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HomeNewsArchivesREVISED GET-TOUGH GUN BILL CLEARS SENATE

REVISED GET-TOUGH GUN BILL CLEARS SENATE

Dec. 11, 2001 – With a chock full agenda, the Legislature embarked Tuesday on what had been billed as a two-day session — but Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd announced that it would be one-day marathon instead.
In the morning, the senators approved Sen. Emmett Hansen II's gun control bill and, to the surprise to no one, overrode several of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's vetoes of Dec. 1.
Majority leader Celestino A. White Sr. introduced legislation to rezone Estate Botany Bay from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to R-3 (Residential -Medium Density). In a Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, White had announced he would be proposing legislation, but he didn't say if it would call for the rezoning requested by the developers or a variance, which many at the meeting supported.
The measure was to be heard in the afternoon/evening session. If approved, the zoning change would allow Botany Bay Partners to move forward with plans for a $165 million resort on the western end of St. Thomas.
Hansen's gun control bill was passed earlier this year in another form but then vetoed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull because of property forfeiture provisions he called "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 unlicenced 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 and maintaining police equipment for crime fighting and for training.
Sen. Carlton Dowe added an unrelated amendment to the bill to create nine positions in the Finance Department exclusively to collect delinquent property taxes, with the positions to be funded with $275,511 from the General Fund. The amendment requires the Finance Department to submit quarterly reports to the Legislature on the collections.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen added another amendment, to appropriate $150,000 from the General Fund to the Education Department for the Beacon Schools afterschool program on St. Croix.
The bill as amended passed on a 11-4 vote, with Sens. Adelbert Bryan, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and Norma Pickard-Samuel casting the "no" votes.
A bill by Sen. Lorraine Berry to name a garden in front of Government House on St. Thomas in honor of Agnes Agatha Schuster-King, widow of the late Gov. Cyril E. King, was amended by Bryan to name the plot "First Ladies' Garden." Berry noted that nobody had objected to naming the garden for Schuster-King the Rules Committee. She said the intended honoree had contributed landscaping and beautification efforts on government properties including the Government Houses on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The bill passed as amended.
The senators approved a resolution to honor godparents, with the first Friday in August each year designated as Godparents Day.
The veto overrides were to bills for the following:
– Appropriation of $700,000 from the Land Bank Fund to the V.I. Housing Authority for its Cistern and Slab Program and In House Home Mortgage Program.
– Appropriation of $150,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Fund for the St. Thomas East End Medical Center, to be reprogrammed to Project Hope.
– Establishment of a Labor Administration and Training Fund from a surcharge of 0.1 percent of the taxable wages paid by employers.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg moved to override the governor's veto of a bill calling for the Public Services Commission to extend its investigation of Innovative Telephone rates back to the time of the last investigation, but the motion lost on an 8-7 vote. A two-thirds majority, or 10 votes, is needed to override a veto. Voting for the measure with Donastorg were Sens. Roosevelt David, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Norman Jn. Baptiste, David Jones, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Celestino A. White Sr.
Items on the agenda for the afternoon meeting, with the session expected to go into Tuesday night, included:
– The Child Protection Act, setting stiffer penalties for aggravated rape.
– Transfer of responsibility for the territory's street lights from the Public Works Department to the Water and Power Authority.
– Licensure of naturopathic physicians.
– Appropriation of $5 million from the General Fund to Public Works for repair of sewage lines on St. Croix and of another $5 million to Juan F. Luis Hospital for operations and staffing.

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Dec. 11, 2001 - With a chock full agenda, the Legislature embarked Tuesday on what had been billed as a two-day session -- but Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd announced that it would be one-day marathon instead.
In the morning, the senators approved Sen. Emmett Hansen II's gun control bill and, to the surprise to no one, overrode several of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's vetoes of Dec. 1.
Majority leader Celestino A. White Sr. introduced legislation to rezone Estate Botany Bay from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to R-3 (Residential -Medium Density). In a Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, White had announced he would be proposing legislation, but he didn't say if it would call for the rezoning requested by the developers or a variance, which many at the meeting supported.
The measure was to be heard in the afternoon/evening session. If approved, the zoning change would allow Botany Bay Partners to move forward with plans for a $165 million resort on the western end of St. Thomas.
Hansen's gun control bill was passed earlier this year in another form but then vetoed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull because of property forfeiture provisions he called "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 unlicenced 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 and maintaining police equipment for crime fighting and for training.
Sen. Carlton Dowe added an unrelated amendment to the bill to create nine positions in the Finance Department exclusively to collect delinquent property taxes, with the positions to be funded with $275,511 from the General Fund. The amendment requires the Finance Department to submit quarterly reports to the Legislature on the collections.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen added another amendment, to appropriate $150,000 from the General Fund to the Education Department for the Beacon Schools afterschool program on St. Croix.
The bill as amended passed on a 11-4 vote, with Sens. Adelbert Bryan, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and Norma Pickard-Samuel casting the "no" votes.
A bill by Sen. Lorraine Berry to name a garden in front of Government House on St. Thomas in honor of Agnes Agatha Schuster-King, widow of the late Gov. Cyril E. King, was amended by Bryan to name the plot "First Ladies' Garden." Berry noted that nobody had objected to naming the garden for Schuster-King the Rules Committee. She said the intended honoree had contributed landscaping and beautification efforts on government properties including the Government Houses on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The bill passed as amended.
The senators approved a resolution to honor godparents, with the first Friday in August each year designated as Godparents Day.
The veto overrides were to bills for the following:
- Appropriation of $700,000 from the Land Bank Fund to the V.I. Housing Authority for its Cistern and Slab Program and In House Home Mortgage Program.
- Appropriation of $150,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Fund for the St. Thomas East End Medical Center, to be reprogrammed to Project Hope.
- Establishment of a Labor Administration and Training Fund from a surcharge of 0.1 percent of the taxable wages paid by employers.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg moved to override the governor's veto of a bill calling for the Public Services Commission to extend its investigation of Innovative Telephone rates back to the time of the last investigation, but the motion lost on an 8-7 vote. A two-thirds majority, or 10 votes, is needed to override a veto. Voting for the measure with Donastorg were Sens. Roosevelt David, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Norman Jn. Baptiste, David Jones, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Celestino A. White Sr.
Items on the agenda for the afternoon meeting, with the session expected to go into Tuesday night, included:
- The Child Protection Act, setting stiffer penalties for aggravated rape.
- Transfer of responsibility for the territory's street lights from the Public Works Department to the Water and Power Authority.
- Licensure of naturopathic physicians.
- Appropriation of $5 million from the General Fund to Public Works for repair of sewage lines on St. Croix and of another $5 million to Juan F. Luis Hospital for operations and staffing.