The Senate overrode the governor's veto Monday to enact a law exempting all noise on weekends until 3 a.m. and all noise from Carnival and Festival celebrations from the territory's 2010 noise pollution law.
Proponents of the measure argued it was necessary to ensure the profitability and continued success of the territory's Carnival and Festival celebrations.
Senators had narrowed the scope of exemptions before the bill's initial passage, eliminating exemptions for an array of holidays but kept the broad exemption for weekends before 3 a.m.
DeJongh wrote at the time that he vetoed the bill because it was so over-broad as to amount to “a complete gutting of the noise pollution control effort in the territory," because the measure, sponsored by Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, would permit "unlimited noise on any weekend of the year until 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and even Monday morning if that day happened to be a holiday."
The senate also overrode deJongh's veto to enact the Native Aquatic Species Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly. Aimed largely at the invasive Pacific lionfish, the law mandates the creation of a special committee to work out the most effective responses and to establish rules and regulations.
It also seeks to appropriate $150,000 from the Fish and Wildlife Fund to cover the expenses of setting up the committee and forming the plan. The Fish and Wildlife Fund contains all license and other fees paid by V.I. fishermen to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and is reserved by law solely to administer fish and wildlife restoration programs.
When he vetoed the measure, deJongh said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services had objected to diversion of the funds, and that the change could put some federal funding at risk, so he was vetoing it "in an abundance of caution" and urged the Senate to find another funding source.
The Senate also overrode deJongh's veto to enact legislation designed to increase government transparency by directing executive branch agencies to post their financial reports online. DeJongh had objected that the law has too short a time period for implementation, no funding and only called for increased transparency in one branch of government.
As a result of another veto override Monday, the Public Services Commission will have authority to regulate billing disputes at the V.I. Water and Power Authority. And the director of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will have greater authority to enact driving and licensing regulations, with the governor's approval, thanks to another override.
And horse track gambling tax revenues will be divided a little differently, with less of the revenues (34.5 percent instead of 45.5 percent) going to the General Fund, and slightly more to the V.I. Horse Racing Commission (increased from 2 percent to 5 percent of revenues) and to the V.I. Olympic Committee (increased 2 percent to 10 percent of revenues).
The Senate also approved two leases and several zoning variances, spot rezonings and easements on Monday. It approved a $1,400 per month lease agreement with Petru Gas Corporation in Subbase, St. Thomas, to develop an above-ground gasoline storage site with two 20,000-gallon storage tanks; and a lease with the USVI Soccer Federation for 12 acres in Estate Bethlehem on St. Croix at $900 per month to use for soccer games and concessions.
Villa Botanica in Estate Crown and Hawk's received a limited zoning variance to open a gift shop and serve food at weddings and other functions. The variance imposes strict limits on parking and requires all operations to cease by 10 p.m.
The Senate also approved resolutions honoring civic activist George Flores of St. Croix and culture bearer Gloria Joseph of St. Thomas.