The V.I. Legislature overrode Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s veto Tuesday to enact legislation that expands the circumstances where a temporary physicians 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.
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. Mapp then vetoed the legislation a second time.
Sen. Kurt Vialet, the bill’s sponsor, said the governor had recommended changes, then, when the Legislature made the changes, "there was a different justification for vetoing."
Vialet said the bill allows private practitioners to bring in specialists who are difficult to keep in the territory year round because of the small population.
"This is going to expand health care, Vialet said.
Thirteen senators voted to override Mapp’s veto, with Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd voting no and Sen. Jean Forde absent.
Senators also overrode Mapp’s veto of legislation to give out taxpayer funded birthday presents of $4,000 to Virgin Islanders on their 100th birthdays. The bill includes another $1,000 in burial benefits for each centenarian. It appropriates $25,000 per year for the purpose.
Sen. Janette Millin Young, the sponsor, said the measure was "a way to archive culture," by giving attention to centenarians who have lived long lives in the territory.
"We vetted this in committee to ensure this was not just a gift," Millin Young said.
The bill also requires the Human Services Department to develop genealogies of centenarians in the territory and to submit their names, biographical information and accomplishments to the Senate so it can issue resolutions honoring each one. That information would, in essence, archive and preserve cultural and historical information.
Twelve senators voted to override Mapp’s veto, with Sens. Justin Harrigan and Neville James voting no. Forde was absent.
Senators also approved a slew of rezonings, some of which were vetted by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and others not.
– rezoning parcel No. 10A Estate Emmaus, No. 2 Coral Bay Quarter, St. John, from R-2 (Residential – Low Density, One and Two-Family), W-1 (Waterfront – Pleasure and Density) and W-2 (Waterfront–Industrial) to W-1 (Waterfront – Pleasure);
– a zoning use variance for parcel Nos. 19-2-101 and 19-2-102 Estate Smith Bay, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 East End Quarter, St. Thomas, to allow for a business office space;
– a zoning use variance for parcel No. 125 Estate Smith Bay, Nos. 1, 2, & 3 East End Quarter, St. Thomas, to allow for a feed shop and associated storage;
– rezoning parcel No. 2C Estate Contant, No. 7A Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, from B-2 (Business-Secondary/Neighborhood) to C (Commercial);
– rezoning parcel Nos. 6L-Remainder &6L-25 Estate Nazareth, No. 1 Red Hook Quarter, St. Thomas from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to W-1 (Waterfront Pleasure);
– rezoning parcel 29 Estate Susannaberg, No. 17A Cruz Bay Quarter, St. John from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to B-2 (Business-Secondary/Neighborhood;
– a conditional use variance to plot No. 115-A, Estate Green Cay, St. Croix from R-1 (Residential-Low Density for the operation of a veterinary medical clinic. Mapp previously vetoed this over a drafting error;
– and a zoning use variance for plot No. 43-B Estate La Grande Princesse, Company Quarter, St. Croix, to allow for a restaurant and retail use.
Senators also approved all three current V.I. Supreme Court justices for new terms, along with an array of other nominees.
– Supreme Court Justices Maria Cabret, Ive Swan and Rhys Hodge;
– former Sen. Usie Richards to the Casino Control Commission;
– Yvonne Thraen for another term and Marvin Forbes for a first term with the V.I. Port Authority Board;
– Steven van Beverhoudt for another term as V.I. Inspector General;
– Noreen Michael and George Blackhall to the V.I. Housing Authority Board;
– and Angelo Riddick as director of the Bureau of Information Technology.