own and operate pharmacies in the territory. Dr. Warehime further indicated that due to his experiences in the pharmaceutical world, he desires to give back to the residents of the territory.

Dr. Valmond in her opening remark said she believes that her career and experience in public health, including her years in management and leadership within the Virgin Islands Department of Health, have provided her with the necessary experience and understanding of the important connection between healthy homes and the overall health of children and families in the community.

After a round of questions, the committee unanimously moved both nominations to the full Body for further consideration. Chairman Potter and other members of the committee described the nominees as being of good character and having the qualifications needed.

In the second block, the committee took up the nominations of Stephanie Hodge
and Christopher McDonald who both were nominated to serve on the Virgin Islands Real Estate Commission.

Nominee Hodge, who was nominated to a second term, told committee members in her opening statement that she is passionate about inclusion and diversity in the real estate industry and brings this philosophy to the Real Estate Commission. Hodge further indicated that during her previous tenure, she worked alongside fellow commissioners to reinstitute background checks for new applicants and ushered in scores of new applicants of which a large percentage hailed from the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region.

Nominee McDonald in his statement said his goal for the Commission is to bring awareness to the real estate industry, and the impacts that are affecting local Virgin Islanders. McDonald further indicated that he wants to see more local families owning a piece of property that they can use to achieve generational wealth.

Members questioned both nominees on their vision and goals for the commission and their responses were satisfactory. The committee then voted favorably for both Hodge and McDonald and their nominations were forwarded to the full Body for further consideration.

The next items on the agenda were: Bill No. 34-0295, which seeks to petition the Governor of the Virgin Islands to posthumously pardon Rothchild (Polly) Francis for unjust convictions. After discussions by senators, the Bill was approved with an amendment and sent to the full Body for further consideration.

Bill No. 34-0238 is an Act seeking to amend the Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 41(c), relating to courses of study in public schools to require that Virgin Islands and Caribbean history to be integrated into the curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12 and for other purposes.

Bill No. 34-0243- An Act amending title 27 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 4, section 193 to change the composition of the Board of Naturopathic Physicians.

Bill No. 34-0271- An act amending title 10 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 64 of the Civil Rights Act to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as an unlawful discriminatory practice.

Bill No. 34-0272- An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 16, section 274 to empower the Executive Director of the Taxicab Commission to hire the necessary staff to Procurement and On the Level d/b/a OTL MECHANICAL for the leasing of Parcel No. 69 Submarine Base, No. 4 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Bill No. 34-0236- An Act amending title 17 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 15, section 190dd extending the eligibility for the Virgin Islands Higher Education Scholarship Program to parttime students.

After discussions on the various measures, the committee then approved all of the items which were forwarded to the full Body for further consideration.

Senators in attendance for Thursday’s meeting were Milton E. Potter, Kenneth L. Gittens, Angel Bolques Jr., Novelle E. Francis Jr., Carla J. Joseph, Franklin D. Johnson, Genevieve R. Whitaker, Javan E. James Sr., Alma Francis Heyliger, Marvin A. Blyden and Samuel Carrión.

COMMITTEE UPDATED ON DISASTER RECOVERY PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS

St. Thomas- Members of the Committee on Disaster Recovery and Infrastructure, chaired by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building. Officials from the Virgin Islands Finance Authority and the Office of Disaster Recovery shared an update on the disaster recovery projects and programs in the Virgin Islands.

Dayna Clendinen, Interim Executive Director and Chief Disaster Recovery Officer of the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) provided an update on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), CDBG-Covid-19 (CV), Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), Mitigation and Electrical Grid, Emergency Rental Assistance (ERAP), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV). The Virgin Islands was awarded a total of $1,887,330,884 from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery, Mitigation, and Electrical Grid award. Out of that, the Virgin Islands received $1,075,489,884. Clendinen added that CDBG-MIT will fund hazard mitigation activities within the Territory in the amount of $744,188,000 while the remaining $67,653,000 supports electrical grid improvements. The Office of the Inspector General is conducting two audits to ensure that VIHFA is compliant with the federal guidelines and performance measures for the VI Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). Clendinen mentioned that the Authority launched an initiative inclusive of the Employee Onboarding Process, the Citizen Complaint Process, a Citizen Advisory Committee, and the RESURGE project.

