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Senate lawmakers lament ‘ridiculously poor service’ of Liberty Mobile in the territory

Liberty Mobile responds to nationwide AT&T outage affecting the U.S. Virgin Islands

CHRISTIANSTED — Lawmakers convened during a session of the 35th Legislature to approve nominations, zoning amendments and lease agreements before passing a range of resolutions and bills, including several special order measures.

Among those was a resolution sponsored by Senator Donna Frett-Gregory requiring the Public Services Commission to file an official complaint on behalf of the territory’s people against telecommunications company Liberty Latin America and its subsidiaries — Liberty Mobile USVI and Liberty Mobile Puerto Rico — with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Lawmakers have brought representatives from the company in to testify several times to castigate the company for irregular connectivity and opaque customer service practices. Liberty representatives have previously attributed many of the problems to the migration of former AT&T customers to its network. Frett-Gregory said on the floor Monday that the territory is “stuck between a proverbial rock and a hard place” when it comes to the service provider.

“We rely on the wireless service for connectivity, and Liberty Latin America — through its subsidiaries — have what is fast becoming dangerous — a dangerous, unregulated industry in the territory,” she said.

Lawmakers spoke in support of the measure, with Sen. Diane Capehart hinting that Liberty was not the only service provider that might prompt legislative action in the coming days. Senate Majority Leader Kenneth Gittens took that warning further, calling on Viya to “pull up your socks as well.”

“Because the services that we’re receiving now are just totally unacceptable,” he said.

Senator Alma Francis Heyliger noted that testifiers from Liberty had previously told lawmakers that the issues would clear up once the migration process concluded at the end of March and indicated a willingness to wait until then to see if the issues resolved., but vowed “all hell gonna break loose” if the problems remained on April 1. She later voted in favor of the measure.

A second special order bill, brought by Sen. Diane Capehart, authorized $114,952.11 of unused proceeds from the 2016 emergency first responders line of credit to be used to help the Virgin Islands Police Department pay for costs associated with hosting the National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies’ International Symposium this June. That measure passed.

A special order brought by Francis Heyliger to select an Attorney General in the wake of Attorney General Ariel Smith’s resignation was approved and assigned to its committee of jurisdiction, the Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Approved measures on Monday’s agenda included two criminal justice initiatives. If enacted, Bill No. 35-0178 will allow for the automatic expungement of arrest records upon a finding that the arrest in question lacked probably cause and further designating expunged criminal records as confidential.

Bill No. 35-0115 would replace existing law with “The Fair Chance for Employment Act” — otherwise known as “ban the box.” That measure would allow formerly incarcerated persons a fighting chance at reentering the workforce by placing the disclosure of criminal history later in the hiring process, rather than front-and-center on most job applications.

Measures establishing a deadline by which the Government Employees Retirement System must restart its personal loan program, updating the territory’s building codes and standards and the establishment of strict penalties for those convicted of non-consensually sharing explicit images — a practice commonly referred to as “revenge porn.”

Perhaps the most controversial measure on the agenda was one establishing a minimum default payment assigned to parents who fail to provide documentation needed to determine child support payments or who fail to appear at determination hearings.

Sens. Javan James Sr. and Franklin Johnson opposed the measure, with the latter asserting that “money don’t change nobody and money ain’t gonna make nobody do what they ain’t gonna do.”

Instead, Johnson called for passports and driver’s licenses to be rescinded when parents fail to participate in the process.

In response, Sen. Samuel Carrión noted that “a passport does not feed a child, and driver’s license removal does not feed a child.” Bill sponsor Senate Secretary Carla Joseph cited the high number of children in the territory living in poverty and called out noncustodial parents for not paying their fair share.

“This bill is going to penalize those individuals — I want to stress it — penalize those individuals who don’t come to the hearing and who don’t provide the financial information,” she said.

A measure creating a Territorial Chronic Kidney Disease, Stroke and Diabetes Registry had broad support from lawmakers and served as the bill reserved for nongermane amendments.

