V.I. law will provide for police protection against stalking and harassment by any person, if bills approved by the Legislature in session Thursday are enacted into law. Those were two of more than a dozen new bills approved Thursday.
One bill, [Bill 31-0011] sponsored by Sens. Terrence "Positive" Nelson and Novelle Francis Jr., creates stalking protection for those who are not in a domestic situation with the stalker. It defines stalking in relation to repeatedly following a person with the intent to harass, threaten or bother the person. The other, [Bill 31-0019] sponsored by Nelson and Sen. Kenneth Gittens, focuses on harassment.
Like many localities, V.I. law currently envisions restraining orders solely in the context of domestic violence. When the bill was discussed in committee, testifiers from the territory’s victim advocacy and resource organizations recounted harrowing stories from clients of long-term stalking, harassment and threats, in one case spanning more than 30 years.
Police will have an easier time dealing with abandoned vehicles if another bill, Bill No. 31-0003, sponsored by Sen. Justin Harrigan and approved Thursday is signed into law by the governor.
The bill expands the definition of “abandoned motor vehicle” to include those not currently registered and left on public roadways or public property. It also makes the owner of the abandoned vehicle liable for towing and storage fees. It reads: "The Virgin Islands Police Department shall treat any vehicle not displaying a valid registration sticker or tag which is left on the public roadways or public property for more than 48 hours as an abandoned vehicle and shall upon notifying the registered owner, ticket, tow, preserve and store the unregistered vehicle and hold the registered owner responsible for all towing, storage charges and fines."
Senators also approved legislation [Bill 31-0172], sponsored by Sen. Kurt Vialet, that tightens up existing provisions about student truancy, eliminating provisions that allow school absences if a principal is given an excuse, and provisions saying a parent is liable only if he or she "knowingly" contributes to the delinquency.
Bill 31-0110, sponsored by Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly and several other senators, permits My Brother’s Workshop to occupy its Kingshill facility at Matricular No. 23-AA Estate Kingshill, St. Croix, for three years in exchange for refurbishing the site according to Human Services specifications.
Other legislation approved Thursday included:
– a bill sponsored by Rivera-O’Reilly requiring the V.I. Department of Tourism to start promoting St. Croix at airports, seaports, marinas, public busses and bus shanties and possibly at beaches and resorts;
– a bill, sponsored by Sen. Myron Jackson requiring the Agriculture Department to conduct a feasibility study on the marketability, medical and commercial value of Moringa trees, bamboo and aloe vera;
– a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War;
– a bill from Rivera-O’Reilly to exempt condominiums with 10 or fewer units from a 1960s-era law requiring all condominium associations to conduct annual audits. Instead, small establishments could make the financial records available to members who ask, and condo association members could vote to require an audit;
– a resolution sponsored by Sen. Kenneth Gittens asking the U.S. Congress to repeal provisions of federal law declaring Government House on St. Thomas to be the residence of the governor;
– and to rezone Parcel 10-5b Estate Glucksberg, No. 22 Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John, from R-2 (residential – low density- one and two family) to B-3 (business-scattered).