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Senator Genevieve Whitaker Elated About the Passage of Legislation

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

Senator Genevieve Whitaker is Elated About the Passage of Legislation, Key Among the Legislation Honoring Important Virgin Islands Women Leaders of Our Past and Present; Redevelopment of our Construction Industry; Bilingual language support and Legislation to Support Seniors

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (U.S.) — Senator Genevieve Whitaker joined her colleagues in passing critical legislation at the most recent Legislative Session, held last Thursday, March 24, 2022. Senator Whitaker congratulated all nominees on their respective boards. She highlighted her full support, especially the nominees for the Real Estate Commission. Senator Whitaker encouraged each nominee to fulfill their statutory and policy mandates to benefit the people of the Virgin Islands. Among legislation passed were several measures prime and co-sponsored by Senator Whitaker. Senator Whitaker was elated to support the resolutions that honored distinguished Virgin Islands women for their lifetime work and service to our community. As a prime sponsor of Bill No. 34-0157, Senator honoring and commending Gloria H. Canegata Waterman for her outstanding service to the Virgin Islands Community as an educator and public servant.

Ms. Canegata Waterman was a pillar in our community. Senator Whitaker believes in honoring the elders in our community, and this bill accomplished just that. Ms. Canegata Waterman mentored her in youth and is a role model for our future educators. Senator Whitaker hopes the Virgin Islands will be blessed to have more educators with the remarkable skills and talents that Ms. Canegata Waterman possesses. Bill No. 34-0148 honors Dr. Laverne E. Ragster for becoming the first woman to serve as President of the University of the Virgin Islands. Bill No. 34-0146 acknowledged and commemorated the memory of Mary Thomas, Axeline Salomon, Mathilde McBean, Susanna Abramson, and other laborers before, during, and after the Labor Uprising of 1878 aka "Fireburn" and their courageous pursuit of human rights, freedom from serfdom variant and improvement of labor conditions in the former Danish West Indies. These measures are particularly significant, having passed during this month which is Virgin Islands History and Women’s History Month. As a prime sponsor of the "Crown Act" Bill No. 34-0147, Senator Whitaker was especially elated for its passage. As she has previously shared, "The Crown Act will end a form of discrimination that has been rampant throughout schools, workplaces worldwide," stated Senator Whitaker. "In the Virgin Islands, across the Caribbean, and the U.S. mainland, we continue to see on the news and social media cases where students are being denied access to an education due to having an Afrocentric hairstyle. Our students should not be denied an education because of their hairstyle. As a person with locs, I know how it feels to be stereotyped based on my hair."

On the national level, the CROWN Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives members, the Crown Act, H.R.2116 - Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2022, on Friday, March 18, Press Release Senator Whitaker Elated About Legislation Passed 3.24.22 Session Page 2 of 2 Follow Senator Whitaker via Social Media: @VISenatorWhitaker @SenatorWhitaker @SenatorGenevieveWhitaker 2022. Our Delegate-to-Congress, Stacey Plaskett, a co-sponsor of the legislation but could not vote on the measure as House members of the U.S. territories continue to be denied the right to vote when measures are sent to the full body (Session) for approval. The House bill is now on its way to the U.S. Senate. Another measure Senator Whitaker voted in favor of is Bill No. 34-0174, which commends the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School (IEKHS) on St. Thomas for its 50th Anniversary and acknowledges the Caribbean excellence demonstrated by the administrators, teachers, and students alike. Senator Whitaker was honored having been invited to IEKHS Women's History Month Presentation on Friday, March 18, 2022. As the Education Chair, Senator Whitaker will always remain available, with an open ear, to address any issues at IEKHS. Senator Whitaker prime sponsored Bill No. 34-0154 as the measure is important legislation that will improve our education curriculum and forward the progress of our youth. A bilingual curriculum will also give support to English learners.

In addition, Senator Whitaker expressed her satisfaction with her colleagues' support and approval for Bill 34-0142, which she prime sponsored, providing an automatic license plate reader system as a crime-fighting tool in the Virgin Islands. "This legislation is just one step towards reducing the crime throughout the territory," stated Senator Whitaker. Initially, Senator Whitaker did not vote for Bill No. 34-0141 as it read to be duplicative. In addition, she was concerned about the Virgin Islands Police Department, the current and most appropriate lead entity, being involved with the notification process. The Department currently has a Victim-Witness Advocate program as best practices around the nation are that Victim-Witness programs are housed as divisions within police departments. However, the amendment offered by Senator Kenneth L. Gittens cured the Senator's concerns resulting in her voting yes as Senator Whitaker is a staunch and experienced advocate for victim rights. It was a busy day for Senator Whitaker and her colleagues, as Senator Whitaker also prime sponsored Bill No. 34-0171. This act relates to the service retirement annuity, allowing retirees to reenter government service and retain their annuity while contributing to the Retirement System. Additionally, Senator Whitaker championed her co-sponsorship of Bill No. 34-0155. It is related to notaries, notarial officers, and notarial acts by adding subchapter III enacting the Virgin Islands Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2021) to support her continued effort to e-governance of the territory.

Continuing to work for our community, Senator Whitaker helped pass a handful of zoning requests, including Bill No. 34-0219, which she prime sponsored. This bill relates to Plot No. 126-E Estate Whim, West End Quarter, St. Croix, allowing for adult daycare and assisted living facility R-2 (Residential-Low Density-One and Two-Family). Additionally, as a prime sponsor of Bill No. 34-0087, Senator Whitaker supported this critical piece of legislation to address the walkability and accessibility of our roadways for her entire term of office has advocated for the Department of Public works to reconstruct our road systems infrastructure strategically and effectively. Senator Whitaker thanks Troy De Chabert-Schuster, State Director of AARP-VI for his and his team’s diligence in their advocacy and expert assistance in the crafting and passage of the legislation. We must continue to give support to our Seniors and persons with disabilities. Senator Whitaker also co-sponsored Bill No. 34-0198, which she continues to support the local redevelopment of our construction industry. Senator Whitaker seeks to uplift the small business leaders of our community by protecting their best interests and pushing to have them included in the EDC benefits.

"To handle yourself, use your head; To handle others, use your heart." Eleanor Roosevelt.

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