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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


The League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands, in its annual "Luncheon with the Legislature" on Monday, made clear just what the league expects from the members of the 23rd Legislature.
League President Debra Brown-Roumo presented a four-part wish list to the senators in attendance, including fiscal responsibility, planning and environmental protection, election and legislative reform, and proper decorum.
As to fiscal responsibility, the league said there should be no appropriation unless the source of revenue is specifically identified, and no further labor negotiations without stating exactly where funding will come from.
"No more will references to that time-worn catch-all phrase ‘from the General Fund or any other fund available in the Treasury of the Virgin Islands,' be acceptable," Brown-Roumo said.
The league is also calling for a moratorium on wage negotiations of at least three years.
Brown-Roumo pointed out that the executive branch collects money and plans expenditures, while the Legislature has the power to permit or deny those expenditures.
She admonished the senators to "Hold on to those purse strings!"
The league's environmental agenda calls for passage of the Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan. Brown-Roumo said the bill will help senators "resist the spot-zoning temptation."
The league also wants the Legislature to acquire, by eminent domain, the filled land at Long Bay, to be used as a recreational and cultural park.
League members also want legislation that established the West Indian Co. Ltd. amended to permit greater public participation in policy-making decisions.
Brown-Roumo warned senators to give careful attention to conflicts of interest when reviewing nominees for the Coastal Zone Management Commission and the Board of Land Use Appeals.
In the area of election and legislative reform, the league supports a reduction in the number of senators.
Brown-Roumo suggested that status quo or numbered seats are not the only options for electing senators.
"The League encourages the careful study and eventual passage of laws that will restructure and redesign the way in which senators are elected," she said.
As a cost-saving measure, the league also recommended a reduction in the number of months the Legislature is in session.
In closing, Brown-Roumo said that in view of displays of disrespect on the floor of the Senate in recent years, the league was forced to call for enforcement of the rules governing decorum. She asked the Legislature to be prepared to censure senators whose behavior impedes the progress of lawmaking.
"It is imperative that our leaders reflect the posture of statesmen and dedicate themselves to the cause of doing the people's business," she said.

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