Working For Results: 2021 2nd Quarter Report
Updated: Jul 29
Message From the Senator
The second quarter of 2021 has been rewarding as I continue to work to garner results for the people of the Virgin Islands. A year ago, through this platform, I discussed with you what was discovered about the novel coronavirus and its threat to our way of life. Today, we are still working through the global coronavirus pandemic and developing mitigation plans to further reduce the impact of the virus on our community. To achieve greater normalcy, as an elected leader I would like to encourage Virgin Islanders who have yet to be vaccinated to seriously consider getting vaccinated, sooner rather than later
2021 has been challenging and addressing the bread-and-butter issues remains my priority. During the second quarter, I was able along with several of my colleagues to introduce legislation to return the 8% reduction to affected government employees. This bill is working its way through the vetting process and if enacted, government employees will be returned their 8% by December 2021.
As your elected representative my priority remains ensuring that at the end of my tenure that I have passed legislation that makes the Virgin Islands Better for Virgin Islanders. This is done through the introduction of legislation and utilizing the oversight power granted. My efforts will be highlighted later.
I would like to take a minute to reflect on this graduation season. The graduation of our high school and University of the Virgin Islands students reaffirmed my faith in the resiliency, determination, brilliance, and power of Virgin Islanders. We saw approximately 650 graduates, who despite and against the challenges thrown at them walk across the stage to accept their diploma or degree. They put in the work needed and achieved their goal. I take this time again to say what I said at the graduations, “Congratulations, I am proud of you, grow into your potential and do not stop if you come upon an obstacle, work through or around it and keep learning. We have unlimited potential, and we must lay the foundation that these Virgin Islanders can build upon.”
Since taking office on January 12, 2021, Senator Frett-Gregory submitted more than ninety (90) pieces of draft legislations to the Legislature’s Legal Counsel.
Below you will find the Senator’s priority legislation for the third quarter.
Bill No. 34-0073 - Federal Relief Funds Oversight Act, an act proposing a method in which to track, oversee and distribute information relating to federal stimulus funds and requiring that the legislature appropriates the funds while the executive branch will administer the funds.
Bill No. 34-0077 – 8% Repayment Bill, an act amending the FY 2021 Budget to restore the 8% reduction in salaries to the employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands pursuant to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruling of November 15, 2016.
Bill No. 34-0078 - Cancryn Property Transfer, an act proposing a transfer of the former Cancryn property to V.I Port Authority for use for its marine division, to further grow our economy by expanding and supporting shipping and storage facilities.
Bill No. 34-0079 - School Construction and Maintenance Bureau, an act proposing to create a separate bureau in the Department of Education to focus solely on school construction and maintenance, to ensure that there is a plan for building new schools, maintaining schools, and providing students with the best environment from which to learn.
BR 21-0027 - Victims Notification, an act proposing to require that victims of domestic violence be notified expeditiously regarding the release of their perpetrator and establishes a Victims’ Bill of Rights to support victims of crime throughout the justice process, requiring victims be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy.
BR 21-0043 - Pride Act of 2021, an act proposing mandates to ensure both government and privately owned property must be properly maintained, promotes the island beautification to boost VI pride, requiring that a certain percentage of products sold in the vendor’s plaza are made in the Virgin Islands and imposing certain fines for violators.
BR 21-0539 - EDA Beneficiary Amendments Act, an act proposing to amend tax exemptions, tax subsidies, and benefit options for companies seeking economic development authority benefits in the territory.
****Visit legvi.org/bill-tracker to see a full list of Sen. Frett-Gregory's proposed and signed legislation.
Legislation Now Law
Senator Donna Frett-Gregory is focused on getting legislation enacting that will benefit the territory. Below are four (4) major pieces of legislation now law we think you show know about:
Bill No. 34-0019 - Resolution 1881, Honors and commends United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Ronaqua Russell A Resolution for her heroic achievements and extraordinary performance that resulted in her becoming the first African-American female aviator in the United States Coast Guard to receive the Air Medal.
Bill No. 34-0003 – Act 8444, An Act amending title 29 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, subchapter I, section 235(c) relating to the time period within which the Zoning Administrator must act on a building permit application submitted to the Department of Planning Natural Resources to set time limits; requiring the Department to implement an Electronic Permitting System; amending chapter 5 section 296 relating to fees and fines for building permits to require that three (3) percent of the fees collected under that section be deposited into the Department’s Reclamation Fund for maintaining the electric permitting system; and amending title 12, section 911(f)(4) relating to the Natural Resources Reclamation Fund to include three (3) percent of the fees collected in 29 V.I.C. 296 as a funding source for the Natural Resources Reclamation Fund.