Clendinen mentioned that the EnVIsion program will cost $160 million, with $135 million going to homeowners and $25 million for renters. Furthermore, to offset the increased cost of construction, VIHFA submitted an amendment to the Disaster Recovery Action Plan to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for approval to enable the EnVIsion program to provide financial assistance to more applicants. Furthermore, Clendenin indicated that the EnVIsion Program is providing services to a total of thirty-nine homes, of which thirty-two are on St. Croix and seven are on St. Thomas, that are currently under construction. To increase the number of home construction projects, VIHFA awarded Persons Service Corp, a general contractor, to provide construction services to 172 homes. VIHFA aims to reduce multiple solicitations from contractors to one contractor per 100 homes. Overall, lawmakers were not impressed with the slow progress of home construction projects.

Senator Sarauw expressed concern for homes in the Territory that are still utilizing blue tarps, issued to residents with damaged roofs since 2017. To date, there are homes in the Virgin Islands that are covered with tarps that are in disarray. The governor must be held accountable, no matter the excuses around it. These homes are not being repaired. Sarauw added that the Territory is going through hurricane season and residents are using tarps, including her neighbor’s home, which is constantly flooding when it rains. Sarauw inquired about the plan to eliminate the use of tarps and increase home roof repairs. In response, Clendinen said that blue tarps are not under the purview of VIHFA. Similarly, Adrienne Williams-Octalien, Director, Office of Disaster Recovery, indicated that there is no existing program for tarps and the installation of tarps. Sarauw cautioned that although a task may not be in your purview, we all live in a community with residents who need assistance with roof repairs. “We cannot be tone deaf to the needs of the community,” Senator Sarauw said.

In terms of the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV), a total of $2.2 million was allocated to the program. Clendinen noted that the purpose of ESG-CV is to respond to the COVID-19 crisis with a concentration on individuals who are homeless, and receiving homeless assistance, and to expand homeless assistance/homeless prevention activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID -19. A total of $702,000 was expended with that balance to be utilized by the September 30, 2023, deadline.

Senators who attended the meeting: Chairman Janelle K. Sarauw, Samuel Carrión, Marvin Blyden, Kurt A. Vialet, Franklin D. Johnson, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Carla J. Joseph, Genevieve R. Whitaker.                                                                                       ###

COMMITTEE RECEIVES UPDATE ON THE STATUS OF JFL NORTH, HERBERT GRIGG HOME FOR THE AGED, AND SENIOR CARE IN THE TERRITORY 

ST. CROIX – Members of the Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services led by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room. The Committee received a status update on JFL North, as well as an update on senior care in the territory.

Sen. Francis said he expected JFL Leadership to reassure the community that the process to open the new facility is coming to an end. “Our community is frustrated because there is the sense of promises being made about JFL North, but not kept,” he said. Francis referenced a recent article that described the territories as healthcare deserts and challenges in accessing healthcare. “Our community is getting older, and we must be proactive in the ways we support the health and well-being of an aging community.” 

Christopher Finch, the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation, said the JFL administration and board members are equally unhappy that JFL North remains unopened. Finch stated that there are many challenges encountered by staff providing care and patients receiving care in a compromised building. Furthermore, Finch stated that once JFL North opened, it must meet all accreditation guidelines to enable the safe provision of top-quality care.  

Finch acknowledged that one of the major challenges plaguing hospitals territory wide, are boarders, or frail seniors who live at the hospital because they have nowhere else to be placed and cannot live by themselves. He said that once opened, JFL North will lack the bed capacity to handle boarders. Finch noted that the boarder issue is directly related to a lack of long-term care services in the territory. The hospitals are working closely with the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, and the Office of Management and Budget to find placements for the 18 boarders between JFL and Schneider Regional Medical Center.  

