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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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SENATE REDUCTION TAKES BIG STEP FORWARD

Virgin Islands voters will decide next November whether they want to reduce the size of their Senate.
Government House announced Tuesday that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved legislation authorizing a referendum on the question as part of the Nov. 7 general election.
The governor's signature raises the possibility that on the first Tuesday in November, voters will for the last time select 15 senators to form the next legislature. But for that to happen, the U.S. Congress first must amend the Virgin Islands Organic Act to authorize a reduction in the local Senate membership.
According to a spokesperson for Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, author of the legislation, the referendum will ask voters whether the number of legislators should be reduced and, if so, to 11 or nine senators.
If residents vote for 11 members, a future Senate would be comprised of a senator-at-Large, five members representing St. Thomas/St. John, and five representing St. Croix. If residents want their Senate to reduce itself to nine members, there would be the senator-at Large, four members representing St. Thomas/St. John and four representing St. Croix.
However, Donastorg's legislation, which he successfully tacked on to an appropriation bill as an amendment, does not call for any change in the way the Senate will be elected. As is the case now, the senator-at-Large must be a resident of St. John and will be elected by all Virgin Islands voters. The other senators will be selected by all the voters on their respective islands, either St. Thomas/St. John or St. Croix.
During the past decade there have been calls to elect senators in other ways, such as numbered districts to ensure two or three candidate races, geographical districts within islands, stipulating that the entire Senate be elected by all voters, or variations on those themes.
According to Donastorg's legislation, if the Nov. 7 referendum results call for a reduction in Senate size, the Legislature must petition the U.S. Congress to amend the Organic Act.
Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen — assuming she is re-elected this November — presumably would lead the lobbying in Congress.
But a happy Donastorg told the Source he talked last week to Rep. Don Young, the Alaskan Republican who chairs the House Resources Committee, and hoped Young will help.
An effort two years ago to amend the Organic Act for the same purpose never made it to the floor of the House. But Donastorg prophesied that the next time Congress would know the feelings of the Virgin Islands people and would act accordingly.
Political experts said the Congress taking office next January would have about 15 months to amend the Organic Act in order for the local government to establish new election procedures and for prospective candidates to make their decisions about running in November of 2002. Othewise, the change might not take place until 2004.
Donastorg told the Source that if Congress amends the Organic Act he will introduce legislation here to cut the Senate's budget to conform to the new membership level.

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Virgin Islands voters will decide next November whether they want to reduce the size of their Senate.
Government House announced Tuesday that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull approved legislation authorizing a referendum on the question as part of the Nov. 7 general election.
The governor's signature raises the possibility that on the first Tuesday in November, voters will for the last time select 15 senators to form the next legislature. But for that to happen, the U.S. Congress first must amend the Virgin Islands Organic Act to authorize a reduction in the local Senate membership.
According to a spokesperson for Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, author of the legislation, the referendum will ask voters whether the number of legislators should be reduced and, if so, to 11 or nine senators.
If residents vote for 11 members, a future Senate would be comprised of a senator-at-Large, five members representing St. Thomas/St. John, and five representing St. Croix. If residents want their Senate to reduce itself to nine members, there would be the senator-at Large, four members representing St. Thomas/St. John and four representing St. Croix.
However, Donastorg's legislation, which he successfully tacked on to an appropriation bill as an amendment, does not call for any change in the way the Senate will be elected. As is the case now, the senator-at-Large must be a resident of St. John and will be elected by all Virgin Islands voters. The other senators will be selected by all the voters on their respective islands, either St. Thomas/St. John or St. Croix.
During the past decade there have been calls to elect senators in other ways, such as numbered districts to ensure two or three candidate races, geographical districts within islands, stipulating that the entire Senate be elected by all voters, or variations on those themes.
According to Donastorg's legislation, if the Nov. 7 referendum results call for a reduction in Senate size, the Legislature must petition the U.S. Congress to amend the Organic Act.
Congressional Delegate Donna Christensen -- assuming she is re-elected this November -- presumably would lead the lobbying in Congress.
But a happy Donastorg told the Source he talked last week to Rep. Don Young, the Alaskan Republican who chairs the House Resources Committee, and hoped Young will help.
An effort two years ago to amend the Organic Act for the same purpose never made it to the floor of the House. But Donastorg prophesied that the next time Congress would know the feelings of the Virgin Islands people and would act accordingly.
Political experts said the Congress taking office next January would have about 15 months to amend the Organic Act in order for the local government to establish new election procedures and for prospective candidates to make their decisions about running in November of 2002. Othewise, the change might not take place until 2004.
Donastorg told the Source that if Congress amends the Organic Act he will introduce legislation here to cut the Senate's budget to conform to the new membership level.