Sen. DeGazon’s bills on Blue Economy and Education Scholarships move forward
Bills from Sen. Allison L. DeGazon focused on sustainable blue economy and scholarships for adult education students were voted on favorably on Friday and sent to the full body for further consideration.
Bill No. 33-0137, sponsored by DeGazon, is an Act authorizing the Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority to create a plan to assist the U.S. Virgin Islands in developing a sustainable blue economy within the Territory.
The world Bank defines the Blue Economy as the Sustainable use of Ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and jobs while preparing the health of ocean ecosystem.
The billion-dollar blue economy includes but is not limited to:
1) Conserving marine life and oceans
2) Creating jobs, reduces poverty and ends hunger
3) Sustaining fisheries & taking action against illegal fishing
4) Protecting against climate change
5) Harnessing renewable energy
6) Creating smarter shipping to lessen the impacts on the environment
DeGazon took suggestions from testifiers and addressed the issues immediately in the amendment, which included a definition for “blue economy,” designating DPNR as the lead agency, requiring stakeholders to seek funding and providing a one year enactment date after the legislation’s passing to complete the plan.
“The entire concept of blue economy has emerged over some time and through research and communications with other agencies in the government, we realized that the Virgin Islands is behind,” DeGazon said.
Her next bill, Bill No. 33-0102, is An Act amending 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.
According to DeGazon, limiting the scholarships to students attending college out of the territory would remove duplication of funds since UVI provides a similar scholarship for valedictorians and salutatorians.
The bill was also amended to address concerns from testifiers and committee members. It also changed the funding limitations for undergraduate and graduate scholarships from $2,000 to $5,000 and $4,000 to $7,000 respectively.
“The bill presented before you today is a true work of collaboration with the members of the Committee of Education and Workforce Development,” DeGazon said.
The office of Senator DeGazon continues to build momentum in the movement of bills through the legislative process.