Douglas Koch, the Chief Executive Officer of the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center also shared an update. Koch stated that the temporary hospital project has been faced with numerous challenges. Infrastructure challenges have been highlighted, especially in moments of adverse weather in the Virgin Islands. Koch stated that on average, there are 8-10 boarders in the hospital daily. As a result, approximately 35-40% of adult medical/surgical beds are already in use. This causes a major backlog, and the patients that are admitted also occupy rooms in the emergency room. Most days, the emergency room has four or five rooms, when there should ideally be at least twelve. Hospital staffing has also been a major concern at the facility. There is a national shortage of hospital personnel, and many are also facing the same issues, such as an aging workforce, retirements, burnout, and increasing cost of traveler and agency staff. The current nursing staff plan needs 140 bedside staff RNs. However, there are currently 73 bedside RN vacancies, a vacancy rate of about 52%.  

Darryl Smalls, the Executive Director of the Territorial Hospital Team for the Virgin Islands Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation spoke extensively on the progress of the JFL North project.  Smalls also presented a video and slide presentation to display the full scope of the project.  Smalls stated that he was excited to report that they were nearing completion of the construction activities on the mechanical building. This building would house critical systems, such as components of the life safety system, the domestic water supply system, the medical air and vacuum delivery systems, the oxygen supply system, the emergency backup generators, the fire suppression system, and the liquid propane distribution system. Smalls noted that he had previously testified that the scheduled completion of the mechanical building was August 2022. However, a major component, the 260,000-gallon water storage tank was impacted by supply chain issues and a world steel shortage. It is expected that the coordination of the testing and certification processes to ensure the systems are functioning is scheduled to commence in the third week of October and conclude in November 2022. Once all systems have received favorable certifications, and no other modifications are needed, the official transition from JFL to JFL North will immediately begin.  

Kimberly Causey-Gomez, the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services and Justa Encarnacion, the Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Health, testified on senior care in the territory. The committee also heard a written statement from Cindy Joseph, Owner of The Turner Point senior care facility. Turner Causey-Gomez stated that one of the key gaps in senior services is the lack of availability of nursing home beds and skilled nursing facilities to care for the elderly, frail and disabled seniors. The Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged-on St. Croix and Queen Louise Home on St. Thomas provides daily care to seniors aged 60 and older. There are currently 22 residents at Herbert Grigg, with an additional three residents expected in the coming weeks. Due to a lack of long-term care availability in the Virgin Islands, there is a wait list of almost 70 seniors including boarders. The Queen Louise Home for the Aged cannot admit any new residents due to current COVID-19 restrictions. When these restrictions are lifted, 1-2 admissions will be considered. Causey-Gomez noted that for a nursing home to properly operate, there must be appropriate staffing in numerous areas such as dietary, kitchen staff, cooks, workers, nursing/medical, institutional support, social services, and administrative staff. 

Lastly, Commissioner Encarnacion discussed the Department of Health’s role in senior care. According to Encarnacion, the Community Health Clinics play a major role in providing care for seniors diagnosed with chronic diseases, which include diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. To mitigate chronic diseases, DOH Division of Chronic Disease and Prevention has two programs for seniors. One of them is the Chronic Disease Self-Management, a six-week educational group workshop geared towards increasing awareness on how to self-manage chronic diseases. Currently, there are 150 participants attending eight workshops. The second is the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long self-management program that is currently providing services to 42 seniors. Encarnacion further mentioned that the Mobile Integrated Healthcare Program provides patients at home with declining mobility to receive treatment for chronic illnesses. A total of 69 participants joined the program.  

During the meeting, senators questioned the testifiers on various topics, to include details of JFL North, premium pay for employees, services available for seniors, options for long term care, and the meals on wheels program. 

