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HomeNewsArchivesSenate Committee Passes Bill Exempting Non-Profits' Emergency Vehicles From Road Tax

Senate Committee Passes Bill Exempting Non-Profits' Emergency Vehicles From Road Tax

Oct. 29, 2008 – A bill passed Wednesday in the Senate Government Operations and Consumer Affairs Committee exempts non-profits dealing with health and life emergencies from paying road tax, called the highway user's tax, on new vehicles.
The bill must pass muster with the Rules Committee, the full Senate and Gov. John deJongh Jr. before it becomes law, but it seems likely to happen.
"This is one of those bills that makes plain old sense," Sen. Terrance "Positive" Nelson said.
The bill was written at the request of St. Thomas Rescue, which has a new vehicle on the way and can't afford to pay the $1,100 road tax. It would also apply to organizations such as St. John Rescue and St. Croix Rescue when they buy new vehicles.
Currently, organizations such as these can import two vehicles without paying road tax, but this bill removes that limit.
In testifying on behalf of the bill, St. Thomas Rescue vice-president Irvin Mason that the organization hopes to organize a search and rescue group in conjunction with St. John Rescue.
The biggest issues facing the all-volunteer St. Thomas Rescue are communication with government protection agencies and a shortage of funding, Mason said.
He noted that anyone is welcome to join the organization, which provides training.
The meeting started on a testy note when committee chairman Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone found himself with no quorum.
"Good morning to the empty chairs of my colleagues," he said.
He added that he's aware it's election time, but the Legislature is not on recess.
Sen. Liston Davis arrived soon after, with Nelson and Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve following some time later. Along with Malone, all voted to pass the bill on to the Rules Committee where it will be further amended to clean up some inconsistencies in the V.I. Code pertaining to the road tax exemption.
Sen. Carlton Dowe sent a letter asking to be excused, but Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville and Sen. Alvin Williams were no shows.
The meeting took on a somber note when Davis spoke out about the senseless killing over the weekend of Superior Court Brenda Hollar's law clerk, Gabriel Lerner. Two people were arrested Tuesday in connection with the case.
"What a disgrace and shame to the community," Davis said.
Davis pointed out that news of the murder won't bode well for the territory's tourism industry.
Other senators also offered condolence comments.
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