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Senate Ponders Capping Foreclosure Purchases

Speculative foreclosure sale purchasers of V.I. real estate will be capped at five properties per year, if a bill being considered Thursday in the Rules and Judiciary Committee becomes law.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Sprauve, would forbid purchasers from bidding on a foreclosed parcel if they already purchased at foreclosure "more than four parcels" or "one or more parcels of real property in excess of 100 acres in the aggregate" that same calendar year.

The purchase limitations do not apply to mortgagees and other perfected lien holders. Perfected lien holders are those who have documented the lien according to law and had the lien recorded with the deed in local land records.

Courts would be able to issue an order allowing purchasers to exceed the limit if they prove "an unreasonable hardship or inequity will result … other than the lost opportunity to purchase a piece of real property at a favorable purchase price."

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The bill was introduced May 30, according to the V.I. Legislature’s bill tracking system. It is listed on the agenda for Thursday’s hearing of the Rules and Judiciary Committee, which would be the first public debate on the measure since its introduction.

It joins a series of bills on the day’s agenda that were considered and voted upon previously by committees with subject matter jurisdiction over their contents.

Also on Thursday’s agenda will be a bill to expand the monitoring of sex offenders, bringing the territory in line with federal standards and sending the message that the Virgin Islands is not a haven for people who sexually abuse children. A federal act in 2006 required all state and territory laws to be updated to new standards by July 2011 and the territory is losing about $200,000 of certain grant funds because it has not made the changes yet, Attorney General Vincent Foster testified during committee hearings.

The bill expands the definitions in the local statutes, establishes a tiered system for registrants based on the severity, number and types of the offenses for which sex offenders are convicted. For the lowest tier, convicted sex offenders must be registered for 15 years. The highest tier calls for registration for life.

The committee will also look at bills and resolutions:
– making it less complicated for the Department of Human Services to trigger court hearings to terminate parental rights and initiate adoption of children in long-term foster care;
– instituting staggered terms for members of the V.I. Board of Education and reinstate a residency requirement and authorizing the Board of Education chairperson to appoint a designee to the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees and the V.I. Public Television System;
– allowing the governor to fill vacancies on boards and commissions when the vacancy requires the appointment of a commissioner or division head;
– honoring and commending Audie Enrique Henneman and to name the gymnasium at the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School the “Audie Enrique Henneman Gymnasium."

Rules will also consider the nominations of Manuel Gutierrez Jr. to the V.I. Port Authority Board of Governors, and Joseph San Martin to the V.I. Public Services Commission.

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