Senators present at the committee hearing were Novelle E. Francis Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Kenneth L. Gittens, Alma Francis Heyliger, Janelle K. Sarauw, Angel L. Bolques, Jr, Franklin D. Johnson, and Carla J. Joseph. 

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THE FY 2022 APPROPRIATION TRANSFER REQUESTS FOR FIVE DEPARTMENTS MOVES FORWARD

ST. CROIX – Members of the Committee on Finance, chaired by Kurt Vialet, re-convened out of recess in a meeting at the Fritz E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room and voted in the affirmative on FY 2022 appropriation transfer requests for the Virgin Islands Department of Education in the amount of $5,549,953.45, Virgin Islands Department of Health in the amount of $95,000, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services in the amount of $54,281,000, the Virgin Islands Department of Labor in the amount of $646,266.61, and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works in the amount of $1,984,443.66.

Jenifer O’Neal, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that with regard to the transfers, there is nothing that would cause concern. OMB continues to monitor FY 2022 revenues and expenditures. Additionally, OMB, in collaboration with department heads, will ensure that funds are utilized without affecting the FY 2023 budget. Senator Donna Frett-Gregory cautioned that the appropriation transfers are not over budgeted, which can result in the Governor vetoing FY2023 budget items. However, Senator Vialet mentioned that money funded in FY 2022 should be there in FY 2023. In a line of questioning, Senator Vialet inquired about the days for cash at hand as well as the FY 2021 income tax refunds. In response, O’Neal noted that the government of the Virgin Islands has a total of 15 days of cash on hand. To date, approximately $5,000,000 has been paid for the FY 2021 income tax refunds. O’Neal shared those additional payments will commence during the first week of October 2022.

Lawmakers approved the following appropriation transfer requests:

· 001-22 Virgin Islands Department of Education Appropriation Transfer, “To provide equipment for the IT Department and the School Food Authority. It will also provide supplies for students and staff as well as allow for school enhancements. Further, the Virgin Islands Department of Education will meet the mandatory regulation that requires uniforms to be provided to cooks, monitors, athletes, and custodians to promote a better learning environment for the children of the Virgin Islands.”

· 002-22 Department of Health Appropriation Transfer, “To lease four buildings for Behavioral Health due to mold in the current building and to accommodate the cost of leases for rented office space, necessitated by their move from the Charles Harwood Complex.”

· 003-22 Department of Human Services Appropriation Transfer, “To utilize savings from salaries and fringe benefits for repairs, maintenance, fixtures, and equipment. Additionally, funds will be utilized to build a needed generator housing unit to allow Knud Hansen to remain fully functional during intermittent power outages. Funds will also be channeled to badly needed repairs at the St. John Multi-purpose Center.”

· 004-22 Department of Labor Appropriation Transfer, “To maximize resources by repairing deficient A/C ducts, installing fire suppression systems in both districts, and modernizing workstations to improve the quality of work for the VIDOL Team. Additionally, a mobile unit will be purchased to improve outreach and accessibility.”

· 005-22 Department of Public Works Appropriation Transfer, “To fund critical items such as cemetery walls, pickups, outstanding payments, and supplies.”

The meeting held today was attended by Kurt Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Javan E. James, Sr., Samuel Carrión, Marvin A. Blyden, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., and Carla Joseph.

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FY 2023 EXECUTIVE BUDGET AND GOVERNMENT INSURANCE RENEWAL AGREEMENTS APPROVED IN LEGISLATIVE SESSION

ST. THOMAS – The 34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, led by Senate President Donna A. Frett-Gregory, convened into regular legislative session today at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. Lawmakers considered bills for the Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget and heard testimony concerning insurance coverage for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands.

