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New Legislature Gets Crash Course in Legislating


Dec. 10, 2004 — Members of the 26th Legislature and staff concluded a two-day orientation program about the workings of the Senate Friday.
Though the Pre-Legislative Conference is geared to newcomers, several incumbents attended the proceedings as a refresher course and to educate new staff members.
Those attending the conference received an overview of the Senate's archives, facilities management, human resources, information systems management, journal, public affairs, security, software training, transportation and Post Audit divisions.
On Friday, attorney Tom Bolt and Supervisor of Elections John Abramson also addressed the group on various aspects of V.I. law, and the senators were given a course on bill writing.
Senator-elect Neville James said the orientation program was "well put together" by the 25th Legislature.
"Mr. Caines and his group has put together a very informative orientation, which will help us in the 26th Legislature," James said.
James said he enjoyed learning of the role of the Senate's central staff and the way it connects with the different senators.
"It appears to be a family-type atmosphere," James said.
Senator-elect Craig Barshinger said the orientation went well and was helpful to him.
"It was very professional," Barshinger said.
Incumbent Sen. Ronald Russell, in his second term, said he decided to attend the orientation as a "refresher course." Russell said he had attended the conference when he was elected in 2002 and wanted to see if there was anything new or different being taught to the freshman senators.
Sen. Louis Hill, also in his second term, attended the Friday session as well.
"I'm still learning," Hill said. "And it is always good to be educated."
Hill, a member of the Democratic minority, said he is looking forward to working in the 26th Legislature although he was "a bit disappointed" with the committee assignments given to him. He was selected to serve on the Education, Culture and Youth Committee; the Government Operations and Consumer Protection Committee; and the Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee.
"I would have loved to serve on the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection," Hill, who is currently chairman of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, said.
He added, "I do still plan to continue my advocacy for environment protection and coordinated and proper planning."
Hill had been working alongside Sen. Usie Richards on legislation for a Land and Water Use Plan. Hill said he hopes that Richards, member of the consensus majority and sponsor of the bill, will "continue to make it a priority."
Hill said he would continue in his efforts at reform for the Government Employees Retirement System.
"The bill is ready, and as soon as the 26th Legislature is sworn in, I will ask for it to be performed," Hill said.
Other senators and senators-elect attending Friday's session were Lorraine L. Berry, Richards, Liston Davis, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Juan Figueroa-Serville and Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion.

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