76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 2, 2022


The controversial Omnibus Act of Fiscal Year 2000 became law Tuesday as the 23rd Legislature voted to override en bloc Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's line-item vetoes sent down earlier this month.
The Omnibus Act was not on the official agenda, but was clearly on the senators' minds. Discussion of the governor's vetoes came up early in the session, which was held to address board nominations and several other bills.
Sen. David Jones, who moved to override the vetoes, said he was "elated" after the vote. He had said earlier at a Finance Committee meeting that he planned to try to override the veto en bloc. Asked if the outcome was what he had expected, he said, "No. I had to lobby for this."
Earlier in the session, Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus had suggested an override of seven of the 11 vetoed sections.
All senators were present at the full session except Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, who had asked to be excused to attend a court hearing in St. Croix on the Beal Aerospace land-swap trial in which she is a plaintiff.
The motion passed by a vote of 10-4. Sens. Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, V. Anne Golden and Adelbert "Bert" Bryan voted against the override.
Among the restored provisions of the Omnibus Bill that are now law are these:
– A 10-page section that gives teeth to the inspector general's power to investigate fraud and subpoena records and witnesses. The section also gives the IG's office money and independence from any governmental interference in its operation.
– A section requiring the V.I. director of personnel to be confirmed by the Legislature and limiting the director's salary to the $65,000 paid to commissioners.
– Elimination of four government paid holidays: Transfer Day, Organic Act Day, Hurricane Supplication Day and Local Thanksgiving Day. These holidays can be observed on the weekend's closest day to their respective dates.
– A proviso that gives the Education Department authority to hire personnel and have more power over its finances.
– A provision allowing non-bank cash machines to operate in the territory, a move that was strongly opposed by the banking community and the Turnbull administration.
In announcing his line-item vetoes, Turnbull said he had taken the actions with great reluctance. He said the Omnibus Bill didn't go far enough toward reducing government spending.
In other action Tuesday, the 14 senators unanimously approved a bill bestowing the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor on Judge Verne A. Hodge. The bill was proposed by Sen. Judy M. Gomez.
Hodge, who retired last month as presiding judge of Territorial Court — a position he held since the court was created in 1976 — was cited for his myriad accomplishments in the courtroom and the community.
One of his best-known contributions was the creation of the V.I. Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, which has won national and international recognition.
Senate President Vargrave Richards led his colleagues in lauding the jurist's many accomplishments.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.




Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Error: Server configuration issue