Home News Local news Senate Overrides Veto to Enact Youth Commission

Senate Overrides Veto to Enact Youth Commission


The V.I. Senate voted to override Gov. John deJongh’s veto Thursday and mandate the reestablishment of the long-defunct Virgin Islands Commission on Youth, giving its volunteer members broad oversight over all programs in all agencies affecting youth in the territory.

When deJongh vetoed the Youth Commission act, along with several other related measures, Government House issued a statement saying the measure would create an unfunded commission whose purpose other existing groups are better suited to engage.

During committee hearings on the bill, Sen. Janette Millin-Young, the bill’s sponsor, said the original commission became defunct during the 1980s, after a governmental reorganization under Gov. Alexander Farrelly. She suggested the board will help the territory capture more federal funds and ensure that programs for youth meet their needs.

The bill calls for an 11-member commission, nominated by the governor and approved by the Legislature, where at least five members are under the age of 22, of which at least two are full-time students at the University of the Virgin Islands, with members divided among the three major islands.

The commission would have a full-time executive director, also nominated by the governor. The bill summary says the commission would be "charged with the administration, coordination, implementation and supervision of all programs related to youth within the territory of the Virgin Islands."

Within the bill, the commission is directed to collaborate with government agencies in the implementation of youth programs; to collect and maintain statistics and data on territorial youth programs; and to monitor all youth programs and submit an annual report with recommendations to the governor.

It is also given the power to accept gifts and donations for youth programs.

The bill specifies this commission would meet at least four times a year and members would be compensated $75 for each meeting.

Voting to override the governor’s veto were: Millin-Young, Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Alicia "Chucky" Hanse, Neville James, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly, Ronald Russell Patrick Sprauve and Alvin Williams. Sen. Louis Patrick Hill voted nay. Sen. Usie Richards abstained. Sen. Celestino White was absent. Russell said White was out recovering from an illness.

“The Youth Commission has been one of the most successful institutions in reaching out to young people and establishing youth programs that actually served the needs of our young people. For that reason, re-establishing the commission was one my top priorities when I entered the Legislature last year,” Millin-Young said in a statement after the session.

The senate also overrode deJongh’s veto of a bill to move the date of the primary to August in order to bring the territory into compliance with the Military And Overseas Voters (M.O.V.E.) Act, another measure sponsored by Millin-Young. As originally proposed, the bill would have applied immediately to all territorial elections. During session, April 20, it was amended to apply only to the federal election for delegate in 2012, then apply generally thereafter. As before, Richards voted nay, White was absent and the rest of the body voted yea.

Also enacted over the governors’ veto was a measure initially proposed by O’Reilly requiring that prior to foreclosing on a home, the foreclosing parties must provide the court with evidence that a good faith effort was made to settle the matter through mediation.

In other business, the Senate approved the transfer of V.I. government-owned Smith Bay and Lindqvist beach to the Magens Bay Authority, which already manages the property.

Also approved were two zoning matters:

  • Haresh and Namrata Udhwani were granted a use variance to the existing R-3 residential-medium density zoning to allow them to operate as a retail store and importer of goods, at their property on parcel 69-3 Estate Contant from R-3 residential medium density to B-3 business scattered;
  • Donna Lee Miles was granted a spot rezoning for parcel 3B-2 Estate Charlotte Amelie from R-2 residential low density one and two family to B-3 Business scattered to allow the owner to convert the property to office space.


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