DeJongh OKs Renaissance renovation, water park permit, Constitutional Convention
Published: September 12, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - Gov. John deJongh Jr. took action on multiple bills Tuesday, approving a permit for a major hotel renovation of the old Renaissance Grand Beach Resort property, a bill to develop a water park on St. Croix and a measure to convene the Constitution Revision Convention.
DeJongh vetoed several measures, too, including a Carnival exemption to the noise pollution law, a measure to have government financial data posted on a website and a bill to develop a lionfish strategy for the government.
The governor approved a Coastal Zone Management permit for Wyndham St. Thomas Development LLC to conduct a $19-million renovation to the 290-room property, which has been shuttered for years. Senators said the renovation is supposed to bring 136 permanent jobs and about 160 temporary ones in construction.
In January 2007, Wyndham St. Thomas Development bought the property for $31 million.
The permit approved by the governor will restore the existing dock, create a 180-foot protected swim area with a water trampoline, and replace the reverse osmosis intake and outfall lines.
DeJongh approved a bill to build "the St. Croix Cultural, Historical and Ecological Adventure Park" and direct the V.I. Property and Procurement Department, the V.I. Economic Development Authority and the V.I. Tourism Department to solicit the proposals. The bill requires the solicitation process to be completed within six months and suggests that it include "opportunities for private-public partnership," potentially including the issuance of private activity bonds through the V.I. Public Finance Authority.
DeJongh approved a measure establish the Fifth Revision Convention that would include the 30 elected delegates to the Fifth Constitutional Convention and a nonvoting, five-member legal team.
The new law imposes an Oct. 31 deadline requiring the Fifth Revision Convention, by a two-thirds vote of the Fifth Constitutional Convention, to adopt a new draft document. If a new draft is not adopted, both the Fifth Revision Convention and the Fifth Constitutional Convention would be dissolved.
A bill to increase the cap on workers' compensation claims for police officers, firefighters and other public safety employees was signed into law by deJongh. The measure increases the maximum amount the government will pay out to a Class III employee if they are injured on the job from $250,000 to $750,000.
The governor signed two bills dealing with prisons in the territory into law Tuesday.
One would classify mobile phones, laptops and other electronic communication devices as "dangerous prison contraband."
The other would criminalize sexual relations between prison employees and inmates or detainees.
Other bills signed
- A bill to amend the Motorcycle Safety Education Act of 2009 by adjusting fees and changing the requirement for the V.I. Motor Vehicles Bureau to approve helmets and other safety gear sold for use while operating a motorcycle.
- A bill that would require a government-wide review of voice, data and Internet contracts.
- A bill that would allow the V.I. Motor Vehicles Bureau to issue identification cards to disabled persons to be used as adequate documentation of disability in lieu of a physician's determination of disability.
- Authorization to borrow $10 million to pay a backlog of unpaid worker compensation claims.
- A bill to update and strengthen the laws regarding underage drinking. The new law penalizes an establishment that serves to minors, and imposes a legal liability on parents and guardians who allow their minor children and other minors to drink.
- A bill that would regulate - and provide tax incentives to - international banking centers with operations in the territory.
- A bill to bring the territory in line with federal standards for apprenticeship programs.
- A bill that would provide an exemption to the noise pollution control law for Festival and other local holiday activities and cultural festivities. In his transmittal letter, deJongh said the measure would "rip a gaping loophole in the heart of the statute by permitting virtually unlimited noise on any weekend for the year until 3:00 o'clock a.m. on Saturday and Sunday morning, and even Monday morning if that day happens to be on a holiday."
- A bill that would appropriate $150,000 from the Fish and Game Fund to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to develop a strategy to control the populations of lionfish and other invasive aquatic species was also vetoed. DeJongh said the legislation is needed, but the federal Fish and Game Fund is not a fund from which the Senate can appropriate money.
- A requirement that the V.I. Bureau of Technology create an online searchable database of budget data for all governmental departments and agencies.