Senate Creating New Unfunded Task Force

The V.I. Government will have a new unfunded mandate to create a new task force on crime and public health, involving the heads of many V.I. government agencies, if a bill approved in committee Wednesday is enacted into law.

The task force mandated by Bill 31-0005, sponsored by Sen. Janette Millin Young, would have to meet and perform tasks like conducting a cost-benefit analysis comparing preventative measures to criminal prosecution and produce reports for the Legislature.

When it was first heard in committee, agency officials testified in support of the concept of data sharing and interagency cooperation but objected to an unfunded mandate.

"As with almost anything, funding is usually a compelling consideration. Without it, research capabilities are limited and results can prove inefficient and, therefore, ineffective," Assistant Attorney General Joseph Ponteen testified April 8.

"The Department of Justice predicts that a great deal of man hours would be needed to conduct this type of research and investigation. While the goal this bill seeks to accomplish is an important one that would literally impact every resident and visitor to the territory, the costs associated with carrying it out cannot be discounted or dispelled," Ponteen said.

The committee on Health, Hospital and Human Services Committee unanimously voted to send the measure on to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary.

Voting yes were Sens. Marvin Blyden; Jean Forde; Novelle Francis; Justin Harrigan, Almando "Rocky" Liburd; Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly and Kurt Vialet.

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