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Friday, July 19, 2024
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RULES HOLDS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION BILL

The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday held a bill that would authorize the establishment of the territory’s next constitutional convention so that local political parties can add input.
A similar bill, which would authorize a constitutional convention to be convened in March 2001, had been heard by the Senate Government Operations Committee in March. At that meeting, political parties and individuals submitted their recommendations about, among other issues, the number of convention delegates.
But in a letter to Rules Chairwoman Anne Golden, Raymond "Usie" Richards, chairman of the Independent Citizens Movement, said the latest bill was introduced as an amendment in the nature of a substitute, radically changing what the ICM and other parties testified on earlier this year. Because of that, he recommended that testimony be taken on the bill before Rules.
With that in mind, Rules members held the bill so that all political parties could review and comment on the changes.
In other committee action, members approved the nomination of Christian Christensen to the St. Croix Coastal Zone Management Board. Christensen, who is married to Delegate to Congress Donna Christian Christensen, said the biggest challenge facing the CZM is the lack of an up-to-date Land and Water Use Plan for the territory.
Without a current plan, he said economic growth could be hampered and exacerbate an already chaotic permit process.
"As a businessperson and Virgin Islander, I understand and subscribe to the need for economic growth and development, and that given our current fiscal situation there will be even more pressure for development," Christensen said, adding that the Land and Water Use Plan is "the key to organized development on St. Croix."
A bill to establish training standards for peace officers was approved by the committee and forwarded to the full Senate for consideration. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Gregory Bennerson, who is on leave from his police post while serving in the Senate, seeks to set a standardized training and certification process for all sworn peace officers.
Currently, officers from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Corrections receive some training from the V.I. Police Department. Bennerson said his bill would create an overall program for all officers in the various departments.
"It is high time that all peace officers be offered the same standards of training since too often certain standards did not complement the other," said Sen. Judy Gomez.
Present at the meeting were Senate President Vargrave Richards, Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, and Sens. Golden, Bennerson and Gomez.

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