Jan. 7, 2004 – Legislation establishing a Waste Management Authority that was passed by the Senate on Dec. 17 has yet to make it up Government Hill to the governor's desk.
In the days following the bill's passage during the lawmakers' final session of 2003, Sen. Louis Hill, its sponsor, said he anticipated it would be on the governor's desk by Dec. 23. It's a measure Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has sought since early in his first term in office.
Bills passed by the Senate must be signed by the legislative secretary, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, and Senate President David Jones before being forwarded to the governor.
The Waste Management Authority bill sat on Malone's desk until Wednesday. Malone said he signed the measure on Dec. 23, but with the numerous government holidays it was held up. The bill was sent to St. Croix for Jones's signature on Wednesday. However, it met a new stumbling block and had to be returned to St. Thomas for clerical changes.
Malone was one of six senators voting against the legislation on the Senate floor and issued a release critical of it two days later. He said on Wednesday afternoon: "The bill is in my office now and will be on St. Croix tomorrow, and then to Government House tomorrow."
After incessant fall meetings and delays that culminated in approval on Dec. 17 of the fiscal year 2004 budget bills — doomed to be vetoed by the governor on Dec. 23 — the Senate is getting off to a slow start for the new year. So far, no meetings have been announced for 2004.
Malone, who chairs the Government Operations Committee, said he plans to concentrate on hearings concerning the calling of a fifth constitutional convention — something that, like a Waste Management Authority, has been under discussion for a long, long time.
Along with the legislation creating a Waste Management Authority, also expected to reach the governor on Thursday are bills to:
– Create a 90-day amnesty program within the Labor Department for employers who failed to file Unemployment Insurance Program reports.
– Amend the V.I. Code to bring it into compliance with federal law prohibiting age discrimination in hiring practices.
– Reduce the number of hours of community service required of high school students for graduation to 100 from the current 500.
– Make Territorial Court the final arbiter on decisions of the Board of Education.
– Declare quelbe the official traditional music of the Virgin Islands. Also called scratch band music, quelbe is an indigenous, grass-roots style that originated in the Danish West Indies more than a century ago. It came to be known as "scratch" music because the musicians were free to "play" anything they could scratch up and make sound with — including brake drums and exhaust pipes. Jamesie and the Happy Seven and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights are popular bands known for their quelbe music.
In addition, the governor will be asked to approve 33 leases of government land for agricultural use, along with leases to Felix Santana doing business as Subbase Wreck Shop and to Matric Enterprises.
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