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  • Writer's pictureSen. Donna Frett-Gregory

Working For Results: 2024 Volume 1

A Message from the Senator

It has been and continues to be a pleasure working on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands. During the last few months, your constant support and encouragement have not only inspired me to remain vigilant in my service to you but have moved me to take a closer look at how I can serve you more effectively throughout 2024 and beyond. I am very proud of two of my bills that passed in Legislative Session. Bill No. 35-0182, referred to as Revenge Porn, is now Act No. 8820, which will expand legal protections for victims and make it a crime to share someone's private sexual images without their consent. This piece of legislation is a long time coming and will begin to protect victims from the emotional and professional devastation of revenge porn. It is high time we made this a priority in the territory to ensure that this prevalent issue in our community is addressed. Now, the Virgin Islands can join the majority of the country in taking a stand against this harmful act.

The other measure, Bill No. 35-0115, referred to as the Fair Chance for Employment Act, removes automatic job disqualification for those with a criminal history. This measure is a step towards creating a more just society. Everyone deserves a second chance to rebuild their lives, and this legislation promotes a fairer and more equitable hiring process. This is a crucial step to ensuring that we take rehabilitation, recidivism, and workforce development seriously. The measure was unfortunately vetoed by the Governor, however, with the overwhelming support of my colleagues, I intend to move for an override during the next legislative session. Beyond legislation, I have also had the privilege of organizing the 3rd Annual International Women’s Day and Women's History Month Celebration. This event allows the community to celebrate women from across the territory who are working tirelessly to improve our home. I also hosted our annual Valentine’s Day with Our Elders Luncheon. It is always heartwarming and refreshing to be amongst our seniors. During the annual luncheon, I look forward to hearing our history shared orally and spending time with many who gave so much of themselves to our community.

Finally, after careful reflection and discussion with family, friends, supporters, and constituents, I made the decision not to seek another term in the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. After 37 years of public service – the last six serving as your representative, I am ready to write a new chapter by continuing to be of service to the Virgin Islands people in a different forum and in a different role. Although I am not seeking re-election, my work is far from over, as there is much work to be completed before my term ends in January 2025. You know me, and you know that I will use every day I have left in the Senate to fight for you and for causes that I hold dear. Rest assured, my service and commitment to the Virgin Islands and our people will not end with my senate term. I will continue to be the voice for accountability and remain committed to the principle that government works best when we put our collective heads together and leave our egos at the door. As I continue to serve the Virgin Islands, I do so with a deep sense of humility and a heart full of love for this extraordinary community. Together, we can create a brighter future for the Virgin Islands.  

Donna A. Frett-Gregory 

Legislative Highlights

Enacted Legislation:

(Senator Donna A Frett- Gregory in the Fritz E. Lawaetz Conference Room introducing Bill No. 35-0182 on the Committee on Homeland, Security, Justice, and Public Safety)

Bill No. 35-0182, Act No. 8820: Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn bans the dissemination of sexually explicit images or videos of a person without their consent. This vile act causes emotional and mental distress that impacts the personal and professional relationships of the individuals and families who are victims of the act. This impact often stays with the victim for years to come. This legislation makes non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images a crime, joining 48 states and 2 other territories of the United States.

(Senator Donna A. Frett-Gregory introduces Bill No. 35-0172 in the Committee on Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure and Planning)

Bill No. 35-0172, Act No. 8818: Building Code

The Virgin Islands Building Code has not been updated since 2003. This measure updates the Virgin Islands Building Code by adopting specific provisions of the 2018 editions of the International Building Code (“IBC”), the International Residential Code (“IRC”), and the International Energy Conservation Code (“IECC”). These building codes reflect modern, nationally recognized, consensus-based construction standards and take into account the lessons learned from the 2017 hurricanes.

Pending Legislation:

(Senator Donna Frett-Gregory and Senator Angel Bolques Jr. discussing Bill No. 35-0115; The Fair Chance for Employment Act)

Bill No. 35-0115: The Fair Chance for Employment Act 

This measure was passed unanimously during the Legislative Session and was vetoed by the Governor. It is my intention with the continued support of my colleagues to move for an override and enact this necessary legislation. The Fair Chance Act not only gives individuals a second chance in life but also provides the opportunity to enhance our workforce, thereby positively impacting our economy. The Fair Chance Act removes automatic disqualification from a job for applicants with a criminal history. In this way, the legislation eliminates barriers to employment and makes the hiring process more equitable. With this legislation, the United States Virgin Islands will join 35 states in the nation and the District of Columbia in creating policies for fair chance to employment.

