July 8, 2004 – The Senate Public Safety, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee approved a Homeland Security Act for the territory on Thursday afternoon.
The bill calls for the creation of an Office of Homeland Security to assist the government in establishing standards for all security operations and activities.
The committee chair, Sen. Lorraine Berry, offered an amendment to:
– Place the Homeland Security Office under the Office of the Adjutant General as recommended by Eddy Charles, director of the Law-Enforcement Planning Commission.
– Transfer responsibility for hazardous materials, or hazmat, response from the Planning and Natural Resources Department to the Fire Service — which is staffed 24 hours a day, Berry noted, whereas DPNR is not.
The amendment was approved on a 6-0 vote. The bill as amended also passed unanimously.
The committee also approved the Commercial Motor Vehicle Act and a bill that would increase the fines for school vandalism and provide for such fines to be placed in an impress fund for the vandalized school, to be used for repairing any damages incurred.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Act would make the Police Department responsible for the inspection of commercial vehicles.
The committee also voted 6-0 to hold a weapons trafficking bill sponsored by Sen. Emmett Hansen II that calls for the forfeiture of vehicles used to transport illegal weapons.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron, in a letter dated June 23, urged the committee not to include the weapons measure in the Omnibus Crime Bill. He said his office currently has a Forfeiture Unit "which addresses the range of issues relating to forfeitures."
Hansen moved that the bill be held in committee until Stridiron could appear to testify.
"His forfeiture program addresses drugs and not weapons," Hansen said.
Committee members attending the meeting were Sens. Berry, Carlton Dowe, Hansen, Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Shawn-Michael Malone and Ronald Russell. Sen. David Jones was absent.
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