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HomeNewsArchivesGov. Turnbull Vetoes P.E. Bill, Signs Seven Others Into Law

Gov. Turnbull Vetoes P.E. Bill, Signs Seven Others Into Law

May 17, 2006 – A bill increasing the physical education requirements for elementary school students in the territory would put "too much constraint" on the Education Department, according to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull. In a letter sent Wednesday evening to Senate President Lorraine L. Berry, Turnbull explained his position on the P.E. bill and various other bills to reach his desk.
Turnbull added that the bill would also call for Education to hire additional P.E. teachers, which is not "within the department's budget." He further said that students in kindergarten to sixth grade are already required to spend 90 minutes a week in P.E. classes, while students in the territory's junior high and high schools engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
"While I support the idea of the legislation, I believe the agencies responsible for its implementation should be given the opportunity to study the measure in detail to ensure that everyone is on board when it's implemented," Turnbull wrote.
The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste late last month, has sparked much debate in the Senate as representatives from both the Education Department and Board of Education have testified that the requirements proposed in the bill would lengthen the school day for students and adversely affect those who are already struggling to balance their academic and vocational requirements.
However, senators have said that requiring students to devote 150 minutes a week to being physically active would combat obesity and help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in adolescents – problems which, they said, are plaguing students both locally and nationally.
In other news, Turnbull also vetoed a bill allowing senior citizens and persons with disabilities to pay debts owed to the government at any department or agency where there is a bonded cashier. Turnbull wrote that the bill would "create chaos in our government collection system."
"For example, certain information pertaining to the collection of taxes is confidential," Turnbull wrote, adding that it is "unfair" to make government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Bureau responsible for collecting payments on utility bills and loans.
A bill allowing the use of Segway human transporters (an electric scooter used in pedestrian areas) to conduct tours around downtown Charlotte Amalie was also vetoed by Turnbull, who said that local roads and sidewalks are not designed for the operation of such machines.
"The operation of these mobility devices may create chaos on our streets and lead to injuries to motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians, as well as to the Segway operators themselves," he wrote. "While these devices may be popular in other jurisdictions, they are not suitable for our downtown areas, which are already congested."
Similar concerns were also voiced by Public Works Commissioner George Phillips, who said at a recent Senate hearing that Segway operators may have to be licensed and insured before they are able to use the devices.
At the hearing, however, attorney Tom Bolt–representing Caribbean Segway Tours, the company who is seeking to bring the devices to the territory – said the machines are used in 44 states and are not considered motor vehicles, so residents would not need a license or insurance to operate them.
In his letter, Turnbull said that he has also signed into law bills:
–enacting a five-year moratorium on the issuance of tavern keepers licenses within the towns of Christiansted and Fredericksted on St. Croix and the Savan area on St. Thomas.
–promoting a sustainable farming industry in the Virgin Islands.
–directing the Motor Vehicle Bureau to issue license plates to veterans.
— enforcing safeguards to protect residents against consumer fraud practices.
–ensuring that residents find out who voted how when the territory's boards and committees go into closed session.
–honoring and commending Sophia Johnson for her heroism in saving the life of a potential drowning victim at Hotel on the Cay Beach on St. Croix.
–honoring and commending Elfrida Henry McIntosh posthumously for her contributions to V.I. heritage, culture and music.
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