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  • Writer's pictureSen. Donna Frett-Gregory

Working For Results: 2023 1st Quarter Report

A Message From The Senator

Fellow Virgin Islanders, it remains my privilege and honor to serve you in the 35th Legislature. It has been a busy four months in the Legislature. This term I am serving as the Chair of the newly revamped Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance. In this capacity, I will steer the Legislature through the upcoming budget cycle as well as exercise oversight over the Government’s finances. Through the Budget, Appropriations and Finance Committee’s work several changes to budgeting and reporting will be adopted and as the changes are made, I will ensure that you remain updated.

On my Legislative agenda, I remained steadfast in my commitment to ensure the passage of legislation creating the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance. This measure separates the construction and maintenance of our schools from the Commissioner of Education so that the Department of Education can focus on its legislative mandate, the education of our children. I am pleased that my colleagues have unanimously supported the measure and look forward to the Governor’s support and immediate implementation.

While I am pleased about current legislative successes, there remains much to do. The state of our community remains one of my priorities. I am working closely with stakeholders on legislation that will resolve the issue of derelict properties in the territory and to address the beautification of neighborhoods across our territory. Creating pathways to homeownership for our residents is another initiative that I will continue to work on. The work begun in the 34th Legislature and I pledge to continue in the 35th Legislature and lend my voice to ensure moderate income families who otherwise would not qualify for federal homeownership programs are provided the opportunity to become homeowners in the territory.

I am excited about the work that I have started on your behalf in the 35th Legislature and look forward to having meaningful legislation enacted that creates a better Virgin Islands now and for generations to come.

Legislative Highlights

Legislation Now Law:

Act No. 8700: Funding Key Components of the Territorial Agricultural Plan

Committed to a sustainable local food market, Senator Frett-Gregory successfully moved legislation appropriating $2.2 million dollars to implement the Territorial Agricultural Plan. The Territorial Agriculture plan was developed by the University of the Virgin Islands and the Department of Agriculture pursuant to Bill No. 33-0376, now Act No. 8404, also sponsored by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory. With the adoption of Act No. 8700, the territory can establish the Agricultural Business Center to afford local farmers opportunities for assistance, hire staff to assist with the full implementation of the Territorial Agriculture Plan and move agriculture in the territory forward.

Legislation In The Pipeline:

Bill No. 35-0049: Establishing the Local Food and Farm Council

Ensuring the full implementation of the Territorial Agriculture Plan, Bill No. 35-0049 sponsored by Senator Frett-Gregory establishes the Local Food and Farm Council. The council will be responsible for making recommendations regarding existing law and the Territorial Agriculture Plan. The council will also collaborate with community stakeholders to research, explore and enhance food security options. Further the council will conduct community outreach programs, perform engagement surveys, and host town halls meetings.

Bill No. 35-0071: Resolution to Honor Mr. Kelly Charleswell. Sr.

This legislation honors and commends Mr. Kelly Charleswell, Sr., musician, educator and entrepreneur for his profound impact on music education within our territory, Virgin Islands culture and the music industry throughout the Caribbean. The 2023 Carnival Village will be named in his honor, and it is only fitting that he receives his accolades.

Bill No. 35-0026: Federal Home Loan Bank

Ensuring the financial solvency of insurers in the territory benefits the entire community. This legislation enables Virgin Islands insurers to become members of a Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, which makes homeownership more of an attainable goal for Virgin Islanders. The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York provides a source of funding to its members and ensures that our property insurance is safeguarded in the event of natural disasters.

Bill No. 35-0050: Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance

This legislation establishes the Bureau of School Construction and Maintenace, which will be responsible for maintaining public schools. This measure allows leadership of the Department of Education, including administrators and teachers, to focus primarily on student success.

Legislation On The Horizon:
  • Honoring Myron Corbett

    • This legislation will honor and commend Mr. Myron Corbett posthumously for his many contributions to the youth of the Territory.

  • Establishing the first Virgin Islands Telehealth Act

    • This legislation will establish the first Telehealth Act of the Virgin Islands, which allows your health care provider to care for you without an in-person office visit.

