80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 4, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesChristensen Talks Health Care Reform, Cover-Over with Women Voters

Christensen Talks Health Care Reform, Cover-Over with Women Voters

Speaking before the League of Women Voters’ 41st annual meeting Saturday, Delegate Donna Christensen discussed several key issues including proposed new legislation on the rum cap issue that she said could be financially devastating to the territory, and the impact of the newly signed health reform legislation on the V.I.

She also said the draft of the V.I. Constitution will be heard on the U. S. Senate floor the second week in May, after a hearing before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Insular Affairs last month.

Before getting into the major issues, Christensen detoured briefly. With an engaging smile, she said of her seven terms in Congress, "the last 15 months have been the most exciting time of my life." That’s up to and including looking over President Obama’s shoulder at the historic signing of the health care reform bill last month.

The delegate revealed a moment which she said meant a lot to her: being in the White House Oval Office at the signing into law of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "I stood right behind him." she said. However, she said, now the real work will begin on the massive legislation.

Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)
Advertising (skip)

Christensen spoke at length on a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate Thursday by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, which would cap at 10 percent the amount of rum cover-over funds that could be used to support the industry and would apply retroactively to the agreements already in place between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Diageo Corp. and Cruzan Rum.

"This bill would undermine our agreements with the rum producers, agreements which were very hard to negotiate," Christensen said. "Senator Menendez wrongly assumes that the Virgin Islands lured Diageo away from Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands’ incentive and investment is in the future of its economy, not in a company."

Christensen said the dispute has a history. It is similar to a bill introduced in the House of Representatives a year ago by Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Peter Pierluisi, in that it caps direct subsidies to the spirits industry at 10 percent.

"Officials from Puerto Rico have complained that the U.S. Virgin Islands lured Diageo away with the subsidies. In fact," she said, "Diageo was going to pull out of Puerto Rico and find a foreign base of operations. Puerto Rico thought they would still get 87 percent of whatever Diageo did, and they did nothing about it. They took a risk."

The company had already decided to build its own distillery and announced it would not renew the contract, which expires at the end of 2011. Only then did the U.S.V.I. enter the picture, persuading Diageo to build its planned facility in the territory instead of a foreign country.

Christensen said she will testify before the Senate V.I. draft constitution, along with the president of the Constitutional Convention, and a member of the V.I. Department of Justice. "Congress has 60 days to act on the draft, which expires June 30."

Congress has three options: send it back approved to the islands, as is; or send it back amended; or reject it. By not doing anything, Congress, in effect, approves it.

Christensen said that though she would love to see the territory finally have its own constitution, she acknowledged that parts of the document have raised objections by Gov. John deJongh Jr. and others who have called them "unconstitutional. These areas will be a challenge."

The mood at the LWV meeting at Palms Court Harbor View was positive as members recalled the group’s activities over the past year. Members were active in the governor’s GERS Summit in July, and provided comments on the VI. Revised Election Plan to implement the Help America Vote Act.

Helen Gjessing, a 40-year member and chair of the Planning and Environmental Quality Committee, discussed several projects, including the Alpine Energy Group proposal, which was stopped in its tracks last month when the Senate voted to deny AEG a lease on the St. Thomas Bovoni property.

She expressed dismay at the Board of Land Use Appeals lack of a quorum, which has prevented the body from functioning. "There are new nominees, but all have conflicts of interest," she said, urging the body to "protest the governor’s nominations."

Gjessing said, "The LWV needs to support a strong PEQ committee and the Virgin Islands needs a stronger League of Women Voters!"

The LWV may just get the help Gjessing asked for with four new members who joined Saturday, two from St. Thomas, and two from St. Croix,

Taetia Phillips-Dorsett, a researcher for the office of Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve, came up to Gjessing, from whom she had taken freshman biology in 1990 when Gjessing taught at the University of the Virgin Islands. Phillips-Dorsett, who holds a master’s in microbiology, said, "It’s important for young Virgin Islands women to take responsibility," a notion to which Catherine Bryan, also of Sprauve’s staff heartily agreed. The senator attended part of the meeting.

Francine Cruickshank and Genevieve Whitaker of St. Croix both expressed a desire to be active in community issues as well. Whitaker said the lack of partisanship on the LWV appealed to her.

