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HomeNewsLocal governmentBryan Signs Land Swap Amendment, Budget Bill into Law

Bryan Signs Land Swap Amendment, Budget Bill into Law

A budget bill weighted down by a sheaf of unrelated amendments tacked on during the last Senate session on Dec. 19 was signed into law by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. Monday, paving the way, among other things, for the St. John land swap to move forward.

The budget bill was previously held back from the fall submission to the governor and was passed during the session on an 11-3 vote. It enables agencies administering the government’s federal grants, including support entities like the Office of Management and Budget, Finance, Property and Procurement and Personnel, to access the portion of funding typically allocated for their operational expenses.

According to Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory, chair of the Finance Committee, the budget bill was held back after summer budget hearings while the government updated its general ledger. Frett-Gregory noted that the fund typically generates approximately $8 million throughout the fiscal year and accrues over time.

Several unrelated amendments were added to the session, including one to move forward the controversial St. John land swap, which allows for the construction of a K-12 school on the island.

Amendment sponsor, Sen. Angel Bolques Jr., said the amended language clarifies the use and public access to Whistling Cay and its waterway known as the Fungi Passage, which became an insurance issue for the titling company and needed to be fixed.

In his transmittal letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Friday, Bryan said the amendment corrects the text of the original law and “ensures that a clean title may be had.”

The bill also makes funding available to the Schneider Regional Medical Center for equipment, supplies and staffing of the Interventional Cardiology Unit.

Bryan also noted that another amendment, sponsored by Sen. Samuel Carrion, manding that all central government and semi-autonomous government agencies provide their written and oral communications to the public in both English and Spanish was “overly broad and could be interpreted to encompass both internal and external communications.”

“Government does not currently have the resources to meet this mandate, however it is important that we provide equal access to Government for our Spanish-speaking community. Therefore, I acknowledge that this is our goal, and as we work to meet it, we will continue to prioritize inclusivity for all residents of our Territory,” Bryan wrote.

 

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