Feb. 27, 2004 – After a morning of lively debate with the administration's holders of the purse strings (see "Panel OKs peace officer status for I.G. agents"), the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon turned its to attention to bills that would create a local chapter of a program to help troubled youngsters and ensure uniform vehicle-inspection practices.
The National Guard Youth Challenge Program is voluntary; that is to say, a judge cannot sentence a child to take part. However, a youth court judge may refer a child considered "at risk" to the program.
Youngsters enrolled in the program may earn a general educational development (GED) diploma under the National Guard's Challenging Academy guidelines. The bill's sponsors, Sens. Roosevelt David and Louis Hill, hailed the committee's passage of the measure as "long overdue."
Presiding Territorial Court Judge Maria Cabret gave her support to the program at a Senate Education and Youth Committee meeting earlier this month. She said research has shown that it "is a success nationwide." She urged the lawmakers to incorporate the residential requirements of the national program, saying it would "provide our troubled youth with much-needed discipline and training."
The bill establishing a uniform set of fees for vehicle inspections, sponsored by Sen. Usie Richards, was sent to the Public Safety, Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee at the request of Sen. Lorraine Berry. She said the bill had been "misdirected" and should be heard in that committee, which she chairs.
Berry said the measure will be heard by her committee at a meeting on St. Croix at 2 p.m. on March 5.
The committee also approved bills to:
– Add an alumni representative, to be elected by the Alumni Association, to the University of the Virgin Islands board of trustees. It removed from the bill a provision for a UVI staff member also to have a seat on the board.
– Clarify language in the V.I. Code setting senatorial pay at $65,000 yearly.
-Appropriate $200,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund for surveying and mapping St. John land.
The bills approved by the committee now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Members of the committee present for the afternoon deliberations were Sens. Berry, Douglas Canton, David, Carlton Dowe, Hill and Ronald Russell. Sen. David Jones was absent.
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