ST. THOMAS — Senators who make up the 32nd Legislature met for what may be one of the body’s last sessions as election season takes hold and campaigning kicks into high gear, approving well over a dozen measures and giving the affirmative nod to two Horse Racing Commission nominees chosen by Governor Kenneth Mapp for the St. Croix District, along with one individual for the St. Thomas-St. John District.
Among the measures approved was Bill No. 32-0237- An Act amending Title 3 V.I. Code, Chapter 25, Subchapter V, Section 555b to provide for minimum wage for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands and its semi-autonomous agencies and independent instrumentalities.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the legislation is selfsame with an executive order Mr. Mapp issued raising the base pay and minimum wage of government employees. Senators, however, said their measure would assure that Mr. Mapp does not revoke the executive order once the election season is over. The governor has never indicated he would take such action, and has said the funds to cover the increases were already provided for in the budget, and new dollars spurred by economic growth in the construction industry, along with the opening of the oil refinery on St. Croix through the Limetree Bay Terminals agreement, would ensure sustainability.
Even so, lawmakers said they were taking no chances.
“This bill ensures that the executive order is made into law even after the election is over,” said Senator Alicia Hansen.
“This bill prevents the governor from issuing an executive order to revoke the salary increases,” said Senator Tregenza Roach. Both Mr. Roach and Mrs. Hansen are seeking elected office in this year’s gubernatorial race.
Senators also approved Bill No. 32-0119, which amends title 33 V.I. Code, chapter 81, section 2301 (e) by slashing in half the property tax base rate for senior citizens, people with disabilities and veterans from $360 to $180.
Relative to the Racing Commission nominees, lawmakers approved three of four — Henry Schjang and Ronald Phillips for the District of St. Croix, and Sheldon Turnbull for the St. Thomas-St. John District.
The nomination of Dr. Laura Palminteri for the STT-STJ District was sent back to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further vetting. “Dr. Palminteri must decide because if she serves on the Commission, she will not be permitted to continue working as an equine veterinarian,” said Senator Kurt Vialet.
Lawmakers also approved the following bills:
Bill No. 32-0173 – A Resolution honoring and commending The Family Resource Center for its services to victims and families in the U.S. Virgin Islands throughout the years
Bill No. 32-0249 – An Act Ratifying Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ29-16-W issued to Low Key Watersports, Inc Bill No. 32-0250 – An Act Ratifying Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ14-16(W) to the Brent Squire Revocable Trust c/o Brent Squires, Trustee
Bill No. 32-0251 – An Act ratifying the Governor’s approval of Major Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ-214(W) issued by the St. John Committee of the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Commission to the Joseph John Marcus Trust
Bill No. 32-0254 – An Act ratifying the Governor’s approval of Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZJ-24-16W issued to Pillsbury Sound Land Company, Inc
Bill No. 32-0242 – An Act to amend Official Zoning District Map STZ-7 to allow for the rezoning of Parcel No. 48 Estate Thomas, No. 6A New Quarter, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands from R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two Family) to B-1 (Business-Central Business District)
Bill No. 32-0253 – An Act granting a use variance to Parcel No. 105 Remainder Estate Bolongo Bay, No. 3 Frenchman Bay Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to convert the variance granted for a bowling alley to a use variance for office and incidental storage use
Bill No. 32-0185 – An Act amending Title 23 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10 Section 1005 relating to the Governor of the Virgin Islands and emergencies and major disasters
Bill No. 32-0232 – An Act amending Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 21, Section 514 and adding Chapter 22 relating to life and health reinsurance agreements
Bill No. 32-0233 – An Act amending Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code adding Chapter 26 to provide for Annual Audit and Financial Reporting to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to update the Insurance Laws of the Territory placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions to give greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the territory; and repealing Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code, Section 222a
Bill No. 32-0234 – An Act amending Chapter 43 of Title 22 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a subchapter II enacting the Property and Casualty Actuarial Opinion Act to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in its model laws to update the Insurance Laws of the territory
Bill No. 32-0244 – An Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 1, Subchapter VII, Section 161 relating to the practice of optometry
Bill No. 32-0245 – An Act amending Title 19 Virgin Islands Code, part II, Chapter 15, Section 221 to define urgent care facilities and stand-alone facilities and Section 223 to exempt urgent care facilities from the requirement of getting a certificate of need and mandating that these entities must accept MAP, Medicare and uninsured patients
Bill No. 32-0257 – Quitclaim Deed from the Commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands to Cyril LaPlace as Trustee of the Cyril A. La Place Trust for the following properties: Parcel No. 11-B Estate Dorothea, No. 6 Little Northside Quarter St. Thomas, Virgin Islands consisting of approximately 230 square feet more or less as illustrated on OLG NO. D9-9141-T016 dated March 14, 2016.
Bill No. 32-0258-An Act providing for the extension of the limitations period to file a claim under title 22 V.I. Code, chapter 33, section 820, subsection (a) paragraph (3) Hurricanes Irma and Maria and amending title 22 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 33, section 820, subsection (a) paragraph (3) to provide for a two-year limitation period for loss occurring as a result of an emergency or major disaster
Bill No. 32-0238-An Act amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 27, section 715, subsection (b) paragraph (7) to require the Government Retirement System to seek the Legislature’s approval before implementation of any policy that impacts the member’s benefits
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