Virgin Islands Law Blog

Virgin Islands Law Blog

U.S. Virgin Islands law & politics

Category Archives: Government Relations

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USVI Senate Considers Expanded Preferred Vendor Status to Local Contractors

Posted in Government Relations
Bill No. 30-0438, a U.S. Virgin Islands Senate bill approved in committee at the end of October could, if passed, pave the way for local contractors to receive additional priority when bidding for government contracts in the territory. Local contractors already have significant standing when it comes to government contracts. Under the terms of the … Continue Reading

Zozaya: Putting Politics Aside Would Help USVI Tourism

Posted in Community Affairs, Government Relations
At the 2014 State of the Industry Conference organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in St. Thomas, keynote speaker Apple Leisure Group CEO Alex Zozaya emphasized the importance of keeping politics and bureaucracy out of the tourism industry if it’s expected to grow. Instead, Zozaya said, tourism should be run like the business that it … Continue Reading

USVI Government to Guarantee Developer Leases

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services, Government Relations, Real Estate
A bill recently passed in the U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature would allow the Government of the Virgin Islands to guarantee up to $20 million of hotel developers’ leases for up to 25 years, a move that supporters cheered as a boon to the islands’ economic development. Under the legislation, the Public Finance Authority would have … Continue Reading

Public Finance Authority Sells Nearly $50 Million in Bonds to Fund Projects

Posted in Community Affairs, Government Relations
In a move that Governor John deJongh, Jr., said would help the U.S. Virgin Islands fund projects already approved by the senate, the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (PFA) sold $49.6 million in bonds at the end of August. Among other projects, the funds will provide working capital to territorial hospitals and the general fund, … Continue Reading

Officials Continue to Discuss Unified Court System

Posted in Government Relations
The U.S. Virgin Islands Supreme Court and Superior Court remain locked in a debate over the authority the Supreme Court would be allotted if the two systems merged, the courts’ heads said during budget testimonies in July before the 30th Legislature’s Committee on Finance. Although both courts are in favor of merging into one entity, … Continue Reading

Police, Fire Retirements May Stress Public Services in US Virgin Islands

Posted in Community Affairs, Government Relations
During recent budget hearings before the Finance Committee of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, police and fire officials alerted the Virgin Islands Senate that their agencies, chronically understaffed already over the last few years, may be in even worse shape in the coming months and years. According to the officials, an unprecedented number of … Continue Reading

US Virgin Islands Businesses Gain Access to USDA’s REAP

Posted in Government Relations
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offered a seminar on best practices last month to local businesses at the U.S. Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center. The informative seminar, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office, aimed to educate small business owners about resources and options it has available for sustaining … Continue Reading

Governor Vetoes Tax Break Changes for RT Park Businesses

Posted in Corporate & Financial Services, Government Relations
In a controversial move, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh has vetoed a bill that would have widened the variety of businesses at Kingshill’s Research and Technology (RT) Park deemed eligible for considerable tax breaks. The tax breaks are incentive benefits bestowed by the RT Park to its tenants at the park, preventing them from … Continue Reading

Bill in U.S. Virgin Islands Legislature Could Hurt Local Employers

Posted in Government Relations, Labor & Employment
A proposed bill before the Legislature of the Virgin Islands has the potential to hurt employers and business owners throughout the Territory and inhibit expansion of small businesses. Bill No. 30-0349, known as the Virgin Islands Healthy Workplace Act of 2014, aims to address issues like bullying, abuse and harassment at work — which the … Continue Reading

U.S. Virgin Islands Ban on E-Cigarettes for Minors: Are They Really Dangerous?

Posted in Government Relations
A recent bill put forth in the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes and nicotine vaporizers to minors. The bill also bans other alternative tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff. Senator Sammuel Sanes sponsored Bill 30-0268, as did co-sponsors Senators Kenneth Gittens and Diane Capehart. On March 21, … Continue Reading

U.S. Virgin Islands Government Workers Will Soon Receive Mandatory Assessments

Posted in Government Relations
The Government Employee’s Service Commission Health Insurance Board recently passed an important change to territorial government worker health policies in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The new rule stipulates that active government employees and retirees under the age of 65 are required to receive health risk assessments. The alternative is to pay a steep financial penalty, … Continue Reading

Could the U.S. Virgin Islands Face Bankruptcy Issues Like Detroit?

Posted in Community Affairs, Government Relations
Recent concerns surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands’ growing debt has led some to wonder whether the territory might soon face bankruptcy issues similar the city of Detroit, Michigan. Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, and was declared eligible on December 3 of the same year. The municipal bankruptcy filing was the … Continue Reading

New FERC Order Lifts Renewable Energy Obstacles

Posted in Government Relations
A new ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened the doors to connect more solar arrays and wind farms to the power grid. FERC’s new ruling in Order 792, updates its existing rules for small generators to reflect the latest developments in the energy storage field. The new order adds energy storage … Continue Reading

VI Attorney General OK’s Internet Gaming Law

Posted in Government Relations
The Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission and the Office of the Governor recently confirmed the legality of the "Virgin Islands Internet Gaming Act".  “This marks a turning point in the diversification of our gaming industry from land-based casinos and racinos, to internet gaming. The implementation of this Act will fulfill our mission of attracting very successful … Continue Reading

The Latest News on Wind Energy in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Posted in Government Relations
The U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Road Map, an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy thinks so.  Today’s state-of-the-art commercial equipment usually captures about 45% of the available energy in the wind when operating at  maximum efficiency.  Nonetheless, wind power is thought to be among the lowest cost renewable … Continue Reading

Dram Shop Act Signed Into Law by VI Governor

Posted in Government Relations
Last Friday, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. deJongh signed into law Act No. 7485 amending Title 8, Virgin Islands Code by adding Chapter 8.  This new law shields individuals who serve and sell alcoholic beverages to persons of drinking age from liability.  Thel legislation, however, does not extend the liability exemption to those selling or furnishing alcoholic beverages … Continue Reading

USVI Delegate Appeals to President Obama for Declaration

Posted in Government Relations
In response to the closure of the HOVENSA oil refinery, the United States Virgin Islands single largest private employer, the Territory’s Delagate to Congresss, Donna Christensen, is pursuing an Economic Disaster Declaration by President Obama. “I know that is what the car industry got, and while this is on a smaller scale, for our territory, with its 110,000 … Continue Reading

Bill Will Allow Virgin Islands Access to Federal Funding

Posted in Government Relations
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo has introduced the "Territories Economic Development Opportunities Act," which allows the U.S. territories to participate in federal government-funded highway discretionary programs. Such programs include funding for ferries or ferry terminals, as well as the Federal Bridge Program. Current law prohibits the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern … Continue Reading

Governor deJongh Submits FY2012 Budget

Posted in Government Relations
Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. submitted his $1.2 billion Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal to the the 29th Legislature of the Virgin Islands on Friday. Of the total budget, $731.3 million would come from the General Fund – $50.6 million less than the FY 2011 budget. The remaining budget would derive revenues from federal funds and special … Continue Reading