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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 18, 2024


The Senate Government Operations Committee held several bills Monday in order to get more information.
Senators held a proposal to authorize the Taxicab Commission to institute penalties and fines for the late payment of taxi license fees and to increase taxi license fees overall.
The proposal would hike fees by $100 to $200. Drivers on St. Croix questioned the increase because of the small number of cruise ships that call, especially during the slow summer season. They argued that St. Thomas, with its high number of visits, should pay a different amount than St. Croix.
The committee voted to hold the bill until the V.I. Taxi Federation returns with a recommendation on where a taxi stand will be located in Christiansted. Taxis have been working off of Church Street during the two-year renovation of Government House. Drivers want to move back to the King Street area now that construction work is complete. However, a task force made up of drivers, the National Park Service and downtown merchants is looking into a new location for taxis to operate.
A bill to enact the Public Employees Early Retirement Incentive Act of 2000 was also tabled until its authors, Sens. Donald "Ducks" Coles and Almando "Rocky" Liburd, work out details with the Government Employees Retirement System.
Coles said an actuary study needs to be done before the bill can be passed.
"It’s time to sit with GERS. We didn’t have time to do that" before the committee meeting, Coles said. "We’re not going to pass legislation that doesn’t have an actuary study to show the impact…"
An effort by Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg to stiffen animal-abuse laws was also held in committee until recommendations from the V.I. Attorney General’s Office can be integrated into the bill. The proposal would make willful neglect or abuse of pets, livestock or wild animals a felony subject to fines and possibly jail time.
"Abuse of animals is a serious crime," Donastorg said in a release following the committee meeting. "Study after study demonstrates that animal cruelty is often the first symptom of abusive and criminal behavior. My legislation helps ensure that the violence stops there."
Finally, a proposal to petition Congress to amend the Revised Organic Act of 1954 to allow legislative sessions to be held on St. Croix died because of a lack of support.
The bills that were held will be on the agenda of the committee's next meeting. If approved then, they will move to the Rules Committee before going to the full Senate for a final vote.

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