With the Territory still adjusting to changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division of Festivals launched the first virtual Carnival in April of 2020. The long-awaited construction on the Paul E. Joseph stadium would require additional funds, per the request of the Governor, and budget hearings resumed with new COVID guidelines in place to ensure bills would be later vetted in the Committee on Rules and Judiciary.
The first quarter of 2020 presented a major threat not only to the Territory; Coronavirus COVID-19, a pandemic that was plaguing the entire world. Senators would go into Emergency Session to move legislation that would keep the Virgin Islands government afloat. Senators encouraged residents to stay in their homes and practice social distancing, but with the lack of enforcement Senator Sarauw called on the Governor to implement a shelter in place.
In the 4th quarter, the Committee on Rules and Judiciary kicked it into overdrive as over 46 board nominees and various bills were vetted and voted upon before being heard in Legislative Session for final approval. Senators also faced the ongoing WAPA crisis as issues were investigated in the Committee of the Whole and in December when Emergency Session was called by the Governor to address an immediate $6 million dollars payment to VITOL.
In the third quarter, Senator Sarauw and the Committee on Finance drilled down on the Fiscal Year Budget. The Committee on Rules and Judiciary continues the vetting process of the Governor’s nominees and we recognize some outstanding individuals who serve our community.
In the second quarter, the cultural anticipation builds as Culture Shock makes their final preparation for their grand debut. In the Legislature, a shift in the majority would see Senator Sarauw Chair the Rules and Judiciary Committee and the bill banning oxybenzone sunscreen would successfully pass out of Session, a definite benefit to the Virgin Islands environment.
In the first quarter, Senator Sarauw prepares and executes her annual events Stenographer Day and Sounds of the Virgin Isles. However, new to the mix was the execution of an idea that would revitalize a dwindling artform on St. Thomas. Moving forward, the Senator prepares new legislation that would address PSC regulations, loitering, education, and healthcare.
Productivity has been nonstop in the office of Senator Sarauw. On the agenda, the Senator and her office established the Legislature’s first Stenographer Day, “Putting People to Work” Job Fair, which brought employers and job seekers together on various job opportunities on St.Thomas, created a book drive to replenish the public school libraries, and chaired the Committee of Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs and Culture, to name a few. Legislation continue to move forward as the Apprenticeship Bill, Straw Ban Bill, and a Resolution to honor Lorna L. Freeman would move successfully into law before the end of the Senator’s term in the 32nd Legislature. Bill No. 32-0308, which establishes the Division of Festivals under the Department of Tourism, would also hit the Governor’s desk for approval.
In an effort to revitalize tourism to the Territory, Senator Sarauw along with members of the Legislature traveled to Florida to attend the annual Seatrade Conference. While there, members were exposed to the latest information and trends in the cruise ship industry.
Back at the office, Senator Sarauw’s staff along with the Department of Education would continue preparation for one of the biggest events to be held later in the month. “Sounds of the Virgin Isles” would be a night to remember showcasing the talents of the visual and performing arts students in the Public School system.
Senator Sarauw started the month of February in a Committee of the Whole meeting addressing zoning request applications in the Territory, which became apparent certain guidelines needed to change. A positive step in the communication infrastructure was also in the works, as PR Wireless Sprint Affiliate also updated the Senator with their plans for restoration.
Throughout the month, the Senator would address concerns on loitering, National Guard’s pay, and issues brought on in the aftermath of Irma and Maria. Before the end of the month, the good Senator would also provide guidance to a set of young Democrats as an invited keynote speaker to a meeting held by the Virgin Islands Young Democrats organized in St. Croix.
We are getting there. One step at a time. However, did someone say Tsunami? With a failure to receive an alert, Virgin Islands residents would quickly be reminded of the Territory’s communications issues.
During the month of January, Viya’s restoration efforts, Department of Education’s preparedness, the National Guards and VITEMA, were all brought to the senate floor. This month would also mark the Senator’s first hearing as Chairperson for the Committee on Workforce Development, Consumer Affairs, and Culture, which she is proud to serve.
“Tis the season to be jolly” and after two Cat5 hurricanes the Senator wanted to remind the people of the Territory to enjoy the holiday season. The “Miracle in the Garden” event did just as the Senator had planned. Many came together and joined in the festivities held at the Emancipation Garden.
The Senator also held an emergency Town Hall where many of the local contractors voiced their concerns about VIWMA’s contracting processes and lack of payments during the recovery period. Before moving into the new year, the Senator would set her sights on the Majority Caucus.
The month of November proved to be a busy month. Senator Sarauw and her staff continued to work on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands resolving issues brought on in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Senator also travelled with a delegation to Washington to discuss the recovery and stability of the territory post storms. Upon the Senator’s return, issues plaguing the Lovenlund apartments, the territory’s management of trash, the Governor’s Special Session, and the burning ban were brought to the table.