Members of the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee approved a number of bills Monday, including a measure that makes changes to the territory’s election laws. Two bills failed to move out of committee, one to make government employees buy gas for their government vehicles and one to create a special conference to develop the government’s revenue forecasts.
The elections bill passed Monday is separate from the election reforms recently submitted to the V.I. Legislature by the Joint Board of Elections. The bill considered Monday, sponsored by Sen. Usie Richards, was based on legislation submitted by prior boards of elections. Through amendments passed Monday, much of the bill’s language was removed, leaving only a few items in the measure.
The bill in its current state clarifies definitions, prevents board members running for office from participating in election activities and gives the boards of elections the discretion to use the legal counsel provided by the attorney general’s office or hire outside counsel. It also raises the per diem pay for election workers.
The measure had included a provision to allow early voting and to allow voter registration by mail, but that language was removed from the bill before it was passed Monday.
The elections reform proposal recently submitted by the Joint Board of Elections has been taken up by another senator and likely will come through the Senate committee process in the future.
Of the two bills failing to pass Monday, the first bill failed in a tie vote and remains in committee.