  • The Fair Chance Act

    • This legislation will remove arrest history from the hiring process to create equitable chances at employment for individuals with a criminal history.

  • Eliminating Suspension and Expulsion of Kindergarten to 3rd Graders

    • This legislation aims to protect our young students (grades Kindergarten through Third) from harsh and unnecessary punishment that limits access to quality education.

Chairing the Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance

As Chair of the Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance, Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory has held three (3) committee meetings since the convening of the 35th Legislature. In the Senator’s first meeting as Chair, the Committee received testimony from the Governor’s Financial Team on the overview of the financial status of the government of the Virgin Islands. The discussion covered the government’s operational budget and potential shortfalls, appropriation of ARPA funds, the issuing of social security check benefits and the status of tax returns.

During the March 14, 2023, committee meeting four lease agreements were considered. Three (3) of the lease agreements were for small businesses with initiatives for a trash removal service, providing bottled propane gas, and to establish a delivery trucking service. The final lease agreement considered was for the telecommunication company VIYA to lease property for a bunker for its wireless link connection. The four leases were favorably forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration and were adopted during Legislative Session on April 14, 2023.

In the most recent meeting held on April 4, 2023, three measures were considered. Two of the measures were proposed by Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Bill No. 35-0050 - Bureau of School Construction and Maintenance and Bill No. 35-0026 - Federal Home Loan Bank. The third measure on the agenda was Bill No. 35-0054 - Centenarian Lump Sum Payment. The three measures were all favorably forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration and were adopted during Legislative Session held on April 14, 2023.

In addition to being Chair of the Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, Senator Frett-Gregory is also the Vice Chair of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development and serves on the Committees on Economic Development and Agriculture and Health, Hospitals and Human Services.

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory At Work

Planting the Yellow Cedar

As part of Senator Frett-Gregory's legacy as the President of the 34th Legislature, the Senator along with former Senate President Myron Jackson planted the yellow cedar tree (the official flower of the Virgin Islands) on the grounds of the Legislature. This tree celebrates our identity as Virgin Islanders; its continued growth on the Legislature’s grounds will serve as a symbol of our progress and the impact of the meaningful work the Senator does as a legislator.

Girl Scout Day at the Legislature

Senator Frett-Gregory joined the members of the 35th Legislature in recognition of Girls Scout Day at the Legislature. During the Mock Session, Girl Scout Ms. Kushaada Carabello represented Senator Frett-Gregory. Ms. Caraballo was an enthusiastic Chair of the Committee on Budget, Appropriations and Finance for the day and asked many insightful questions. The excitement of the future leaders was refreshing, and the Senator enjoyed her interactions with the students. Girl Scout Day at the Legislature is one of the many events across the nation in recognition of Girl Scout Week, which celebrates the annual Anniversary of the Girl Scouts nationwide.

Tour - JFL North and Schneider Regional Medical Center

Senator Frett-Gregory participated in tours of the Juan F. Luis Hospital - North and the Schneider Regional Medical Center. The JFL North is a state-of-the-art modular facility slated to open in the very near future. The opening of the interim facility signals significant progress in the steady goal for quality, accessible healthcare in the St. Croix district. In the same vein, Senator Frett-Gregory remains focused on the development of the health facilities in the St. Thomas/ St. John District. The Senator toured the Schneider Regional Medical Center to receive a full update on its operations. The Senator also discussed with leadership at both facilities the areas in which the Legislature can facilitate improvement.

DFG In the Community

Crucian Christmas Festival

Festivals/Carnival in the Virgin Islands are Senator Frett-Gregory's personal favorite cultural events in the territory. During her final days as President of the 34th Legislature, Senator Frett-Gregory participated in the Crucian Christmas Festival. The display of the vibrancy of our culture, community gathering, and celebration of our identity is an unmatched joyous occasion. Especially after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Frett-Gregory is appreciative of having had the opportunity to celebrate Crucian Christmas Festival for 2023. The Senator was filled with pride in recognizing cultural icon and legislative employee Alwyn “Daddy Jones” Baptiste, for whom the festival village was named.