The body first convened into the Committee of the Whole to take testimony on the following:

• The Fourth Renewal of the Group Medical Health Insurance Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Health Insurance (OLC No. 3260-2022)

• The Fourth Renewal for the Agreement for Medical Health Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company for post-65 retirees (OLC No. 3261-2022)

• The Fourth Renewal of the Group Dental Health Insurance Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Dental Insurance (OLC No. 3262-2022)

• The Second Renewal of the Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Standard Insurance Company for Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (OLC No. 3264-2022)

• The First Renewal of the Agreement for Voluntary (Employee-Paid) Critical Illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees and Life Insurance Company of North America for Voluntary (Employee-Paid) Critical Illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance (OLC No. 3265-2022)

• The Third Renewal of the Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Standard Insurance Company for Group Vision Insurance (OLC No. 3266-2022)

Beverly Joseph, Chairperson of the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees delivered testimony on behalf of the board. According to Joseph’s testimony, when the employee, retiree, and government costs for all insurance coverages, including dental, vision, and life were included, it amounted to a 4% increase for the upcoming Fiscal Year. Joseph stated that “total cost” and “enrollment” figures usually exclude active employees of non-General Fund entities that are participants of the Government Employee’s Plan, such as the University of the Virgin Islands, The Virgin Islands Port Authority, the St. Thomas East End Medical Center, the Frederiksted Health Care Center, and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority. The Board is required to solicit competitive bids for the insurance program every five years and bids were last submitted for all benefits in 2011, in 2013 at the Board’s request, and 2018 for the 2019 Fiscal Year. Bids are scheduled to be solicited in 2023 for the 2024 Fiscal Year.

Based on the most recent medical claims expense report through June 2022, medical claim expenditures account for 89% of the medical plans’ premiums, exclusive of other plan expenditures such as administrative costs. This increased from the previous year is due to lower-than-expected losses due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Losses increased 2.4% from the previous period. However, the board anticipated a 5-8% increase in premiums to cover future claims and expenses. The initial medial renewal provided by CIGNA resulted in an increase of 9.8%, which totaled an overall increase of $15.8 million. With negotiations, CIGNA agreed to a 7.1% increase. The initial dental renewal provided by CIGNA resulted in an increase of 7.4%, which resulted in an overall increase of $398,400, and below the 10% rate cap. An overall medical plan increase of 4.9% was approved and inclusive of all participants. Dental plans were not increased for the upcoming plan year. Based on the premiums, the overall medical and dental increase to the Central Government will be about $6.9 Million.

Voluntary vision insurance is offered through The Standard insurance company; however, the Central Government does not make any contribution to this insurance. The Central Government provides basic life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage to all active and retired employees. Active employees receive a benefit of $10,000 and retirees receive $5,000. The Board negotiated a two-year rate guarantee with The Standard, so there will be no change in the premium for the upcoming Fiscal Year. All health insurance coverages combined will increase from $177.3 million in Fiscal Year 2022 to $184.3 Million in Fiscal Year 2023. This is an increase of about $7 million or 4%. The Legislature absorbed the increase to employees and retirees in Fiscal Year 2022. Employees and retirees are currently paying the same rate that they did in Fiscal Year 2019, 2020 and 2021. The Board is not recommending plan design changes for Fiscal Year 2023.

Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory voiced concern that the insurance renewals were often done at the last minute, stating that the Legislature was at a disadvantage. She stated that the process should be timelier.
Upon conclusion of the Committee of Whole, the Body reconvened into Regular Session to act on the following bills, all of which were voted upon favorably:

• Bill No. 34-0302, an act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0303, an act providing an appropriation for the operation of the judicial branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council, and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0304, an act providing an appropriation for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0305, an act providing an appropriation for salaries and expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0306, an act providing an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0307, an act providing an appropriation for the salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0308, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0309, an act providing an appropriation from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement for operating expenses for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0310, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0311, an act providing an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0312, an act providing an appropriation from the Government Insurance Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the Department of Labor and the Department of Finance for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0313, an act providing for the lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Health for Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0314, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0315, an act providing for a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for operating expenses to the Office of Management and Budget, the Virgin Islands Division of Personnel, the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and the Virgin Islands Department of Finance for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0316, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0318, an act providing an appropriation from the Virgin Islands Lottery as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0319, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Virgin Islands Labor Management Committee for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0320, an act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer Wastewater Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0321, an act providing an appropriation to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0322, an act providing an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, and the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0323, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0324, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0325, an act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Nurse Licensure for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0326, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles from the Transportation Trust Fund during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.
• Bill No. 34-0327, an act providing an appropriation for the sum of $6,000,000 from the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0328, an act amending Title 22, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Section 23.7(a)(3)(A) and title 33, chapter 111, section 3061 relating to the balance in the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $40,000,000 amount which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2022.
• Bill No. 34-0329, an act providing an appropriation from the Crisis Intervention Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0332, an act appropriating $570,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to complete repairs and construction at the Loredon Lorence Boynes, Sr. Dock on the island of St. John.