All seven nominees on Monday’s agenda received unanimous approval from lawmakers in attendance, including Harold W. L. Willocks, nominated to serve as a justice of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court, and Averil George, Human Services commissioner nominee.

The Public Services Commission (PSC) was directed by Senate resolution to file a complaint with the FCC about Liberty Mobile’s extremely poor service in the territory.

Approved measures:


Harold W. L. Willocks, Esq. – Virgin Islands Supreme Court Justice

Averil George – Human Services Commissioner

Antonio O. Stevens – V.I. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Director

Maurice K. Muia – Water and Power Authority Governing Board

May A. Cornwall – Coastal Zone Management, St. Croix District

Nathaniel Olive – V.I. Conservation District, St. Croix, Non-Agricultural Interest

Carlos Robles – V.I. Conservation District, St. Thomas, Land Occupier


Bill No. 35-0212 – An Act ratifying Minor Coastal Zone Permit No. CZT-18-21(W) issued to Beach Life, LLC for the continued use and occupancy of submerged lands and the installation of a five-footwide by thirty-foot long floating dock anchored by a four-foot wide by twenty-four-foot-long wooden walkway on the beach and seaward of Tract C-1 Estate Water Island, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 

Bill No. 35-0213 – An Act granting a conditional zoning use variance for Plots Nos. 219 and 220 Estate Morning Star, Queen Quarter, St. Croix, from the R-1 (Residential-Low Density) zoning designation to allow for a restaurant and bar, retail, a barber or beauty salon, short-term rental/guesthouse, and event space rental/rental of commercial space 

Bill No. 35-0233 – An Act granting a use variance to Parcels No. 41 Remainder Estate Contant and 41C Estate Contant, 7A Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to allow for commercial parking 

Bill No. 35-0234 – An Act granting a zoning variance from the I-2 (Light Industry) zoning designation to Revised Parcel No. 17-3 Remainder Estate Nisky, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, to allow for a business hotel 

Bill No. 35-0235 – An Act amending Official Zoning Map No. STZ-7 to rezone Reconfigured Remainder Consolidated Parcel No. 1-13 Estate Donoe, No. 2A New Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, from R-4 (Residential-Medium Density) to B-3 (Business-Scattered) 


Bill No. 35-0077 – Between the Government and St. Thomas Rescue, Inc., Parcel No. 146 Revised Submarine Base No. 6, Southwest Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, consisting of a one-story building, on approximately 0.1899 U.S. acres of improved land more-or-less, zoned P, for the purpose of operating a long-term headquarters for all rescue related activities of the Lessee, and for other related purposes 

Bill No. 35-0211 – Between the Government and James O. Gaston for Plot No. 9-G VICORP Lands, Prince Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, consisting of approximately 653,400 U.S. sq. ft. or 15 U.S. acres of unimproved land, more or less, as shown on Drawing No. A9-5-C008 to be used for crop production and rearing small livestock

Bill No. 35-0225 – Between and Virgin Islands Center for Architecture, Crafts, and Build Heritage, St. Croix, Inc. d/b/a Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Build Heritage and Crafts, for Plot No. 8 Church Street and Plots No. 21, 22, and 23 Hospital Street, Christiansted Town, Company Quarter, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, consisting of two, two-story masonry buildings to be used for the common good, welfare, and education of the people of the Virgin Islands on heritage and cultural legacy, and for other related purposes  

Bill No. 35-0245 – Between the Government and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, for Plot No. B Lagoon Street Complex, Frederiksted Town, West End Quarter, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, consisting of two twostory buildings consisting collectively of 32,604 U.S. sq. ft. or 0.6366 U.S. acre of improved land more-or-less, for the operation of a Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief Program, and for other related purposes 

Bill No. 35-0246 – Between the Government and Pro Mar Services Inc. for Parcels. No. 149-2, 159A and 159-1 Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, and Parcel No. 159 Remainder, Southside Quarter, St. Thomas 