Legislation on the Horizon:

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – This legislation which is fully supported by the AARP and is enacted in 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, seeks to create a prescription drug monitoring program in the territory. This program supports the collection of data on dispensed medication. This will prevent the overprescribing of potentially addictive drugs, especially to our senior population, and decrease the chances of multiple providers prescribing the same medication thereby protecting patients at risk. With our aging community, this legislation provides a layer of protection to the most vulnerable members of our community.

Seizure of Undeclared Firearm Components – The Virgin Islands continues to feel the negative impact of gun violence in our community. This amendment will make it mandatory that individuals traveling with firearm components declare the components prior to traveling to the territory. This legislation would amend Act No. 8547 related to firearm components arriving in the territory via airports. The language would be changed to allow Homeland Security to seize firearm components upon entry if compliance with the law is not followed. Without this change, these components will continue to legally enter the territory thereby, allowing for weapons to be assembled and potentially end up on the street to be used in violent criminal activity throughout the territory.

Abandoned, Inoperable, and Unclaimed Vehicles – Abandoned, Inoperable, and Unclaimed vehicles are not only an eyesore and although there are laws in place, those laws also need to be updated to reflect what is occurring. Abandoned, Inoperable, and Unclaimed vehicles attract vandals, may be used for drug drops or prostitution, and accumulate refuse, thereby becoming a nuisance in our community and impacting the quality of life for our residents. This measure will update and put into place the mechanisms needed to address abandoned vehicles throughout the territory.

Business Improvement District – Economic growth and development are important to the financial well-being of the territory. This legislation will create an innovation district that provides a concentrated area of physical space that is technologically adept, and accessible, and offers retail and office space, as well as mixed-use housing spaces. Entrepreneurs, start-ups, academia, and medical institutions all can occupy space in the district, helping to diversify our economic base.

Chairing the Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance

The Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance has been hard at work vetting bills and leases that support economic development. The Committee will embark on the midyear review of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget. During the summer, the committee will hear from the executive and the judicial branches as they provide testimony on the recommended budget requests. As Chair of the Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, I am committed to ensuring that the FY 2025 budget of the territory is not only balanced but built on realistic and sustaining revenue streams.

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory at Work

Global Summit of Women - In May 2024, Senator Frett-Gregory attended the 2024 Global Summit of Women where she had the opportunity to speak to a room filled with business and professional women from across the globe. Presenting on how the U.S. Virgin Islands connect with countries across the globe, and the challenges faced by women leaders in the territory which are similar to those of women across the globe. The summit is an initiative of The Globe Women Research and Education Institute, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, USA, that promotes the acceleration of women’s economic opportunities globally and exchanges of best practices advancing the economic progress of women and girls.

(Top: Senator Frett-Gregory offering remarks at the Global Summit of Women Plenary Session; Bottom: Senator Frett-Gregory and Asst. Commissioner Alani Henneman ringing the bell @ the Global Summit of Women)

DFG in the Community

2024 International Women’s Day: 

For the past three years, The DFG Community Impact Foundation and the Office of Senator Frett-Gregory have hosted the International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month Celebration. This event which continues to grow annually, recognizes women from across the territory who are making a difference in our community. This networking event allows women a safe space to share ideas, promote their businesses, and have open discussions with other women. This year we honored 25 remarkable women and look forward to next year’s celebration!

(Left: Senator Frett-Gregory @ Elmo Plaskett Little League – STX; Right: Senator Frett-Gregory and Senator Marise James @ Elmo Plaskett Little League -STX

(Senator Frett-Gregory @ Little League St. Thomas)

(Senator Frett-Gregory @ Annual Valentine’s Luncheon) 

(Senator Frett-Gregory at the St. Croix Agriculture and Food Fair)

(Senator Frett-Gregory with Senators Potter, Blyden, and DeGraff at the St. Thomas Carnival Races)

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