St. CroixÃ¢Ë†â€™The Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection, chaired by Senator Carla J. Joseph, met Friday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix.
The Committee considered several resolutions, the importation of snakes and invasive species, and the Veteran’s Affairs operations.
Bill No.34-0063-A resolution honoring and commending St. Clair Alphonso “Whadablee” DeSilvia for his invaluable contribution to the continued development of Calypso music in the Virgin Islands. The measure is sponsored by Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff, Genevieve R. Whitaker, and Franklin D. Johnson.
According to the resolution, “Whadablee” has retired from Calypso competitions. His passion for music remains; thus, he regularly volunteers his music talent and services to many organizations, public school programs, and for worthy causes as the islandsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ festival celebrations.
It added that he continues to serve his community in a significant way by presenting the youth of the Virgin Islands with positive opportunities for self-expression through music as a Pan instructor for several youth orchestras. He was born on the island of Antigua in the city of St. John on July 3, 1958.
The Legislature of the Virgin Islands, on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, honors St. Clair Alphonso “Whadablee” DeSilvia for his outstanding and dedicated contribution in the field of music and his many other contributions to the Virgin Islands. The Bill was voted out of the Committee and sent to the Rules and Judiciary Community for further consideration.
The next item on the agenda was Bill No.34-0064 which is an Act honoring and commending Athneil C. “Addie” Ottley for his tireless years of informing and educating the public on current and past community issues and by keeping the radio waves open in times of imminent danger in the community, and for naming a roadway in his honor. Senators DeGraff and Genevieve R. Whitaker sponsored the measure.
According to the resolution, Addie and his family, along with other investors, formed a corporation titled: Ottley Communications Corporation” and bought the WSTA Radio Station 1340 AM. A year later, it boosted its power to 1000 watts of stereo power. In addition to his professional interest, Addie is actively involved in a broad spectrum of community projects and preserving Virgin Islands culture.
The resolution called for $5,000 in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, from the District Public Fund to the Department of Public Works to be used for the erection of signage required by this Act. The Bill received favorable votes and was sent to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.
Bill No.34-0085-An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code relating to the importation of snakes and invasive species, increasing the fine for the unauthorized importation of snakes, and making technical amendments relating to the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund.
The Bill also extends the use of the fund to regulate the importation and control of non-indigenous evasive species and amending the specific section relating to the prevention of the introduction of contagious animals to provide that the quarantine of animals is at the owner’s expense. Senator Javan E. James, Sr., sponsored the measure.
Senator James, Sr. also sought to amend the Virgin Islands Code by making technical amendments by increasing the fine from $500 to $10,000.00 for importing a snake without prior written permission and for importing evasive species into the Territory, and by requiring that all funds collected be used to assist with the regulation of the importation and the control of the population growth of elusive species. He added that if an animal is brought into the Territory without a valid veterinary certificate, it is the owner’s responsibility to pay for any expenses to quarantine the animal until a valid certificate of veterinary inspection is issued.
Testifying on the Bill were Positive T.A. Nelson, Commissioner, V.I. Department of Agriculture (VIDA), William Coles, Ph.D., and Dr. Nicole Angeli, Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
Nelson said VIDA generally is in support of Bill No.34-0085. It is in good faith and intended to protect our citizens and environment from invasive animals and plants. We have some concerns about the increase in price and the agency responsible for its enforceability.
Dr. Coles said, With the recent increase in dangerous and invasive species being found in and brought to the USVI, there was increased interest in clarifying and updating the VI Code sections about those topics. One of the first issues was to increase the fine for the unpermitted import of non-native species. He added that other sections of the code refer to penalties of up to $10,000 instead of $500, which brings the VI Code into compliance with itself.
Dr. Angeli said she would like to begin by stating that DPNR fully supports the measure’s intent. The U.S. Virgin Islands has a significant problem with the introduction of nuisance and invasive species. She added that this problem begins with importing non-indigenous species into the Territory through the pet trade and cargo.
The Bill received favorable votes and was sent to the Rules and Judiciary Committee for further consideration.
The Committee received testimony on the Virgin Islands Veteran’s Affairs operations to include but not limited to enabling law and jurisdiction, current agency challenges, and plan of action to resolve challenges.
Patrick Farrell, the Director, Virgin Islands Veterans Affairs, said some of their notable venture raging from the later part of the last fiscal year to date include (1) successfully advocating for COVID-19 vaccinations to be administered in the Territory by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.; and (2) Completed the renovation and redesignation of the Eryle Alric Rohlsen Veterans Affairs Building in Estate Richmond on St. Croix
He added that one of his future goal is to implement a transportation benefit for disabled veterans who cannot get in V.A. appointments. They intend to name their St. Thomas Office in honor of well-deserving veterans.
Committee members at Friday’s meeting were Chair Senator Carla J. Joseph, Marvin A. Blyden, Alma Francis Heyliger, Javan E. James, Sr., Franklin D. Johnson, Milton E. Potter, and Novelle E. Francis, Jr.
The 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands’ Committee on Rules and Judiciary, chaired by Diane T. Capehart, met in the Frits E. Lawaetz Conference Room. Lawmakers considered nominations, legislative measures, and resolutions. Approved items on Thursday’s agenda will...