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June 2024
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NOMINATION OF JAMILA CHRISTOPHER FAILED IN COMMITTEE, SENATORS APPROVED SEVERAL MEASURES  

Published: May 24, 2024

ST. CROIX- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Senator Diane T. Capehart, convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Conference Room. Lawmakers voted down the governor’s nomination. However, senators voted and approved several bills. These measures were thoroughly vetted in the committees of jurisdiction. All items on the agenda will be forwarded to the full body for further consideration.  

Lawmakers voted unfavorably for a nominee appointed by the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands to serve the community. Governor Albert Bryan forwarded the nomination to the Legislature in accordance with Title 3, Section 65a, of the Virgin Islands Code and Section 16 of the Revised Organic Act of 1954. The nomination is as follows: 

  • Jamila L. Christopher, Representative of the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, the Virgin Islands Cannabis Advisory Board 

Senator Capehart expressed dissatisfaction with Christopher’s inability to answer inquiries from lawmakers regarding the nomination. She noted that people should not come before the senate who are uninterested in serving in their appointed positions.  

Separately, senators voted in the affirmative for Bill No. 35-0121- An Act amending VI Code, increasing jury and witness fees and allowances, respectively. Bill No. 35-0121 An Act amending Virgin Islands Code, Title 4, chapter 29, section 482 and Title 5, subtitle I, part V, chapter 61, section 660 increasing jury and witness fees and allowances, respectively. Regina deChabert Petersen, Administrator of Courts, of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands stated that due to a rise in cases, there is an anticipation that such expenses could rise by 100% in FY 2025 with the proposed increase. The Judiciary’s budget proposal for FY 2025 will reflect this estimate. 

Separately, policymakers voted and approved: Bill No. 35-0174 An Act repealing and reenacting title 15, Virgin Islands Code, article V parts 1, 2, 3, 4, enacting part 5 and renumbering part 4A as part 6, to repeal the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act and enact the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act with amendments and for other related purposes. Regina deChabert Petersen, Administrator of Courts, of the Judicial Branch of the Virgin Islands indicated that before adoption, additional time is required for careful consideration and well-informed decision-making. One challenge is that the existing law will result in significant increases in the price of court-appointed attorneys and other judicial resources for required hearings. Citing page 258, Peterson noted that the Act itself with legislative comments is long and ambiguous.  

Separately, policymakers voted and approved the following: 

  • Bill No. 35-0030– An Act honoring and commending Vaughn Benjamin posthumously for his contributions to reggae music in the Virgin Islands and the global communities; appropriating $45,000 to the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation for the design and construction of the “Vaughn Benjamin Monument” and naming the waterfront park west of the Marley Homes “The Vaughn ‘Akae Beka’ Memorial Park.”  
  • Bill No. 35-0215– An Act amending Title 23 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 5, section 457, subsection (a), paragraph (3), relating to the contents of a firearm license to change the statement in the license increasing the term of the license from three years to five years. 
  • Bill No. 35-0238– An Act to confer peace officer status on qualified enforcement officers employed by the Government Employees Retirement System of the Virgin Islands. 

The following senators attended the meeting: Diane T. Capehart, Franklin D. Johnson, Angel Bolques, Jr., Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marise C. James, Marvin A. Blyden, and Milton E. Potter. 

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on legislative proceedings and other events at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. 

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