ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Sen. Milton Potter, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, and voted favorably on several measures including a bill that seeks to clarify the limitation on the amount of governmental or quasi-governmental boards and commissions on which Commissioners and Directors of the Virgin Islands Government can serve. All approved items on the agenda will be forwarded to the Full Body for further consideration.
Policymakers voted and approved: Bill No. 34-0005- An Act amending Title 3 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 5, subchapter 1, section 65a, subsections (c), (d), and (e) relating to filling vacancies on boards and commissions to clarify the limitation on the number of governmental or quasi-governmental boards and commissions on which commissioners and directors of the Virgin Islands Government can serve, while serving on the board or commission of any autonomous or semi-autonomous agency; and for other related purposes.
Collectively, committee members were in support of the measure. Sen. Potter indicated that it is wise to offer alternative appointees as a substitute although they are assigned based on subject matter expertise. Concurringly, the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory stated there are challenges when commissioners come before the Legislature of the Virgin Islands and it seems as though they are disconnected. A lot of it has to do with the added responsibility of serving on numerous boards and commissions. Equally, in favor of the bill, Karl Knight, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Governor noted that granting a sitting governor some measure of discretion in how to best deploy his Cabinet-level personnel in their fiduciary roles ultimately serves the best interest of the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Separately, senators received testimony, voted, and approved two measures seeking to develop a minimum criterion for the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission (PSC) and the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board (WAPA). Invited testifiers were officials from the PSC, WAPA, and the WAPA Governing Board. Standing in support of Bill 34-0025, Donald Cole, Executive Director of PSC mentioned that the language of the measure is at the request of the Commission, which has urged the updating and reform for many years. However, Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the WAPA Governing Board stated that Bill No. 34-0026 will become more of a stumbling block than a solution if the legislation is enacted. Thomas stated that the Authority has made enormous progress since September 2017.
- Bill 34-0025- An act amending Title 3, Chapter 16, Section 273 of the Virgin Islands Code by establishing minimum criteria for Public Services Commission members and changing the number of its members. The measure seeks to reduce the 7 voting members to 5 and reduce the quorum requirement from 4 to 3 members. Sponsored by Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw
- Bill 34-0026- An act amending Title 30, Chapter 5, subchapter II, section 103 relating to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority to establish minimum criteria for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board and changing the number of its members; and amending section 104(b) to change the number of members of the Governing Board constituting a quorum from five to four. Sponsored by Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw
- Consequently, lawmakers voted with a favorable recommendation for the following:
- Bill No. 34-0014- An Act appropriating $1,600,000 from the Communities Facilities Trust Account for the four community facilities projects on St. Croix, Virgin Islands including the projects of the pier at King’s Alley Hotel in Christiansted, the dock at Gallows Bay Marine Facility and the roll-on roll-off ramp at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier at Krause Lagoon. Sponsored by Sen. Donna A. Frett- Gregory, by request of the Governor. Co-Sponsored by Senators Samuel Carrión and Genevieve Whitaker
- Bill No. 34-0020- An Act appropriating $675,000 from the Community Facility Trust Fund to the Caribbean Drag Racing Association for restoration of facilities at the St. Croix Motor Sports Complex, making an appropriation and for other related purposes. Sponsored by Sen. Kurt A. Vialet and Samuel Carrión. Co-Sponsored by Senators Novelle Francis, Jr. and Javan James, Sr.
- Bill No. 34-0024- An Act amending Act No. 8365, relating to the fiscal year 2021 operating budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands to appropriate $3,533,333.34 to the Department of Justice to pay the settlement agreement of Joe Harold d/b/a Vanterpool Enterprises v. Government of the Virgin Islands, to appropriate $2,000,000 to the Department of Labor for the payment of outstanding Worker’s Compensation payments to medical providers to appropriate $40,000 to Clean Sweep Frederiksted for the beautification of the town of Frederiksted; and amending Act No. 8411 to increase the Grand Total General Fund appropriations. Sponsored by Senators Kurt A. Vialet, Donna Frett-Gregory, and Janelle Sarauw. Co-Sponsored by Senator Samuel Carrión
- Bill No. 34-0003- An Act amending Title 29 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, subchapter I, section 235(c) relating to the period within which the Zoning Administrator must act on a building permit application submitted to the Department of Planning Natural Resources to set time limits; requiring the Department to implement an Electronic Permitting System; amending chapter 5 section 296 relating to fees and fines for building permits to require that three (3) percent of the fees collected under that section be deposited into the Department’s Reclamation Fund for maintaining the electric permitting system; and amending title 12, section 911(f)(4) relating to the Natural Resources Reclamation Fund to include three (3) percent of the fees collected in 29 V.I.C. 296 as a funding source for the Natural Resources Reclamation Fund. Sponsored by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory. Co-Sponsored by Senators Samuel Carrión and Genevieve Whitaker
- Bill No. 34-0013- An act appropriating $2,050,000.00 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for replacement of the existing, deteriorated tender landing pier and repairs at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Terminal in Frederiksted, St. Croix. Sponsored by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory
- Bill No. 34-0008- An Act appropriating $272,000 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for of the Police Athletic League Headquarters in Estate Whim, St. Croix. Sponsored by Senator Javan E. James
- Bill No. 34-0023 An Act amending Title 12 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a chapter 2A to establish the Invasive Species Eradication Community Program; establishing the Invasive Species Eradication Community Program Fund and an Imprest Account Fund for the payment of bounties under the Program; and appropriating $10,000 from the Animal Fund to the Invasive Species Eradication Community Program Fund. Sponsored by Senators Kenneth Gittens and Franklin Johnson
- However, the following was moved to the committee of jurisdiction: Bill No. 34-0004- An Act amending Title 33 Virgin Islands Code, subtitle 1, part 1, chapter 5, section 91 relating to the payment of fuel taxes to change the time for remittance of the tax to the Bureau of Internal Revenue; and section 94 relating to persons required to file returns on the fuel taxes and related products derived from the oil in the Virgin Islands. Sponsored by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory. Co-Sponsored by Senators Samuel Carrión and Genevieve Whitaker ###