Bill No. 34-0005 – Act 8445, An Act amending Title 3 Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 5, subchapter 1, section 65a, subsections (c), (d), and (e) relating to filling vacancies on boards and commissions to clarify the limitation on the number of governmental or quasigovernmental boards and commissions on which commissioners and directors of the Virgin Islands Government can serve, while serving on the board or commission of any autonomous or semi-autonomous agency; and for other related purposes.
Bill No. 34-0036 – Act 8454, An Act appropriating the excess debt service reserve funds for the outstanding Matching Fund Revenue Bonds to fund certain urgently needed capital projects across the Territory.
Senator Donna Frett-Gregory at Work!
Senate President Work
Ensuring that central staff, the backbone of the institution, has the resources and tools needed to perform their duties and provide support to members of the institution remains a priority. The installation of plexiglass on the floor was completed, and in person hearings resumed as of June 1st. The upgraded telephone system and computers were received in the second quarter and installation will be completed by the end of July 2021. The Facility Maintenance Staff in the St. Croix District received their uniforms.
The Senate President along with other members of the 34th Legislature recognized the wisdom in creating 3 subcommittees: GERS Restructuring, Solvency, and Economic Development, Energy and Infrastructure Development, and Public Safety and Health. These subcommittees are created to address three major areas of concerns that have been on the forefront of constituents’ list of grievances for many years. The subcommittees will provide the institution a mechanism in which collaborative work can be done and special focus can be given on crafting viable legislation to better the lives of the people of the Territory.
Further, these subcommittees will create smaller working groups comprised of subject matter experts that can efficiently, effectively and with a sense of purpose, draft consensus measure(s) that the body can adopt. It is expected that the subcommittees will be able to provide a final report on proposed legislation by August 31, 2021, so that we can adopt as many as possible with the new fiscal year budget. Your commitment to the people of the Virgin Islands is appreciated.
Legislative Youth Advisory Council
Recognizing the importance of the Legislative Youth Advisory Council set out by Title 2 Chapter 9 of the Virgin Islands Code on October of 2011, Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory has reinstated the Council during the first quarter of this term.
The Legislative Youth Advisory Council members were selected during the second quarter. The first meeting of the Council will be on August 5, 2021 in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas with the St. Croix members participating from the Frits A. Lawaetz Legislative Hall. The Senate President will preside over the first session.
National Council Of State Legislatures (NCSL)
Senate President Frett-Gregory attended the National Council on State Legislators Spring 2021 Executive Committee in May 2021. During the meeting Senate President Frett-Gregory gave an in-depth interview with NCSL that will be published in the upcoming weeks. Further through attendance to this meeting, Senate President Frett-Gregory received a commitment from NCSL to visit the territory to provide training to members and staff of the Legislature.
Graduation Season 2021
This graduation season was a mixture of in-person, virtual and hybrid ceremonies. Sen. Frett-Gregory balanced her schedule to ensure that she was able to attend most of the graduations whether in-person or by prerecorded video.
Senator Frett-Gregory virtually attended the Charlotte Amalie High School, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, St. Croix Central High School, St. Croix Educational Complex and St. Croix Educational Vocational School throughout the month of May.
On Saturday, June 19, 2021, My Brothers Workshop held their graduation of 7 students who received their high school diplomas and trade certificates. Thrilled to be the keynote speaker selected, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory reminded students that while second chances exist, not all circumstances are created equal and that there are some circumstances that preclude the opportunity for a second chance. She wished them well in their future endeavors and is excited to see what they will do next.
In commemoration of Memorial Day this year, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory participated in an untraditional Memorial Day celebration at the Eastern Cemetery on St. Thomas.
Due to the pandemic the traditional afternoon parade was exchanged for quiet ceremony at the Eastern Cemetery where our local fallen soldiers lay to rest. In her remarks Senator Frett-Gregory reminded us that our duty is to ensure that the names of fallen Virgin Islanders and their memory are not lost to history, but that their service is always honored and remembered.
Committee of the Whole/Legislative Session
As presiding officer, Senator Frett-Gregory has held two Committee of the Whole hearings and one Legislative Session during the second quarter.
On April 15, 2021, the Committee of the Whole heard from V.I. Fire Services and the Department of Health in reference to the proposed Fire/EMS merger and with the V.I. Police Department relative to the reporting/handling of guns coming into the territory. We await the resubmission so that the
On June 23, 2021, the Committee of the Whole heard from the Governor’s financial team regarding federal funds received as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic and the plans for expenditure of those funds.
Legislative Session was held on May 4, 2021, wherein 10 nominations, 1 resolution and 14 bills were forwarded to the Governor for further action.
In addition to being the Chair of the Committee of the Whole, Senator Frett-Gregory is the Vice Chair of the Committee on Finance and is an active member of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development and the Committee on Economic Development and Agriculture. She also attends many other committee meetings where she is a non-member. Check out her outstanding attendance record for the past 7 months.
