ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday and voted favorably for nominations of Enrique Rodriquez and Pamela Montegut to serve on the Virgin Islands Historic Preservation Commission in the St. Thomas-St. John District; and Dr. Noreen Michael, Ph.D. for the Virgin Islands Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (VIHA). The nominations were sent by the Governor by virtue of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and Title 3, Section 65a of the Virgin Islands Code. Senators also voted and approved several bills. All items will be forwarded to the Full Body for further vetting.
Nominee Rodriquez expressed a vested interest in the preservation of Charlotte Amalie and to create additional parking in town. Some of RodriquezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s accomplishments as President of the St. Thomas Historical Trust include obtaining non-profit status and identifying funding through Trust License plates. Nominee Montegut stated that her goal is to market Charlotte Amalie as a renowned historical tourism destination. Montegut mentioned that attracting new tourists with a love for history will bring the Virgin Islands into the same economic realm as historical cities such as Boston and Georgetown. Sen. Sarauw recommended that the nominees add to their agenda, streamlining the process for public access to use historical sites such as Fort Christian. Collectively, policymakers requested the nominees to address the challenges of derelict or abandoned buildings and to ensure the inclusion of the entire history of the Virgin Islands. Subsequently, Nominee Michael defended her re-nomination to VIHA Board of Commissioners vowing to continue to fulfill the mission of VIHA and to advocate for housing residents and persons on the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Previously, she served on the Board for six years.
Separately, lawmakers voted to hold in committee, two measures proposed by Sen. Alicia Barnes and Sen. Kenneth Gittens: Bill No. 33-0210- to establish a minimum criterion for the V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board (WAPA) and changing the number of its members; and Bill No. 33-0211- to develop a minimum criterion for the Public Services Commission (PSC) members and changing the number of its members. Sen. Barnes stated that selecting qualified individuals to serve on the Boards is the first step to addressing challenges plaguing WAPA and the PSC. Similarly, Sen. Gittens noted that the measures are one piece to the puzzle especially since WAPA seems to have a management problem. Conversely, Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the Governing Board of WAPA noted that the legislation is Ã¢â‚¬Å“attempting to fix a problem that does not exist.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Accordingly, senators voted and approved the following measures:
- Bill No. 33-0137- An Act authorizing the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research, the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the V.I. Economic Development Authority to create a plan to assist the U.S.V.I. in developing a sustainable blue economy within the Territory.
- Bill No. 33-0102- An Act amending Title 17, chapter 15, section 190u and 476 of the Virgin Islands Code by including graduates of the Adult Education Center among those eligible to receive scholarships as valedictorian and salutatorian.
- Ã‚Â Bill No. 33-0132- An Act amending Title 3, chapter 27, section 715 of the Virgin Islands Code to strengthen the Board of the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS) by requiring greater expertise among Board members.
- Ã‚Â Bill No. 33-0273- An Act amending Title 9, chapter 25 and Title 29 chapter 12 of the Virgin Islands Code relating to personnel hiring requirements for International Financial Service Entities to operate international financial services and to receive tax incentive benefits under the International Banking Center Regulatory Act and the Economic Development Program to amend the hiring requirements for receipt of tax incentive benefit.