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Friday, June 21, 2024


June 6, 2001 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull acted Tuesday on 14 bills that had been forwarded to him on May 24, just making the midnight deadline. He approved a controversial rezoning change and vetoed a bill which would have forced a governor to replace acting department and agency heads within 90 days.
In all, he approved 11 bills recently passed by the 24th Legislature and made line-item vetoes to two others. He said of his sole outright veto, "I am concerned about its impact on the ability of the executive branch to fill vacancies, not only on boards and commissions, but also heads of departments and agencies."
Current law requires the governor to secure the Legislature's approval in extending the authority of an acting official beyond 180 days.
Despite strong opposition from area residents last year, the governor approved an Estate Bakkeroe rezoning change to allow construction of a 177-unit timeshare complex adjacent to the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.
The zoning change floated through the full Senate without debate as an amendment to an unrelated bill at a May 14 session. The amendment was sponsored by Sens. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Celestino White and Almando "Rocky" Liburd. The land is owned by Marriott Ownership Resorts Inc., a subsidiary of Marriott International.
Turnbull item vetoed sections of a bill to increase penalties for employers found to have violated the territory's fair labor standards laws. In a letter to Liburd as Senate president, the governor said the Office of Management and Budget and the Attorney General's Office recommended the selective vetoes because of the measure's "vagueness and inconsistencies, and lack of input from the V.I. Bar Association."
He also item-vetoed provisions of a bill that would have given the American Legion free use of government space. He said his administration will accommodate the needs of the organization without diverting public property.
While expressing reservations to Liburd about the potential impacts of a bill to mandate psychological testing of emergency services employees, he approved the measure, at the same time urging the senators to reconsider it.
Turnbull approved, but also expressed reservations about, an amendment making non-resident owners of timeshare units responsible for an 8 percent room tax. He said he was concerned about its possible negative effect on timeshare development, particularly on St. Croix. He also said he believes the "potential impact" of the tax revenues "is overstated." As the tax does not take effect until April 2002, Turnbull urged the Legislature to reconsider the measure and explore instead a "reasonable" use-based fee.
The governor also approved bills to:
– Authorize Planning and Natural Resources Department enforcement officers to issue citations for violations of wildlife laws.
– Give the University of the Virgin Islands power of eminent domain to acquire a 5-acre tract near Brewers Bay. The original bill, which was amended, would have given UVI carte blanche eminent domain powers.
– Grant four other rezoning changes.
– Apply any Fiscal Year 2001 excess revenues to negotiated raises for government employees.
– Require Senate approval of all subleases for five years or more of property leased from the government. However, Turnbull told Liburd he was not sure if the submission of certain leases was constitutional and that he was forwarding that issue to the Attorney General for an opinion.
The governor also acknowledged a Senate resolution honoring Donald C. Johnson for service to the St. Thomas- St. John chapter of the American Red Cross. "I, too, wish to thank Mr. Johnson for his service to the territory," he said.
By law, the governor has 10 days, excluding Sundays, after receiving bills to act on them. Any on which he does not act automatically become law without his signature.

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