Senators table deJongh's borrowing bill, replacing it with their own plan


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ST. THOMAS - In a Senate session that began Wednesday and ended in the early hours of today, legislators scrapped the governor's borrowing plan and substituted one of their own.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. sent proposed legislation to the Senate last week to borrow $169 million. In his proposal, $99 million of that would be backed by Gross Receipts taxes, the rest would be borrowed using GARVEE bonds, which are repaid with future annual federal highway funding.

Senators voted to table the bill indefinitely at Wednesday's session and voted to replace it with a new bill special-ordered to the agenda just before midnight.

The bill authorizes the government to re-issue a working capital loan in the amount of $50 million.

The loan must be paid back in 270 days, and a number of conditions must be met - including the formation of a task force to investigate and report back to the Senate on a number of things.

The bill also reprograms a number of previous appropriations to bring in more money to the territory.

Other bills passed at the session include:

- A bill to enact the Virgin Islands Home Invasion Act, which established a new criminal charge for home invasions.

- A bill to establish a public corporation, under the Government Employees' Retirement System, to hold the assets of the Lonesome Dove Petroleum Company. All annual revenues from the corporation will go to the GERS to pay down the unfunded liability.

- A bill requiring the V.I. Motor Vehicles Bureau to develop and implement a vehicle emissions control and car inspection program.

- A bill to provide for territorial administrative control, supervision, licensure and regulation of the practice of physical therapy.

- A bill to deter people from filing false claims against the government.

- A bill adding a provision to include chemical changes to controlled substances in the list of controlled substances. The provision is designed to criminalize changing the chemical composition of a controlled substance with the intent to emulate or simulate the effects of synthetic cannabinoids or other controlled substances.

- A bill to transfer the Massac Nursing Home from the V.I. Human Services Department to the V.I. Sports, Parks and Recreation for a sports facility and boxing gymnasium.

- A bill to build a statue of boxing champion Emile Griffith at the St. Thomas ballpark named after him.

- A bill to reprogram money to repair the Estate Profit Concession Center and the La Reine Fish Market.

- A bill creating an annual scholarship for Virgin Islands students studying emergency management.

- A bill to designate the month of October as "Disability History Month."

- A bill extending the appointments of the members of the territory's racing commissions.

- A bill to facilitate the solar energy project planned for Donoe.

- A bill relating to the development of marine tourism in the Virgin Islands.

- A bill to amend the use of the Community Facilities Trust Fund for various community facilities and urban development projects.

- A resolution to honor Bianca Eugenie Maduro Andre for her dedication and commitment to the youth of the Virgin Islands.

- A resolution to posthumously honor Legislature photographer Kenneth Christopher and name the control room at the Lawaetz Conference Room on St. Croix after him.

- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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