Mapp Vetoes Bill Creating Senate Fund for Nonprofits

Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp vetoed a bill that would have created a fund for senators to make contribution to non-profit organizations, Government House announced Sunday.

The governor approved two measures to support efforts of local law enforcement, among other bills that earned his signature, and vetoed two others.

Mapp’s letter to Senate President Neville James [see letter here] announcing the actions is dated Thursday.

On Thursday evening the governor vetoed 31-0299, which would have established the Legislative Reinvestment Initiative Fund. The bill would have allocated $100,000 for each of the 15 senators – a total of $1.5 million – to the fund, to be distributed at the discretion of the lawmakers. Mapp said he favored greater support non- profit organizations, but he found the bill as written "problematic."

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The governor noted that some members of the 31st Legislature also had second thoughts on the measure. Senate President James wrote a letter Jan. 15 asking to governor to veto the measure, saying that in retrospect he thought it might violate the separation of powers doctrine.

The governor signed into law Bill 31-0145, which will fund the first phase of a forensic crime lab. Local law enforcement officials have long stated that sending evidence away for forensic analysis is both problematic and costly.

“This bill provides a first phase of funding to support our law enforcement efforts through forensic science,” Mapp wrote in his transmittal letter to James. “Let us work together to work to identify additional funding to ensure that the crime lab is opened, operational, and fully accredited by national standards.”

The second law enforcement measure, Bill No. 31-018, appropriates $100,000 to the Virgin Islands Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Impress Fund. The governor said that in order to effectively solve cases the VIPD must have a source of money that can be rapidly accessed. Funds will be used primarily for protecting and transporting witnesses and paying rewards as required.

Mapp urged senators to create a permanent source of funding for the Criminal Investigation fund and said that he welcomed any measure that would assist VIPD in combating crime.

The governor also approved legislation to repair the Horace Clark Ballpark in Frederiksted, determine safe occupancy of public buildings, provide for children proved through DNA testing to collect from the estate of a deceased parent, to better memorialize our veterans, to establish a daytime curfew for school age children, and to allow government employees to participate in public vehicle auctions.

The governor also vetoed a measure to reduce the size of the Casino Control Commission. Acknowledging that the Commission was not functioning as intended, he said greater concentration of power might create additional problems.

The Inspector General and Justice Department are currently conducting audit investigations of the agency and that those findings should be reviewed before any “far reaching changes to the organizational structure” should be implemented, Mapp said.

The governor also approved resolutions to honor Virgin Islanders, as well as a resolution to petition the United States Congress to offer full care medical service to all veterans living within the territory. 

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