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HomeNewsArchivesGov. DeJongh OKs Laws to Prevent Price Gouging, Help Veterans, More

Gov. DeJongh OKs Laws to Prevent Price Gouging, Help Veterans, More

Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed a number of bills into law Wednesday that he said resolved some "compelling community needs," including measures that set aside unused land for veterans’ housing and require local supermarkets to submit an expanded food-basket price list to Licensing and Consumer Affairs by the first Monday of every month.
The food basket includes the price of milk, bread, and other staples items, including meat and poultry. In a letter sent Wednesday to Senate President Louis P. Hill along with the signed bills, the governor said the bill would allow DLCA to better monitor and restrict "any unscrupulous practices causing the escalation of grocery prices."
DLCA currently requires the submission of price lists once a month during hurricane season, but this bill recognizes the importance of "constant monitoring, especially on staple food products," deJongh added. He urged DLCA to be fair when implementing the law to make sure smaller businesses, such as mini-marts, aren’t burdened by the new requirements.
The second bill authorizes the governor to negotiate with Veterans Resource and Development, Inc. for the return of unused land at the former Virgin Islands Hotel site. The bill sets the land aside for low-income housing, with a portion of it to be transferred to the V.I. Housing Finance Authority for the development of single-family homes for veterans. The governor also signed into law a bill creating the V.I. Veterans Memorial Cemetery under the supervision of the V.I. Office of Veterans Affairs.
A bill clearly outlining what a temporary employee is, how long they can work on a specific project and what benefits they are entitled to also got the governor’s stamp of approval. "This measure is necessary to address some of the confusion resulting from temporary employment inadvertently extended without benefits to the employee," the governor wrote Wednesday in his letter to Hill. The bill was created after summer budget hearings turned up a number of temporary employees who have been working in local departments and agencies for years without receiving benefits commensurate with their position of number of years on the job.
Amendments tacked onto the measure that were also signed into law include a reduction of V.I. Lottery revenues being deposited into the Education Initiative Fund (from 25 percent to 15 percent)—with the remaining 10-percent balance to be sent to the Government Employees’ Retirement system to pay annual cost of living bonuses for retirees; and a $600,000 appropriation from the General Fund to the V.I. Housing Authority to pay salaries for one year for 20 employees scheduled for layoffs earlier this month.
Another bill signed into law Wednesday wipes clean the criminal records of certain individuals, including those who have been charged but not convicted or had their cases dismissed without prejudice. In his letter to Hill, deJongh called the bill an "important measure" that gives these individuals a "second chance" at becoming productive citizens of the community.
DeJongh also signed into law bills:
— allowing V.I. Lottery Commission board members to continue to serve after their terms have expired until successors have been confirmed;
–enacting the V.I. Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act, which sets up uniform rules for licensing mortgage lenders;
— establishing the V.I. Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which repeals a previous law and updates regulations for the donation of organs; and
–allowing all physicians in the territory to issue prescriptions electronically.

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