DFG in Action
Giving back to her community is important and Senator Frett-Gregory finds time to do so through her DFG Community Impact Foundation. With great passion for involvement in her community, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory continues to support the various senior citizen homes in the community. In April she donated hot meals for the annual Easter Lunch at the Celestino A. White Sr. Senior Citizens Home. In July, Senator Frett-Gregory donated all the fixings for their 4th of July holiday celebration.
Engaging With Our Children!
In June, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory was invited to attend a presentation on the work the VI Montessori students have been doing this past school year. These students embarked on a year-long project on how they can be a catalyst for change in saving our environment.
The students presented proposals on banning plastic bottles and recycling, requiring energy-efficient vehicles, and composting for agricultural purposes. They were also keen on the lack of enforcement of our existing environmental laws.
Their plea regarding our current environmental state was well received and gave me hope in knowing that our young people are cognizant of how we as humans are contributing to the breakdown in our environment. The Senator is looking forward to working with these 8th through 12 graders to see the ideas of these young activists become a reality!
Additionally, the Senator also engages in talks with young adults. Recently, she was a guest on the well-known teen talk show “Graffiti Street” on WTJX.
Women Leaders Forum
The Office of Senator Donna Frett-Gregory hosted “Saving Our Community, Planning Our Future,” Women Leaders Forum sponsored by the DFG Community Impact Foundation VI in May moderated by Dr. LaVerne E. Ragster and Dr. Noreen Michael. The forum created a space for influential female leaders across the Territory to share ideas on how best to solve issues impacting the women, children, and elderly in our community.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of invitees had to be limited, but that did not impact the quality of conversation and discussion surrounding key issues, specifically, improving access to quality mental health resources, reducing violent crime in the Territory by dismantling the school-to-prison pathway created in public education systems- specifically in our own community, creating a dependable support system for victims and survivors escaping their abusers/abusive households, from beginning to end, and finally how we can provide the elderly with the proper care, services, and facilities they need to live comfortably.
Senator Frett-Gregory is looking forward to working alongside her female colleagues who were in attendance to draft legislation to benefit the people of the Virgin Islands.
Kids Kitchen Initiative
Summer 2021, Senator Frett-Gregory launched through the DFG Community Impact Foundation V.I. Inc. the “Kids Kitchen” Summer Saturdays Meal Program. The program is scheduled to run from June 12th to July 31st. This program is geared toward providing meals to various communities in the St. Thomas/St. John District to aid in curbing food insecurity amongst our children. During this program, visited will be communities, weekend camps, and playgrounds to provide meals. The meals are pre-packaged for distribution in keeping with coronavirus protocols and guidelines.
Senator Frett-Gregory recognizes the importance of addressing matters that are impacting our community and she also recognizes that community members must do their best to give back even if it is only in a small way. The purpose of Kids Kitchen is to ensure that no child goes hungry by helping to close the gap of childhood hunger. The long-term goal of Kids Kitchen is to be able to provide meals every Saturday during the summer months at the various communities across the territory.
Many community partners have stepped up to assist with this program by provided food and monetary donations. This program also provides an opportunity for high school students to earn community service hours.
Committed to Developing Our Youth
Very committed to the development of our youth, this summer Senator Frett-Gregory participated in the Legislature summer program and hired Ms. Sakhshi Parwani as her summer intern. Ms. Parwani is a recent graduate of the Antilles School Class of 2021. Sakhshi has been learning and engaged in the various aspects of the legislative process particularly bill drafting, bill and zoning analysis, budget preparation and political marketing strategy.
In the fall, she will be attending American University, as a Political Science major on a pre-law track. Her career aspirations include becoming an attorney for the ACLU and one day a congresswoman. Sakhshi is interested in learning about many diverse fields including art, philosophy, data science, politics, and culture. She is also the DFG Community Impact Foundation V.I. 2021 Book Scholarship Recipient.
Get In Touch!!
Our office is always open to the entire Virgin Islands community to share concerns, ask questions, or pitch ideas that will positively impact our Territory.
You can reach us right here on the website via "Get Involved" or you can:
Honorable Donna Frett-Gregory
34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands
#1 Capitol Building
P.O. Box 1690
St. Thomas, VI 00804
In closing, Senator Donna Frett-Gregory is committed to serving her community through various initiatives and moving the territory forward through legislation that positively impact the Virgin Islands.
Get In Touch!!
Our office is always open to the entire Virgin Islands community to share concerns, ask questions, or pitch ideas that will positively impact our Territory. You can reach us right here on the website via "Get Involved" or you can:
Honorable Donna Frett-Gregory
34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands
#1 Capitol Building
P.O. Box 1690
St. Thomas, VI 00804