U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature: Bill to Restructure Magens Bay Authority Board of Directors Advances, Nominations and Bills Move Forward


ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands, Nov. 21 -- The U.S. Virgin Islands legislature issued the following news release on Nov. 20:

Members of the Committee on Rules and Judiciary chaired by Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw, convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Thursday, to receive testimony and vote favorably for Bill No. 33-0374 - An Act amending Title 32 of the Virgin Islands Code relating to the Magens Bay Authority Board of Directors to change the composition of the Board and the method of appointing members. Additionally, lawmakers voted and approved nominations and bills. All approved items will be forwarded to the Full Body for further consideration.

The measure seeks to change the Magens Bay Authority Board of Directors by restructuring the Board of Directors and decreasing the terms of the members from six years to three years. Furthermore, the bill replaces the Governor as a Board member with a representative from the Office of the Governor, mandates the President of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands to appoint one member, and requires the professional experience of four members. Magens Bay Authority Board of Directors Chairperson Katina Coulianos noted that the political affiliation of the Magens Bay Authority is against the will of Arthur Fairchild who granted the deed of the land to the People of the Virgin Islands to be managed by a self-perpetuating Board with longevity; in accordance to the founding documents formalized into law. Coulianos further mentioned that by changing the Board, there can be challenges caused by the lack of quorum and/or board members.

Sen. Janelle Sarauw stated that advancing this legislation ensures the inclusion of the representation of the culture of the Virgin Islands at Magens Bay because presently it does not. "Within a socio-cultural context, food and music is a big deal. We have the right to showcase our culture, music, and food and that should not be absent from the beach. We have to acknowledge the history of our people," said Sen. Sarauw. "Upholding a 1946 thought process of colonialism does not apply to 2020. I am still waiting for the cultural product at Magens Bay and it is lacking. We are asking for a change, yet the present Board is apprehensive. If the Board was open to change then there will not be a need for this legislation today."

Separately, policymakers voted favorably for four nominations. The nominations are sent to the Legislature by Governor Albert Bryan; set forth from Section (16) of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, and Title 3, Section 65a of the Virgin Islands Code. The nominees are listed below:

* Marvin Pickering, Chairman, The V.I. Casino Control Commission, St. Croix District

* Ronan O. David, Esq., Director, The V.I. Division of Gaming Enforcement

* Kai A. Nielsen, The V.I. Coastal Zone Management Commission, St. Croix District

* Kai M. Smith, The V.I. Coastal Zone Management Commission, St. Thomas District

However, the following measure was removed from the agenda: Bill No. 33-0220 An Act providing for the construction of ramps or walkways at least two beaches in each island district that would allow persons with disabilities access to the beaches (Sponsored by Senator Steven D. Payne, Sr., Senator Oakland Benta, Senator Myron D. Jackson, Senator Marvin Blyden)

Lastly, lawmakers voted and approved the following bills:

* Bill No. 33-0303- An Act amending Title 32 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 21, Article XIV, sections 604(d), 607(d) and (e), 610 (a) and (c), 625(a) and (c), 634, 637, and 638 relating to Internet Gaming and Gambling licensing and fees requirements and matters related thereto (Sponsored by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Senator Kurt A Vialet)

* Bill No. 33-0439- An Act establishing an amnesty period until June 30, 2021, for the waiver of penalties for payment of outstanding income taxes and the waiver of interest and penalties for payment of outstanding gross receipt taxes and real property taxes for all tax years and to require the Director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue to publish information on this amnesty (Sponsored by Senator Donna Frett-Gregory)

* Bill No. 33-0004- An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code title 3, chapter 5 adding subchapter III to enact The Virgin Islands Public Art Program Act requiring one percent of total capital improvement project costs to be expended for works of art placed in government buildings (Sponsored by Senator Myron D. Jackson)

* Bill No. 33-0362- An Act appropriating $900,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority for certain improvements to the Loredon Lorence Boynes Sr. Ferry Terminal at Cruz Bay, St. John (Sponsored by Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, Senator Oakland Benta, Senator Allison L. DeGazon, Senator Athneil Thomas, Senator Marvin Blyden, Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff, Senator Myron D. Jackson, Senator Steven D. Payne, Sr.)

* Bill No. 33-0376- An Act requiring the Department of Agriculture to develop a territorial agriculture plan and providing an appropriation of $180,000 from the General Fund to the Department of Agriculture to assist with developing the plan (Sponsored by Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, Senator Kurt A. Vialet, Senator Dwayne M. DeGraff, Senator Allison DeGazon, Senator Athneil Thomas)

* Bill No. 33-0041 An Act amending Title 3, chapter 9 of the Virgin Islands Code by adding a new subchapter establishing requirements for the construction and repair of roads and highways within the Territory of the Virgin Islands (Sponsored by Senator Steven D. Payne Sr., Senator Oakland Benta)

* Bill No. 33-0250- An Act amending Title 3, chapter 9, section 134a, subsection (b) of the Virgin Islands Code, relating to the duties of the Department of Public Works, Division of Capital Improvement in administering and coordinating capital improvement projects, to require that a Front- End Engineering and Design is completed for each capital improvement project of the various departments and agencies of the Government of the Virgin Islands before the procurement of engineering and construction services (Sponsored by Senator Alicia Barnes, Senator Marvin Blyden; Co-Sponsored by Senator Allison DeGazon, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory)

* Bill No. 33-0351- An Act providing an amnesty for property owners who have enclosed or have started to enclose the remaining usable space under their houses without submitting building plans to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for approval or without the issuance of a building permit and the enclosed space or the space to be enclosed does not exceed the boundary of the existing structure (Sponsored by Senator Athneil Thomas, Senator Marvin Blyden


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