Home News Local news TURNBULL ALTERS LAST BILL OF 1999



All but one section of the last bill passed by the Virgin Islands Senate in the 20th century was signed by Gov. Charles Turnbull Tuesday.
Turnbull vetoed a section of bill 23-0193, which was approved by the Senate on Dec. 15, the last session of 1999. At the session senators tacked on several amendments to a zoning bill.
In his transmittal letter to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Turnbull said he vetoed one section of the bill because it sought to change the way the government’s recent $300 million bond issue would be distributed.
The vetoed section would have increased the amount for working capital from $74 million to $75 million and added language to allow for the payment of $1 million of the V.I. Housing Finance Authority debt. The section would have also reduced the amount authorized for vendor payments.
Turnbull also said the vetoed section would have made the VIHFA and other government agencies "potential recipients of bond proceeds."
"As written, the amendment reallocates bond proceeds and places no limit on the amount of money that could be committed to these entities," Turnbull wrote. "Hence, in addition to the fact that the amount authorized for vendor payments has already been committed, this ambiguity creates a substantial change to the circumstances as they existed at the time we closed the bond deal.
"More importantly," Turnbull said, "bond counsel has informed us that any reprogramming of bond monies or a change in the recipients would create a situation which violates the terms of the bond documents."
Of the $300 million in bonds, some $136 million will go toward tax refunds, $46 million to pay vendors, $30 million for bonding services and escrow, $30 million to pay Banco Popular and $15 million to pay the government retirement fund. The balance will be used for covering payroll expenses.
Turnbull did sign the bill that bestows the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor on Judge Verne A. Hodge. The bill was proposed by Sen. Judy Gomez.
Hodge, who retired last November as presiding judge of Territorial Court — a position he held since the court was created in 1976 — was cited for his myriad accomplishments in the courtroom and the community.
One of his best-known contributions was the creation of the V.I. Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, which has won national and international recognition.


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