The V.I. Legislature on Tuesday overrode Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s veto of a bill concerning requirements for Economic Development Authority (EDA) beneficiaries.
The override means that EDA beneficiaries are now required by law to buy a home in the territory and hire a Virgin Islander for every $1 million in revenue received.
During the original Senate hearings on the bill, supporters argued the bill would provide flexibility to small businesses by tying the number of hires to actual revenues rather than an arbitrary number. Some also suggested it might help clarify residency status to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. When he vetoed the measure, deJongh described it as "overly broad" and said it "will surely" hinder, not enhance small business development.
Voting to override the governor’s veto were Sens. Craig Barshinger, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Louis Hill, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly, Usie Richards, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Sprauve, Celestino White, Alvin Williams and Janette Millin-Young. Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone was absent at the time of the vote.
The Legislature also overrode the governor’s veto on bills to:
–require each casino receiving tax breaks through the EDA to develop "an aggressive marketing strategy targeting the Virgin Islands as a national and international tourist destination;"
— exempt senior citizens affairs staff, Youth Rehabilitation Center staff, social workers, school nurses, professors at the University of the Virgin Islands and several smaller sets of government employees from the current hiring freeze;
— make it a felony to import slot machines without a license;
— set the terms of several classes of medical licensure in the territory to two years;
— and making assault and battery against social workers, teachers and employees at schools and public aid offices the more serious charge of aggravated assault as a result of the special, vulnerable position of such workers.
By overriding the governor’s vetoes, the Legislature enacted these measures into law.