President Abigail Cyntje expressed the group’s appreciation to Christensen for her patience in a long Q and A session at the conclusion of the meeting, where the delegate had received a spontaneous round of applause

Related link:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,756FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Speaking before the League of Women Voters' 41st annual meeting Saturday, Delegate Donna Christensen discussed several key issues including proposed new legislation on the rum cap issue that she said could be financially devastating to the territory, and the impact of the newly signed health reform legislation on the V.I.

She also said the draft of the V.I. Constitution will be heard on the U. S. Senate floor the second week in May, after a hearing before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Insular Affairs last month.

Before getting into the major issues, Christensen detoured briefly. With an engaging smile, she said of her seven terms in Congress, "the last 15 months have been the most exciting time of my life." That's up to and including looking over President Obama's shoulder at the historic signing of the health care reform bill last month.

The delegate revealed a moment which she said meant a lot to her: being in the White House Oval Office at the signing into law of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "I stood right behind him." she said. However, she said, now the real work will begin on the massive legislation.

Christensen spoke at length on a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate Thursday by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, which would cap at 10 percent the amount of rum cover-over funds that could be used to support the industry and would apply retroactively to the agreements already in place between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Diageo Corp. and Cruzan Rum.

"This bill would undermine our agreements with the rum producers, agreements which were very hard to negotiate," Christensen said. "Senator Menendez wrongly assumes that the Virgin Islands lured Diageo away from Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands' incentive and investment is in the future of its economy, not in a company."

Christensen said the dispute has a history. It is similar to a bill introduced in the House of Representatives a year ago by Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Peter Pierluisi, in that it caps direct subsidies to the spirits industry at 10 percent.

"Officials from Puerto Rico have complained that the U.S. Virgin Islands lured Diageo away with the subsidies. In fact," she said, "Diageo was going to pull out of Puerto Rico and find a foreign base of operations. Puerto Rico thought they would still get 87 percent of whatever Diageo did, and they did nothing about it. They took a risk."

The company had already decided to build its own distillery and announced it would not renew the contract, which expires at the end of 2011. Only then did the U.S.V.I. enter the picture, persuading Diageo to build its planned facility in the territory instead of a foreign country.

Christensen said she will testify before the Senate V.I. draft constitution, along with the president of the Constitutional Convention, and a member of the V.I. Department of Justice. "Congress has 60 days to act on the draft, which expires June 30."

Congress has three options: send it back approved to the islands, as is; or send it back amended; or reject it. By not doing anything, Congress, in effect, approves it.

Christensen said that though she would love to see the territory finally have its own constitution, she acknowledged that parts of the document have raised objections by Gov. John deJongh Jr. and others who have called them "unconstitutional. These areas will be a challenge."

The mood at the LWV meeting at Palms Court Harbor View was positive as members recalled the group's activities over the past year. Members were active in the governor's GERS Summit in July, and provided comments on the VI. Revised Election Plan to implement the Help America Vote Act.

Helen Gjessing, a 40-year member and chair of the Planning and Environmental Quality Committee, discussed several projects, including the Alpine Energy Group proposal, which was stopped in its tracks last month when the Senate voted to deny AEG a lease on the St. Thomas Bovoni property.

She expressed dismay at the Board of Land Use Appeals lack of a quorum, which has prevented the body from functioning. "There are new nominees, but all have conflicts of interest," she said, urging the body to "protest the governor's nominations."

Gjessing said, "The LWV needs to support a strong PEQ committee and the Virgin Islands needs a stronger League of Women Voters!"

The LWV may just get the help Gjessing asked for with four new members who joined Saturday, two from St. Thomas, and two from St. Croix,

Taetia Phillips-Dorsett, a researcher for the office of Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve, came up to Gjessing, from whom she had taken freshman biology in 1990 when Gjessing taught at the University of the Virgin Islands. Phillips-Dorsett, who holds a master's in microbiology, said, "It's important for young Virgin Islands women to take responsibility," a notion to which Catherine Bryan, also of Sprauve's staff heartily agreed. The senator attended part of the meeting.

Francine Cruickshank and Genevieve Whitaker of St. Croix both expressed a desire to be active in community issues as well. Whitaker said the lack of partisanship on the LWV appealed to her.

President Abigail Cyntje expressed the group's appreciation to Christensen for her patience in a long Q and A session at the conclusion of the meeting, where the delegate had received a spontaneous round of applause

Related link: