ST. THOMAS- Members of the 33rd Legislature led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. convened in an Emergency Legislative Session at the Capitol Building on Friday and voted favorably for several measures related to or affected by the COVID-19, or coronavirus pandemic. Items will be forwarded to Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. for further consideration.
Senate President Francis commended his colleagues for their efforts to fulfill their obligations as election officials in the midst of a global pandemic. “I take full responsibility for this institution and I take it seriously. I am not careless but cautious I appreciate that all members of the Body came together to do the work necessary to support the Executive Branch and the Delegate to Congress in wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Sen. Francis said. Similarly, Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw noted that the Body worked diligently to ensure the functionality of the Government of the Virgin Islands amid the global health crisis. “The ultimate measure of a man is not when he is in comfort but when times are challenging. We have been called to lead despite the challenges and the controversy. Today is a result of days spent in teleconference calls. Every day this Body hit the pavement until we came to a consensus.”
Lawmakers voted and approved the following:
- Bill No. 33-0288- A Resolution to Congress to include the Virgin Islands in COVID-19 stimulus packages.
- Bill No. 33-0287- An Act authorizing the Governor to borrow monies from public funds of the Virgin Islands to offset cash flow problems caused by shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic in the collection of revenues, and to create working capital, avoid layoffs of Government employees, pay essential obligations and meet the operating expenses of the Government for Fiscal Year 2020.
- Bill No. 33-0278- An Act amending Act No. 8178 clarifying and adding additional provisions to enable the closing on the disaster recovery funding-based line of credit.
- Bill No. 33-0290- An Act amending Title 30, Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, subchapter V, section 127 by reducing the amount of time that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority can back-bill customers, and by defining the “billing cycle.”
- Bill No. 33-0289- An Act amending Title 27, chapter 1 of the Virgin Islands Code relating to the Board of Medical Examiners by including Doctors of Podiatric Medicine as physicians allowed to supervise physician assistants in their respective practice.
Separately, senators voted favorably for the nominees recommended by the governor to serve on various Boards. The nominations were sent by the Governor of the Virgin Islands by the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and Title 3, Section 65a of the Virgin Islands Code.
- Denise M. Francois Judge, Superior Court of the Virgin Islands
- Celestino A. White, Sr. V.I. Port Authority Governing Board District of St. Thomas/St. John
- Willard John Virgin Islands Port Authority Governing Board District of St. Croix
- Dr. Jerry Smith, PT V.I. Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corporation Virgin Islands Board of Physical Therapy District of St. Thomas/St. John
Policymakers voted to remove from the agenda: Bill No. 33-0291- An Act requiring the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority to suspend electric and water service disconnections for non-payment until June 01, 2020, or until the State of Emergency declared by the Governor on March 13, 2020, is lifted, whichever date comes first.
Senators present are Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Donna Frett-Gregory, Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, Oakland Benta, Marvin A. Blyden, Janelle K. Sarauw, Dwayne DeGraff, Kenneth L. Gittens, Stedmann Hodge, Jr., Kurt Vialet and Javan E. James, Sr. ###