LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Trying To Kill One Bird With Two Stones: By Taxi Driver KELVIN DENNIE
By KELVIN DENNIE/St. Croix Taxi Driver
As a taxi driver in the territory for over 30 years, I cannot remain quiet after this second attempt to deny me the right of accepting the form of payment I choose. The mandatory language spoils the whole intent of the bill.
Bill No. 33-0044 seeks to give the Taxicab Commission power to “establish and operate an electric monetary payment system and establish conditions and requirements for its use.” The bill needed certain necessary amendments so that the law would not apply solely to taxi drivers, but will also include all cash-only businesses in the territory. The sponsor was successful in getting Senators to hold the bill in the Committee of the Whole, allegedly for further consideration, until this more comprehensive bill could be considered.
There was a hearing on the new bill on July 29. Seven days earlier, Senator Allison Lisa DeGazon held a meeting with taxi drivers. The sponsor of the bill told taxi drivers and others present at the meeting held at the St. Croix Airport that taxi drivers are not included in Amendment No. 33-098. Contrary to the sponsor’s statement of non-inclusion, Amendment No. 33-098 seeks to put into effect that which was required of the Taxicab Commission to “establish … an electric monetary payment system and establish conditions and requirements for its use,” i.e. taxi drivers “shall offer at least two payment options to a customer and one of the payment options must be a credit or debit card.”
Absent language that specifically exempts taxi drivers from the definition of “business” on page two of Amendment No. 33-098, taxi drivers must comply with the requirements of the bill and also could find themselves subject to paying fines of “not less than $500 nor more than $3,000 for a first offense, and not less than $5,000 nor more than $10,000 for subsequent offenses.”
The bill further seeks to ban all cash-only businesses in the Virgin Islands. How? One may ask. A cash-only business does not give a customer two options of payment — it is a cash-only business!
As a taxi driver (and that’s the only way I earn money) I will not hesitate to publicly state my opposition to Amendment No. 33-098 in its present form. Where laws of the United States applicable to the Virgin Islands give a business the right to choose the form of payment it will accept for goods and services provided. Senators, by introducing a new local law, cannot take away that right.
—Kelvin Dennie, St. Croix Taxi Driver