Bill No. 35-0116 – A Resolution honoring and commending Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Leayle Gerard Galiber for his leadership in the Virgin Islands National Guard and his dedication to his country and to the people of the Virgin Islands  

Bill No. 35-0208 – A Resolution honoring and commending Mrs. Bernice Alma Turnbull for her lifetime service and dedication to the people of the Virgin Islands  

Bill No. 35-0247- A Resolution requiring the Public Services Commission to file a complaint on behalf of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands against Liberty Latin America and its subsidiaries, Liberty Mobile USVI and Liberty Mobile Puerto Rico, with the Federal Communications Commission


Bill No. 35-0107 – An Act posthumously honoring and commending Dr. Fenella Cooper for her contributions to the fields of education, sports and culture, and naming the UVI tennis courts in her honor 

Bill No. 35-0115 – An Act repealing title 24 Virgin Islands Code chapter 17, subchapter II, “Limited Use of Criminal Records in Hiring Practices,” and enacting in its place “The Fair Chance for Employment Act” relative to criminal record checks in the employment application process; and amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 25, subchapter I, section 452 requiring the Director of Personnel to develop and implement fair chance hiring policies; and for other related purposes 

Bill No. 35-0133 – An Act amending title 17 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 15, by adding section 190gg establishing a scholarship program to support individuals interested in pursuing a career in the maritime industry in the Virgin Islands 

Bill No. 35-0172 – An Act amending title 29, chapter 5, Virgin Islands Code, relating to building codes to provide for adoption of nationally recognized consensus-based codes and standards and amendments to such codes that are in the best interests of the territory, and to provide for clarifications to the Virgin Islands building code 

Bill No. 35-0178 – An Act amending title 5 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 314, to add a section 3732a to allow for the automatic expungement of arrest records upon a finding that the arrest lacked probable cause and amending title 3 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 33, section 881(g), item 9 relating to public records to designate expunged criminal records as confidential records 

Bill No. 35-0182 – An Act amending title 14 of the Virgin Islands Code, chapter 51, by designating the existing provisions as subchapter I and adding a subchapter II relating to the nonconsensual dissemination of sexually explicit images 

Bill No. 35-0184 – An Act to honor and commend Viggio E. Sewer posthumously for his ultimate contribution to the Virgin Islands and renaming East End Road on Route 10 on the island of St. John, in his honor  

Bill No. 35-0196 – An Act to amend title 3 Virgin Islands Code, sections 717(c) and 766(c) to establish a deadline for the GERS to resume the personal loan program, remove the $10,000,000 annual aggregate amount and the 8% interest rate cap, limit the system’s liability to $75,000, and set a parameter in section 717 that all loans must be structured such that the payoff date occurs before the retiree reaches age 70  

Bill No. 35-0207 – An Act amending title 19 Virgin Islands Code, part I, adding chapter 6a to create the Territorial Chronic Kidney Disease, Stroke and Diabetes Registry  

Bill No. 35-0218 – An Act amending title 24 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 12 relating to unemployment benefits by: reducing the number of weeks that unemployment benefits can be received; increasing the statute of limitations for the collection of overpayments of unemployment benefits from claimants and for delinquent employer contribution; allowing for the implementation of the payroll variation methodology launch in the calendar year beginning January 2024; implementing a 10-year record retention period for employers; and requiring employers to register with the Virgin Islands State Information Data Exchange System   

Bill No. 35-0223 – An Act renaming Gamle Gade the “William A. Industrious Street” 

Bill No. 35-0226 – An Act amending title 16 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 13, subchapter I, section 345, subsection (c) by establishing a minimum default amount for child support

Bill No. 35-0249 – An Act authorizing the reprogramming of the remaining unused proceeds from the 2016 Emergency First Responder line of credit totaling $114,952.11, issued pursuant to Act 7866, as amended by Act 7876, to assist the Virgin Islands Police Department in offsetting costs associated with hosting the June 2024 National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies National Symposium 

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