May 4, 2005 While nurses throughout the nation were preparing celebrations for National Nurses Week 2005, a small group of nurses were doing some celebrating of their own in the chambers of the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall Wednesday evening.
The nurses, who came over from the district of St. Croix, erupted in cheer as the 26th Legislature approved the Advanced Practice Nurse Prescription Act of 2005.
The bill, sponsored by Health Committee Chairman Sen. Usie Richards, had gathered much support in previous weeks from members of the medical community and the Senate body alike, so it was no surprise when the bill was approved with flying colors when it finally arrived on the Senate floor. The bill passed 14-0, with Sen. Pedro Encarnacion absent.
The measure seeks to allow advanced-practicing registered nurses to prescribe certain types of medication. The bill also sets licensure requirements and encourages advanced training.
Richards said it was fitting that the bill was before the Senate body near the start of National Nurses Week, which takes place from May 6 to 12 each year. Richards moved for an amendment to the bill to make technical changes, which he said would strengthen the language of the measure. Both the amendment and the bill passed.
"This bill is another benchmark for the improvement of nursing here in the Virgin Islands," Sen. Liston Davis said.
Sen. Ronald E. Russell said he hoped the Senate would now focus on malpractice insurance and health insurance for all residents of the territory.
In other action, Russell moved for the successful override of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's veto of legislation that would move the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands to St. Croix. The override was approved 10-3, with Davis not voting and Encarnacion absent. Sens. Craig Barshinger, Lorraine L. Berry, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste, Terrance "Positive" Nelson, Richards and Russell voted in the affirmative. Sens. Roosevelt David, Shawn-Michael Malone and Celestino A. White Sr. voted against.
"The moving of the capital is next," Russell said to his colleagues.
The Senate also unanimously approved three resolutions:
– One, sponsored by White, to honor and commend former educator Lucille Roberts posthumously.
– One, sponsored by Donastorg, to honor and commend Billy Mayo for winning the national title of Ms. Senior America Classic.
– One, sponsored by White and Richards, to condemn the institution of slavery and seek reparations from Denmark.
Richards had also sought an override of Turnbull's veto of the repeal of the "toilet tax," but failed. The tax is intended to raise revenues to fund the operations of the Waste Management Authority.
Members of the Senate minority also took the majority to task for language in the Financial Services Act, which was passed by the 26th Legislature in its first regular session. A section near the end of the bill reduces the time period for foreclosure from one year to 3 months. The Financial Services Act, sponsored by Berry, was intended to reform the territory's banking system.
"The people of the Virgin Islands must recognize that their homes could be lost in 90 days," Hill said. "It is imperative that we repeal this part of the law today."
However, no motion for the repeal was made. The minority opted to let the majority senators "sleep on it."
Berry reminded the minority that all of them with the exception of James and Hill had voted for the approval of the Financial Services Act about two months ago.
Regular session will resume Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
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