Home News Local news Turnbull Signs Bills, But Vetoes Review Board

Turnbull Signs Bills, But Vetoes Review Board


March 6, 2005 – Gov. Charles W. Turnbull late Saturday signed the Omnibus Justice Act of 2005, but not before vetoing several sections of the bill, including a section calling for a Law Enforcement Review Commission.
Turnbull also approved four bills in their entirety, including the rezoning of land near the Bovoni landfill for the operation of a tire shredder. The governor, for the second time, also wielded his veto against the Animal Cruelty Bill. (See "News Brief: Governor Vetoes Anti-Animal Cruelty Bill").
In a letter to Senate President Lorraine Berry Sunday, Turnbull informed the Legislature that, although he is not opposed to a review commission in principle, he had to veto the section in the Omnibus Justice Act calling for the review commission.
The governor said he had no choice but to veto that section in its entirety because it "infringes upon the duties" of the V.I. Superior Court and the V.I. Department of Justice due to its quasi-judicial powers.
"In essence, a review commission should essentially review investigations, findings and recommended penalties of the Internal Affairs Unit, investigate systemic problems within the V.I. Police Department, and not address day-to-day disciplinary matters that should be handled internally through the administrative grievance procedure," Turnbull wrote.
Turnbull's decision comes as a relief to the Police Department whose commissioner Elton Lewis had objected to the broad powers granted to the review commission in the legislation. (See "Police Oppose Provisions of Law Enforcement 'Omnibus Act").
Turnbull also vetoed a section calling for the territory to adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence, saying the language did not allow the government to tailor the legislation to suit the territory.
The governor also line-item vetoed other sections of the Omnibus Act, although he didn't give clear reasons for his actions, including a section calling for penalties of unauthorized use of government credit cards and a section appropriating $500,000 to the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department.
The four bills approved by the governor in their entirety are:
– A bill providing for the rezoning of land near the Bovoni landfill for the operation of a tire shredder.
– An amendment clarifying ambiguous language regarding intellectual property rights in the legislation authorizing the University of the Virgin Islands' Research and Technology Park.
– A bill providing for an increase in the fines for school vandalism and authorizing the collected fines be placed into the imprest accounts of the vandalized schools for use to help defray the costs of repairing the damage that occurred.
– The Financial Services Act, a bill calling for reform of the territory's banking system.
Although he approved the Financial Services Act in its entirety, Turnbull admonished the senators to mandate that the banks in the territory bear the cost of required examination fees and that a portion of the revenues be given to the Lieutenant Governor's Office to cover the cost of the additional responsibilities.
"Absent adequate funding, implementation will be stalled," Turnbull wrote.
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