Sen. Allison DeGazon’s bills on agriculture, infrastructure and education make progress
Sen. Allison L. DeGazon closed out January on a good note with two bills moving towards the governor’s desk and another moved towards the Committee on Rules and Judiciary.
Most recently, on Tuesday, Jan. 28 Bill No. 33-0102—sponsored by DeGazon--passed favorably from the Committee on Education and Workforce Development. The bill amended title 17, chapter 15, section 190u of the Virgin Islands Code by including graduates of the Adult Education Center among those eligible to receive scholarships as valedictorian and salutatorian.
Although the Virgin Islands Board of Education acknowledged that adult education students received scholarships, it was noted that it was important to have it codified and not simply assumed as it had been over the years.
While there were concerns about a funding source, it should be noted that valedictorian and salutatorian scholarships are funded at $25,000 and $17,000, respectively from the current year’s budget. The amendment would not affect the cost as BOE noted they were already providing the scholarships.
According to BOE the $6,000 and $4,000 amounts were not financially feasible, thus other amendments included halving the amounts to $3,000 and $2,000 for valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, and those attending the University of the Virgin Islands would not receive the scholarship because they would be attending for free under the university’s 4-year scholarship.
Meanwhile, Bills No. 33-0065 and 33-0037—focusing on agriculture and infrastructure in the Virgin Islands--were forwarded to the Governor for consideration.
Bill No. 33-0037 is an act requiring the Office of the Governor to establish an interagency committee to develop a storm-water management plan for the benefit of agriculture and to seek technical support and assistance from the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Geological Survey, and for the Government of the Virgin Islands to submit a request for funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or other appropriate federal department or agency for adequate funds to execute and maintain the storm-water management plan.
Bill No. 33-0065 tasks the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to conduct and aquifer study and the Department of Agriculture to development and implement a Well Water Drilling Unit in each district to provide a mechanism by which farmers registered with the Department of Agriculture can access reliable and consistent water supply sources.