May 26, 2009 — Gun violence is on the rise, and senators tried to help in the crime-fighting effort Tuesday by passing a bill appropriating $37,000 to the Police Department for three ammunition and firearm-sniffing dogs.
"This is a preventative measure that will help keep the community safe," bill sponsor Sammuel Sanes said during Tuesday night's Rules and Judiciary Committee meeting.
All of the bills on Tuesday's agenda were approved, most without much discussion and a couple with some objections. A bill banning passengers in the back of pickup trucks except during special circumstances such as parades, for example, was heavily opposed by Sen. Celestino A. White Sr., who said the bill should include an exemption for safari drivers, whose vehicles may be considered by some local police officers to be pickup trucks.
Other bills passed during Tuesday's meeting would:
– establish a Motorcycle Rider Education program within the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to provide, among other things, rider training courses for beginning and experienced riders (See "Bill Would Require Written, Skill Tests for Bikers");
– authorize the heads of the Health, Education, Justice and Police departments to offer incentive bonuses up to $10,000 to keep nurses, teachers, corrections or police officers from retiring, and allow them to stay on the job for up to an additional three and a half years;
– add two local government retirees to the Health Insurance Board advisory committee and allows them to vote during the board meetings;
– clarify and expand rules for safety belts and child restraints; and
– appropriate $500,000 from the General Fund to Human Services to expand their home- and community-based support services for senior citizens 60 years and older (an amendment sponsored by Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe also adds another $400,000 to the V.I. Board of Education for nursing scholarships).
Present during Tuesday's meeting were Dowe and Sens. Wayne James, Usie R. Richards, Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly, Sanes, Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Michael Thurland and White.
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