New Physician and Liquor Licensing Laws Among Approved Legislation

There will be new rules for temporary licensing of physicians and for licensing liquor distributors if legislation approved by the V.I. Legislature on Thursday is enacted into law.

The measure [Bill 31-0469] on physician licensure, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Violet, expands the circumstances where a temporary license can be granted. During committee hearings on a similar bill, V.I. physicians argued it would expand availability of care and enable practitioners to ensure care for their patients if they need to leave the territory.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp vetoed a previous version, saying it would lower standards for licensure. The new version requires the same standards as permanent licensure and addresses other concerns outlined in Mapp’s veto message. (See Related Links below)

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Senators made several changes to V.I. law through amendments to an uncontroversial bill transferring money from one fund to another.

A measure sponsored by Sens. Clifford Graham and Kenneth Gittens would require authorization from specific liquor manufacturers to get a V.I. license to distribute that particular liquor in the territory, before the V.I. Division of Licensing and Consumer Affairs will license that company to distribute the same liquor.

Another from Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly makes it a misdemeanor to not have children wear life preservers on boats by correcting a typographical mistake in the V.I. Code.

A measure from Sen. Clifford Graham expands the V.I. Open Meetings Act, which requires notice and open meetings of government agencies. The current law gives a long list of covered entities. The change would expand the law by expanding the definition of a government agency to include "any independent instrumentality receiving money from the government of the Virgin Islands for operating expenses."

A measure sponsored by Sen. Myron Jackson would change a 2010 appropriation of $450,000 for a ball field with artificial turf at Charlotte Amalie to one for a turf and grass ball field.

Separately lawmakers voted to override Mapp’s veto of a bill mandating a comprehensive violence and public health study.

“One of the major concerns that the governor had was the lack of funding for this bill,” said Sen. Janette Millin Young, the bill’s sponsor. “However, after several meetings with the commissioner of Health, it is determined that the monies can come from the Crisis Intervention Fund. I have placed a drafting request to make the new funding source," Millin Young said.

All senators except Jackson were present Thursday.

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