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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024


May 15, 2001 – In another marathon session concluding at 11:30 p.m. Monday, the 24th Legislature completed its scheduled agenda, threw in some veto overrides, and reintroduced other legislation Gov. Charles W. Turnbull had vetoed earlier this month.
Turnbull had said he would consider a bill to commit all excess revenues collected in Fiscal year 2001 to the Union Arbitration and Award Fund to pay for salary raises for government employees. However, he said he had no choice but to veto the measure sent to him by the Legislature, because it contained a controversial video lottery amendment. Sen. Celestino A. White Sr. introduced the measure anew Monday, and it passed with only two "no" votes, by Sens. Lorraine Berry and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg.
Also approved was another measure which Turnbull had said he would sign, were it not for an offending amendment — in this case one giving the Legislature a $1.5 million appropriation. The bill authorized Planning and Natural Resources Department enforcement officers to issue citations for fish and wildlife violations. Turnbull had said the Legislature's budget was adequate without the $1.5 million.
The Senate also overrode the governor's line-item veto of an amendment allowing taxi parking on King Street in front of Government House in Christiansted.
Two rezoning amendments sought for major tourism-related developments that had been strongly opposed by property owners at public hearings passed without much to-do. Both cleared by a vote of 13-1, with Donastorg the sole opponent and Sen. Emmett Hansen II absent and excused during the portion of the session when the votes were taken.
Sens. White, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and Almando "Rocky" Liburd sponsored the amendment to a bill to rezone land in Estate Bakkero, Frenchman's Bay Quarter, to allow Marriott Ownership Resorts Inc. to develop a 177-unit time-share resort.
The other rezoning amendment will allow Cabrita Point Development Inc. to build eight condominium buildings, a two-story conference center, a marina and a swimming pool on 5.6 acres of land in Estate Nazareth.
A measure to prohibit department and agency heads who require legislative confirmation from serving in an acting capacity for more than 90 days also passed, on a split between the majority and minority blocs, and the non-aligned Donastorg voting "no" with the minority.
The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Carlton Dowe, had specified 180 days, but that was amended in committee last week to 90 days by Alicia Hansen. Sens. David Jones, Roosevelt David and Berry said the Legislature had to assume some blame for the slow appointments. Berry said the manner in which the lawmakers treat nominees hinders the process of finding qualified leaders. (Attorney General Iver Stridiron voiced similar sentiments last week at a meeting. Prefacing his comment with "If I may be candid," he said many people simply aren't willing to appear before the Legislature to be grilled.)
A petition by the University of the Virgin Islands to acquire property by eminent domain, almost hit a big snag. But it was bailed out by an amendment by Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole restricting the eminent domain to the property in question which UVI currently wants to purchase. The five-acre tract is surrounded by 270 acres which the university already owns.
The bill passed 11-2, with Alicia Hansen and Sen. Bert Bryan casting the "no" votes, Jones abstaining and Emmett Hansen absent. Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel, who voted for the amended bill, said giving UVI carte blanche eminent domain rights could be dangerous. "They could go down Main Street, and say, 'Oh, I'd like this property for a classroom,' and take it," she said. Bryan said in a committee meeting last week that he would oppose UVI measures until they start naming buildings for native Virgin Islanders.
The Senate also passed bills to:
– Raise employer fines for willful violation of fair labor standards laws to $2,500 from $500. A non-germaine amendment tacked onto the bill would assist parents filing for damages in cases of death or injury to minor children.
– Allow a variance rather than a rezoning in Estate Bovoni to allow a mechanic shop to be built.
– Rezone an area in Estate Frydendahl to R-2 from R-1.
The senators also passed amendments to:
– Provide appropriations of $20,000 each to the St. Thomas and St. Croix 50 Plus Baseball Leagues.
– Allow businesses receiving government benefits to provide employees with additional leave time to attend sporting events.
– Give outright to the Bromley Berkley American Legion Post 133 on St. Croix a building it were seeking to lease. Pickard-Samuel objected to acting on the measure without a committee hearing. Samuel, Bryan and White voted "no."

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