2023 Swearing-In Ceremony and Ecumenical Services

Senator Frett-Gregory remains thankful for the outpouring of support received as she continues to serve the people of the territory and is grateful for the well wishes during the Swearing-In Ceremony of the 35th Legislature. Serving as a Senator remains to be her focus of the position – to serve. Connecting with Virgin Islanders throughout the territory is vital to that service.

Pre-Valentine's Day Celebration at Yvonne E. Milliner Bowsky Elementary School

Youth outreach is very important to Senator Frett-Gregory. Senator Frett-Gregory continued her annual tradition of reading to students for Valentine’s Day by reading to the kindergarten classes at the Yvonne E. Milliner Bowsky Elementary School. After the reading, students received goodie bags and were able to engage in a discussion about showing love to friends and family. Each year, the Senator looks forward to this lively interaction with our children.

Valentine’s Day Luncheon at the Adrian Center in STJ

Senator Frett-Gregory continued Valentine’s Day celebrations on Love City, St. John at the Adrian Senior Center. Complete with a tasty luncheon, games, song and dance, seniors enjoyed a joyous afternoon with the Senator and her staff. This annual tradition was adopted by Senator Frett-Gregory in her inaugural term as a Senator and the seniors on St. John look forward to the yearly event.

51st Annual Agriculture and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands

Senator Frett-Gregory attended the 51st Annual Agriculture and Food Fair of the Virgin Islands (Agri fest 2023) on St. Croix. Agrifest is one of the territory’s largest events, allowing our local farmers to showcase their talent, work and harvest. Supporting our local agriculture industry remains a priority. As the sponsor of the Territorial Agricultural Plan, Senator Frett-Gregory is deeply vested in the success of our local farmers and food sovereignty for the territory.

Little League Opening Day Ceremonies

The 2023 Little League Opening Day Ceremonies brought excitement in our community. Both the enthusiasm of our children and the community support of youth development were uplifting. The Senator looks forward to a successful baseball season ahead.

Territorial Career and Technical Education Fair

Students enrolled in career and technical education courses through the Department of Education showcased their skills at the CTE Fair in Emancipation Garden. While there, the Senator was able to meet some of our territory’s future nurses, chefs, nail technicians, welders, seamsters, hairstylists and more. Supporting the success of the CTE program ensures the sustainability of our workforce and develops entrepreneurship opportunities for our students.

Tour - Frenchtown Heritage Museum and the V.I. Children’s Museum

Senator Frett-Gregory was invited to tour the Frenchtown Heritage Museum and the V.I. Children’s Museum. Both entities are nonprofits in our community doing excellent work. At the Frenchtown Heritage Museum, the Senator was able to explore cultural and historical artifacts of French descendants in the territory. Meanwhile, the VI Children’s Museum display demonstrated the vast and impressive programs available to foster STEAM education for our youth. Most importantly, these tours were opportunities for the Senator to learn more about each nonprofit’s challenges and explore avenues to support their efforts. Senator Frett-Gregory remains committed to supporting our nonprofits in their effort in filling gaps for necessary services in our community.

2023 Battle of the Agencies

Senator Frett-Gregory supported her coworkers and joined the excitement at the 2023 Battle of the Agencies. Employees of our local government participated in a day of friendly competition that boosts morale for all. Senator Frett-Gregory thanks the Division of Personnel and the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation for a job well done each year in support of community wellness.

Grand Opening and Fundraiser for the St. Clair Institute

Senator Frett-Gregory, due to her commitment to provide equitable access for behavioral health services in the territory, was invited to serve as a speaker for the opening of the St. Claire Institute on St. Thomas. Dr. Jessica B Whyte and her team are working to create a continuum of care for some of the most vulnerable in our community. Senator Frett-Gregory supports the efforts to provide a service to individuals suffering from mental and behavioral health issues in the territory.

Radio Appearances

Though social media is a popular trend for staying connected, Senator Frett-Gregory has not forgotten about those who prefer to communicate through traditional methods such as radio broadcasts. She is always available for radio appearances that give constituents opportunities for interaction, including legislative inquiries and transparency. First-quarter appearances include:

  • WTJX- “Analyze This” with Neville James

  • WSTA – "Pass It On" with Roosevelt David

  • WVWI – "Vantage Point" with Eugene Farrell

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:

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