Dec. 15, 2003 After years of neglect and indecision, a bill changing the territory's handling of waste has an excellent chance of becoming law on Wednesday when Sen. Louis Hill's legislation creating a Waste Management Authority comes before the full Senate for a vote.
The bill has already cleared two major hurdles: the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee (which Hill chairs) and the Rules Committee. This is an unprecedented event, given that no bill proposing a similar authority has ever made it out of any committee in the past. See: "Waste Management Authority Clears Committee."
Hill was cautiously jubilant this Monday. "I think it's almost certain the majority of senators recognize it is a historic and critical piece of legislation," he said. "It is absolutely necessary in order to address the crucial solid waste and waste water issues that we face."
When Hill was elected to office, tackling the waste issue in the V.I. topped his list of priorities. At the time he said he was committed to the authority, which he termed "long overdue." He said then he anticipated getting the bill enacted in March.
However, passing this type of legislation required many public hearings and much feedback from the Department of Public Works. That department can now wash its hands of the responsibility, a proposition that DPW Commissioner Wayne Callwood has greeted enthusiastically.
At an October committee meeting, Callwood called the authority "an idea whose time has come." He said then, "I am faced with court orders for solid waste, and now for the first time, I am faced with court orders for fixing roads. The creation of this authority will address the needs of the community more efficiently."
The Source did a series of articles on the territory's waste woes in early 2000. See: "Solid Waste Woes: What's the Plan?"
This Monday Hill said that next on his agenda is a comprehensive water and land use plan, another issue that has been kicked around for years with lots of comment, but no action.
The Rules Committee Friday on St. Croix also passed other bills, nominations, resolutions and leases, which will be on Wednesday's agenda. A bill to include representatives from the administrative staff on the University of the Virgin Islands board was held in committee after objections were made by UVI President LaVerne Ragster.
Attending the meeting were Sens. Douglas Canton, Roosevelt David, committee chairman Hill and Ronald Russell. Sens. Lorraine Berry, Carlton Dowe, and David Jones were absent.
The nominations are: Evelyn Crittenden and Luis Garcia to the V.I. Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Complex board; Claude "Tappy" Molloy Sr. and Yolander Samuel-Deterville to the Water and Power Authority governing board; Rodney Moorehead to the Public Employees Relations Board; Juanita M. Woods to the University of the Virgin Islands board of trustees; and Hector Peguero to the Port Authority board of governors.
The resolutions are as follows:
No. 25-0087 — to posthumously recognize Franklin A. Powell Sr. and name the Cruz Bay Park in his honor.
No. 25-0088 — to recognize Austin F. Callwood, U.S. Coast Guard Commander, for more than 24 years of service to his country.
The bills are as follows:
No. 25-0083 — to appropriate $100,000 for renovation of the Cruz Bay dinghy docks.
No. 25-0126 — to impose a 2-percent surtax on hotel rooms and time-share occupancy in order to fund the establishment of a Tourism Board, and for other purposes.
No. 25-0141 — to amend the Casino and Resort Act of 1995 relating to the automatic licensing of hotels in which the government holds an interest of at least 25 percent.
No. 25-0063 — to establish an amnesty program within the Labor Department's Unemployment Insurance Program.
No 25-0066 — to bring the V.I. Code into compliance with federal law regarding age discrimination, and for other purposes.
No. 25-0092 – to provide for judicial review of final decisions of the Board of Education.
No. 25-0094 – to reduce the number of hours of community service required of high school students for graduation to 220 from the current 500.
Consideration of agricultural leases with: Mary Alexander (2), Augustin Ayala, Raymond Bastian and Noel Potter, Earl Bedford, Bethany Bradford, Edward Brisset, Llewellyn Charles, Daniel Crabbe, Devon A. Dhu and Jacklyn Frett, Alphonso Fahie, Delano "Kubo" Francis, Etien O. Frett and Nidia Ocana-Frett, James Gatewood, Washington Gumbs, Roberto Harrigan, Fillmore Haywood and Algernon Baltimore, Derick Hodge, Ronnie Hunt, Ronald A. Krigger Sr., Maanazo Lamakalo, Cyril LaPlace, Pierre, John and Carl LaPlace, Omar Ledee, Geraldo "Shahimo" Leerdam, Hector and Margarita Quetel, Ecedro Rabsatt, St. Croix Farmers in Action Inc., John Schulterbrandt, Sheila Schulterbrandt, Henry P. Schuster Jr., Alvin R. "Molly" Turnbull, and V.I. Christian Ministries. Other leases with: Felix Santana dba Subbase Wreck Shop, and Matrix Enterprises.
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