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HomeNewsArchivesTOUGHER RAPE, GUN BILLS HEAD FOR SENATE FLOOR

TOUGHER RAPE, GUN BILLS HEAD FOR SENATE FLOOR

Dec. 6, 2001 – Two controversial bills that have been on the Senate circuit for months were approved by the Rules Committee Wednesday night and are expected to go before the full Senate next week: Sen. Lorraine Berry's Child Protection Act of 2001 and Sen. Emmett Hansen II's Gun Control Act of 2001.
Berry's bill would increase penalties for rape and abolish the three-year statute of limitation for filing rape charges. It expands the definition of statutory rape to include sex between a person 16 or 17 years old and someone at least five years older than the teen-ager if the two are not husband and wife.
In February, when the bill was first introduced, Attorney General Iver Stridiron objected to the provision then in the bill raising the age of consent to 18 from the current 16. He said that could send a teen-ager to jail for having sex with his girlfriend and could create unnecessary legal problems.
The bill is especially important, its supporters have said, in light of the increasing number of rapes of minors in the territory. It is a joint effort of several victim advocate groups, the Police and Justice Departments and the Human Services Department. With the new language, the bill was approved unanimously and will now go to the Rules Committee.
Voting were Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Carlton Dowe, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Almando "Rocky" Liburd and Celestino A. White Sr. Sens. Adelbert Bryan and Norma Pickard-Samuel were absent.
Hansen's gun control bill in an earlier form was passed by the Senate but then vetoed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who called one of its forfeiture provisions "draconian." The bill would have allowed government seizure of a home in cases where the owner was aware, or should have been aware, of illegal weapons being kept there. The governor said homeowners who were unaware of an illegal weapon on their property could stand to lose their home. He said once the forfeiture language was changed, as has now been done, he would approve the measure.
The bill dramatically increases the fines for bringing unlicensed firearms into the territory and for failing to report such actions to the Police commissioner as required by law. It mandates a fine of at least $50,000 or a minimum of 25 years in prison.
It also creates a Police Crime Fighting and Equipment Fund for the deposit of fines collected for firearms violations. Money deposited into the fund would go for purchasing equipment for crime fighting, maintaining Police Department equipment, and training.
The bill passed on a 4-1 vote. Sens. Cole, Dowe, Liburd and White voted for the measure. Alicia Hansen voted no. Sens. Bryan and Pickard-Samuel were absent.
A bill to establish the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park was removed from the agenda. Dowe, the Rules chair, said the bill had been forwarded improperly and should have remained in the Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee.
The Rules Committee also passed legislation on Wednesday to:
– Provide for the electronic registration for Selective Service of males 18 through 25 years old when they apply for a driver's license.
– Prevent an individual or business formerly affiliated with a dissolved business entity from establishing a new entity without providing proof that all outstanding tax obligations have been satisfied.
– Appropriate $ 3.7 million for the repair of sewage lines on St. Croix, $5 million for the operation and staffing of Juan F. Luis Hospital, and $3 million for repair of the Cyril E. King Airport lagoon water-treatment plant.
– Honor godparents and establish the first Friday in August as Godparents Day.
– Create a Virgin Islands Foreign Sales Corp., a notion not endorsed by members of the business community who say it would be too small to keep businesses in the territory. One FSC provider, speaking under the condition of anonymity, commented, "They should have done that years ago, and the FSC's wouldn't have all moved to Barbados."
– Name the garden in front of Government House on St. Thomas for Agnes Schuster-King, the widow of the late governor Cyril E. King.
– Establish penalties for making bomb threats or placing objects resembling bombs on school grounds and set a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for 20 years for detonating a bomb that causes fire damage to property.
– Provide for licensure of naturopathic physicians.
– Amend the Uniform Commercial Code to bring it into conformity with what is in effect in most states and territories.
The bills are expected to be on the Senate agenda when it meets in full session Tuesday Wednesday.

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Dec. 6, 2001 - Two controversial bills that have been on the Senate circuit for months were approved by the Rules Committee Wednesday night and are expected to go before the full Senate next week: Sen. Lorraine Berry's Child Protection Act of 2001 and Sen. Emmett Hansen II's Gun Control Act of 2001.
Berry's bill would increase penalties for rape and abolish the three-year statute of limitation for filing rape charges. It expands the definition of statutory rape to include sex between a person 16 or 17 years old and someone at least five years older than the teen-ager if the two are not husband and wife.
In February, when the bill was first introduced, Attorney General Iver Stridiron objected to the provision then in the bill raising the age of consent to 18 from the current 16. He said that could send a teen-ager to jail for having sex with his girlfriend and could create unnecessary legal problems.
The bill is especially important, its supporters have said, in light of the increasing number of rapes of minors in the territory. It is a joint effort of several victim advocate groups, the Police and Justice Departments and the Human Services Department. With the new language, the bill was approved unanimously and will now go to the Rules Committee.
Voting were Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Carlton Dowe, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Almando "Rocky" Liburd and Celestino A. White Sr. Sens. Adelbert Bryan and Norma Pickard-Samuel were absent.
Hansen's gun control bill in an earlier form was passed by the Senate but then vetoed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who called one of its forfeiture provisions "draconian." The bill would have allowed government seizure of a home in cases where the owner was aware, or should have been aware, of illegal weapons being kept there. The governor said homeowners who were unaware of an illegal weapon on their property could stand to lose their home. He said once the forfeiture language was changed, as has now been done, he would approve the measure.
The bill dramatically increases the fines for bringing unlicensed firearms into the territory and for failing to report such actions to the Police commissioner as required by law. It mandates a fine of at least $50,000 or a minimum of 25 years in prison.
It also creates a Police Crime Fighting and Equipment Fund for the deposit of fines collected for firearms violations. Money deposited into the fund would go for purchasing equipment for crime fighting, maintaining Police Department equipment, and training.
The bill passed on a 4-1 vote. Sens. Cole, Dowe, Liburd and White voted for the measure. Alicia Hansen voted no. Sens. Bryan and Pickard-Samuel were absent.
A bill to establish the University of the Virgin Islands Research and Technology Park was removed from the agenda. Dowe, the Rules chair, said the bill had been forwarded improperly and should have remained in the Economic Development, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Committee.
The Rules Committee also passed legislation on Wednesday to:
- Provide for the electronic registration for Selective Service of males 18 through 25 years old when they apply for a driver's license.
- Prevent an individual or business formerly affiliated with a dissolved business entity from establishing a new entity without providing proof that all outstanding tax obligations have been satisfied.
- Appropriate $ 3.7 million for the repair of sewage lines on St. Croix, $5 million for the operation and staffing of Juan F. Luis Hospital, and $3 million for repair of the Cyril E. King Airport lagoon water-treatment plant.
- Honor godparents and establish the first Friday in August as Godparents Day.
- Create a Virgin Islands Foreign Sales Corp., a notion not endorsed by members of the business community who say it would be too small to keep businesses in the territory. One FSC provider, speaking under the condition of anonymity, commented, "They should have done that years ago, and the FSC's wouldn't have all moved to Barbados."
- Name the garden in front of Government House on St. Thomas for Agnes Schuster-King, the widow of the late governor Cyril E. King.
- Establish penalties for making bomb threats or placing objects resembling bombs on school grounds and set a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for 20 years for detonating a bomb that causes fire damage to property.
- Provide for licensure of naturopathic physicians.
- Amend the Uniform Commercial Code to bring it into conformity with what is in effect in most states and territories.
The bills are expected to be on the Senate agenda when it meets in full session Tuesday Wednesday.