• Bill No. 34-0333, an act appropriating funds from the Virgin Islands Lottery in Fiscal Year 2022 to the Government Employees Retirement System for bonus pay shortfalls from Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022.

• Bill No. 34-0334, an act appropriating funds from the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2022 to the University of the Virgin Islands for the purpose of paying retroactive merit increases to employees who separated from the University during the period of January 1, 1992, through December 31, 1998.

• Bill No. 34-0335, an act reconciling Act Nos. 8474 and 8590 and making various appropriations available until September 30, 2023.; making a correction to Act No. 8578; amending Act No. 8496 appropriating additional funds to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority; amending Act No. 8476 regarding the Fiscal Year 2022 budget of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands; amending Title 33, Virgin Islands Code, Subtitle 3, Chapter 111, section 3100u to rename the Centennial Special Fund as the Virgin Islands Historical Commemorative Fund and appropriating $1,000,000 from the Communities Facilities Trust Fund to the Virgin Islands Historical Commemorative Fund to fund preparations for the 175th anniversary celebration of emancipation in the Virgin Islands and for other related purposes.

• Bill No. 34-0336, an act amending Title 18, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 7, Section 158 to increase the compensation of election officers and clerks.

• Bill No. 34-0337, an act appropriating the sum of $679,250 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to be used for the resurfacing of the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier Facility.

• Bill No. 34-0339, an act authorizing the Department of Property and Procurement to set aside a portion of Parcel F, Submarine Base No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for the Office of Veterans Affairs for the construction of a veterans’ multipurpose center and appropriating a total of $1,500,000 for construction completion.

• Bill No. 34-0294, an act amending Act 8474 to adjust the Fiscal Year 2022 budget to appropriate funds to U.S.V.I. Soccer Federation, Inc., as a grant for additional improvements to the professional soccer field at Plot 23.-I Estate Bethlehem St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to add coverings for the bleachers and a new parking lot and requires the U.S.V.I. Soccer Federation, Inc., to submit a comprehensive development plan for soccer in the Virgin Islands to the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation and the Department of Property and Procurement for approval prior to commencing the project.

• Bill No. 34-0342, an act approving the Fourth Renewal Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Health Insurance; the Fourth Renewal of Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Dental Insurance; the Fourth Amendment to the Agreement for Group Medical Health Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, and United Healthcare Insurance Company for post 65 retirees; the Third Renewal of Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Standard Insurance Company for Group Vision Insurance; the Second Renewal of Agreement for Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands Standard Insurance Company; and the First Renewal Agreement for Voluntary (employee-paid) Critical illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Life Insurance Company of North America.

• Bill No. 34-0340, an act appropriating $5,000,000 to the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation to fund the completion of the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack on the island of St. Croix.

• Bill No. 34-0341, an act amending Act 8244, Act 8473, and Act 8489 by reducing or deleting a total of $24,000,000 in prior appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022 to allow for debt service payments.

Senators present at today’s legislative session included Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. Degraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Alma Francis Heyliger, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Kenneth L. Gittens, Javan E. James, Sr., Franklin D. Johnson, Carla J. Joseph, Milton E. Potter, Janelle K.f Sarauw, and Genevieve R. Whitaker. Senator Kurt Vialet was excused.