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Senate Subpoenas Government Bank Balances

The V.I. Legislature voted to subpoena direct information on all government bank account balances from Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Thursday, with senators saying the information is required by a law passed last year but has not been provided.

In 2011, the Legislature passed a measure requiring the executive branch to give the Legislature’s post auditor direct access to the accounts. Gov. John deJongh Jr. vetoed the provision in October 2011, saying the request violated the principle of separation of powers and that his financial team is always available to provide information. The Legislature overrode that veto later the same month.

Sen. Craig Barshinger made the motion, saying it had been many months since the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto, but the Legislature still did not have the information. Sen. Neville James and others said if the information were provided before the next hearing, that would satisfy the subpoena.

Voting yea were Barshinger, Sens. Shawn-Michaelll Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly, Usie Richards, Ronald Russell and Janette Millin-Young. Voting nay were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Louis Hill, Patrick Sprauve and Alvin Williams. James abstained. Sens. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Sammuel Sanes and Celestino White were absent at the time of the vote.

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At another point in the day-long session, the body considered a motion from Sanes to special order legislation allowing the V.I. Department of Justice to grant peace officer status to federal law enforcement agents. Sanes argued the territory needs all the help it can get to combat violent crime and gun and drug trafficking.

"Just a few weeks ago, we requested $270 million from the federal government but we cant’ ask for help on this?" Sanes said, referring to a Legislative resolution passed in late April requesting that sum to help pay residents’ electric bills.

Richards moved that the measure instead be sent to the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee for consideration. Sanes chairs that committee.

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The V.I. Legislature voted to subpoena direct information on all government bank account balances from Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Thursday, with senators saying the information is required by a law passed last year but has not been provided.

In 2011, the Legislature passed a measure requiring the executive branch to give the Legislature's post auditor direct access to the accounts. Gov. John deJongh Jr. vetoed the provision in October 2011, saying the request violated the principle of separation of powers and that his financial team is always available to provide information. The Legislature overrode that veto later the same month.

Sen. Craig Barshinger made the motion, saying it had been many months since the Legislature overrode the governor's veto, but the Legislature still did not have the information. Sen. Neville James and others said if the information were provided before the next hearing, that would satisfy the subpoena.

Voting yea were Barshinger, Sens. Shawn-Michaelll Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly, Usie Richards, Ronald Russell and Janette Millin-Young. Voting nay were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Louis Hill, Patrick Sprauve and Alvin Williams. James abstained. Sens. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Sammuel Sanes and Celestino White were absent at the time of the vote.

At another point in the day-long session, the body considered a motion from Sanes to special order legislation allowing the V.I. Department of Justice to grant peace officer status to federal law enforcement agents. Sanes argued the territory needs all the help it can get to combat violent crime and gun and drug trafficking.

"Just a few weeks ago, we requested $270 million from the federal government but we cant' ask for help on this?" Sanes said, referring to a Legislative resolution passed in late April requesting that sum to help pay residents' electric bills.

Richards moved that the measure instead be sent to the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee for consideration. Sanes chairs that committee.