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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Senators Stretch Full Session Into a Third Day

There was talk Tuesday of making it a late night with a last-minute omnibus bill, but some technical difficulties in the legislative legal counsel’s office forced this week’s full session to push into a third day after senators turned in early with just one block of bills left on their agenda.
This last block, however, is the most critical, containing the FY 2011 General Fund budget appropriations for most of the central government departments and agencies, along with the courts and Legislature, and now most likely, a new omnibus bill that senators spent little time discussing on Tuesday.
Instead, most of the day’s session went fairly smoothly, as the bulk of the FY 2011 budget bills were approved in quick succession.
Removed from the agenda and sent back to committee, however, was a bill establishing a $1 monthly surcharge on all cell phone lines, which, if approved, would have gone into effect next month.
Added to the agenda was a new version of a recently passed bill that appropriated money to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to help in developing the first data layer for a territory-wide geospatial information system.
Bill sponsor Sen. Craig W. Barshinger said some technical errors in the initial language needed to be corrected, while a $60,000 appropriation made to fund the work was removed since the agency has separately received $750,000.
The only break in the rhythm came in the early afternoon, when senators gathered in a 15-minute caucus to decide whether to hold Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson in contempt of the Legislature’s rules for insulting Sen. Wayne James. No decision was announced when senators came back on the record, however, and the session picked back up again without any hitches.
Approved Tuesday were bills to:
-appropriate $3.8 million from the Anti-litter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority;
-appropriate $3 million from the Sewage System Fund to the Waste Management Authority to fund operating expenses including maintenance, supplies, machinery and equipment;
– appropriate $1 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from operating expenses;
-appropriate $1.7 million to Property and Procurement for the administration of the Commercial Properties Revolving Fund;
-appropriate $9 million from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for FY 2011;
-appropriate $3 million from the Government Insurance Fund to cover operations for the Finance Department’s Office of the Custodian;
-appropriate $3.9 million from the Health Revolving Fund to the Health Department;
-appropriate $5.1 million from the Indirect Cost Fund to the Office of Management and Budget, Personnel, Finance Department and Property and Procurement;
-appropriate $1 million from the Interest Revenue Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
-appropriate $70 million from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the General Fund, along with paying interest and principal on three separate government bond issues;
-appropriate $881,424 to PERB and $165,000 to the Labor Management Committee from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees’ Increment Fund for FY 2011 expenses (an amendment approved Tuesday added another $35,000 to PERB’s budget from the Union Arbitration Award and Government Employees’ Increment Fund for various expenses);
-appropriate $1.8 million to the PSC from the Public Services Commission Revolving Fund for FY 2011 operating expenses (senators will also be passing an amendment in Rules that lifts the cap on the fund, which currently allows the PSC to draw down no more than $1.5 million for operating expenses);
-appropriate $2.2 million from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund for traveler exit surveys, police operations on all three islands, and various festivals and cleanups;
– appropriate $14 million from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund;
-appropriate $625,534 from the Taxi License Fund to the V.I. Taxicab Commission for operating expenses; and
– reducing to $250,000 the contribution to the Agriculture Revolving Fund from the General Fund.
The only senator absent from Tuesday’s session was Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg.

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