Senate Refines RTPark E-Commerce Definition

After overriding the governor’s veto to enact legislation expanding e-commerce’s definition to allow local preexisting Internet service providers and cable television companies to get Research and Technology Park tax breaks, senators passed legislation slightly narrowing and refining the new definitions late Wednesday night (see related links below).

Sen. Judi Buckley, who sponsored the bill along with Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, said she supported the veto override on condition that it be put up for discussion and a vote.

"One concerns with the veto we overrode is the definition of e-commerce is too broad," Buckley said. Her bill removes language in Malone’s RTPark legislation that specifically allowed lobbyists and consultants who work for telecommunications companies involved in e-commerce to receive RTPark tax breaks.

Her bill also requires the RTPark to have a list of its tenants, their addresses, principals, contributions and programs with the University of the Virgin Islands and a listing of available jobs and positions.

"I think these amendments will reduce some of the fears we have opened up the tech park to too many types of businesses," Buckley said.

The provisions that allow the territory’s pre-existing ISPs and cable TV companies to receive broad tax forgiveness through the RTPark were unaffected by the new legislation. Some senators raised concern that the veto override would be law for several weeks or indefinitely, while the legislation narrowing the definition may not be enacted for some time, possibly creating legal confusion for the RTPark and potential tenants.

Malone said the bill would be sent to Government House on Thursday morning, along with the veto override, allowing for quick action.

Voting for the bill were Buckley, Malone, Sens. Craig Barshinger, Diane Capehart, Kenneth Gittens, Clifford Graham, Myron Jackson, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly, Clarence Payne and Sammuel Sanes.

Voting no were Sens. Donald Cole, Tregenza Roach, Alica "Chucky" Hansen and Janette Millin Young. The four senators opposed were also the four who voted no on the veto override.

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