Home News Local news Rules Committee Tackles Supreme Court Bill, Archaic Marriage Law

Rules Committee Tackles Supreme Court Bill, Archaic Marriage Law


Jan. 29, 2006 – Popular in law enforcement circles for the last decade has been the "broken window theory," which says that if small infractions are not punished, a general disregard of the law will soon follow.
This is the basis sometimes cited for the draconian enforcement of seat belt laws in Virgin Islands.
It now appears that instead of issuing countless seat belt citations, V.I. law officers could have been doing something else: arresting all those women who did not take their husband's last name when they were married.
Let me explain.
According to Senate President Lorraine L. Berry, the law requiring women to take the same last name as their husband has been on the books since 1921. She introduced a measure Friday to the Rules and Judiciary Committee to repeal that law.
She said it did not apply to her personally, that she had taken the name of her husband. She added, however, that it did apply to many distinguished, professional women in the Virgin Islands.
Sen. Ronald Russell said that the Senate should update the law to what is commonly practiced. He said, "Everybody has already disregarded this law anyway."
Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson said he was amazed that such a law was on the books. He added, "I don't want to get between what a husband and wife decide to do," and we should repeal the law.
Reported out of the Rules Committee were also three bills concerning government reform (See "Rules Committee Sends Three Government Reform Bills to the Full Senate").
Berry also sponsored a bill to appropriate money to prepare the plans and specifications for the construction of the Supreme Court on St. Croix.
Russell said that this bill, which was moved to the full Senate, "will enable us to have a working court rather quickly, at least before the end of this administration." The bill would appropriate $650,000 for the design and engineering plans.
Also it would appropriate $1.6 million for the funding operations and staffing of the court.
A heavily amended bill covering sexual harassment in the workplace was also reported out of the committee.
A bill to redefine how military personnel can vote was held in committee. John Abramson, supervisor of the V.I. Board of Elections, had testified that this matter was being taken up in a comprehensive election reform bill.
Also held in committee was the Carnival Promotion Accountability Act. Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, sponsor of the bill had called in and said he could not attend the meeting.
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