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Cruz Bay
Tuesday, June 25, 2024


In its first full session since Jan. 8, opening day, the Senate Monday morning voted to override five out of six of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's vetoes, demonstrating, in the words of Majority Leader Celestino A. White Sr., that the body "can work together on the basis of issues."
The senators voted to allow the Drakes' Seat vendors to return to the property. However, a measure to require the West Indian Co. Ltd. to open its books to the Legislature and the governor failed by an 8-7 vote. Ten votes are required for an override.
The Senate is meeting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to take action on five resolutions, 17 wide-ranging bills and confirmation of three of Turnbull's cabinet nominations.
The nominations were all confirmed Monday. Pamela Richards, as Tourism Commissioner, and Austin L. Andrews, as Virgin Islands Lottery Executive Director, sailed through their nominations with the greatest of ease and covered with accolades. Both were unanimously approved.
Acting Director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue Louis M. Willis didn't have it quite so good in his bid for the director's position. Willis had undergone several hours of grilling before the Rules Committee last month, especially from Sen. Adelbert Bryan, who objected to Willis' nomination again Monday, calling him "not competent for the job." However, Willis passed 13-1, with Bryan voting no and Sen. David Jones absent for the vote.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg started the session when he inquired of Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd if he was planning to utilize the Senate's $58,000 electronic voting system, which was installed in the chambers last December. Liburd, who has claimed the system isn't fully ready, replied, "When the system is functioning, you'll be the first to know."
Later, when Donastorg brought up the matter again, asking Liburd to contact the company which had installed the system for an update to be delivered by 5 p.m., Liburd said Donastorg was "out of order" and threatened to turn off his microphone.
The other overrides were as follows:
– Give the Legislature final say on any contract for the territory's solid waste and resource recovery facilities. The governer had vetoed the section designating contracts had to have legislative approval. The override passed unanimously.
– An amendment to parimutuel gaming and simulcasting statute to increase the government's share of the revenues. The governor said it would decrease the government's share. The override passed 12-2 with one absent. Sens. Bryan and Vargrave Richards voted against. Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste was absent for the vote.
– Reinstate the Legislature's approval of members selected for the newly created V.I. Economic Development Authority. The governor had removed the Legislature's approval. The override passed unanimously.
– Reinstate the Unemployment Tax rate amendment affecting employers paying voluntary retroactive contributions equal to 150 percent of the difference between total benefits charged and total contributions paid by the employer. The override passed 14-1 with Bryan voting no.
All senators were present for the session.

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