House approves bill regulating drag racing

The House of Representatives passed yesterday a bill that seeks to regulate the currently illegal sport of drag racing in the CNMI.

House Bill 19-103, authored by Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), passed on 19 affirmative votes with one absence.

It seeks to regulate drag racing on public or private property that individuals, business, or investors would like to invest in or lease for the sport.

In an amendment that passed the House yesterday, Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) inserted caveats that the Office of the Attorney General recommended that outlaws drag racing on any public highways, streets, and other thoroughfares in the Commonwealth.

The bill also states that the promulgation of fees, rules, regulations, and penalties for drag racing activities in the CNMI will fall under the Department of Public Safety in collaboration with the OAG, Department of Public Lands, Department of Public Works, Department of Finance, and the Zoning Office.

In its findings, the House said drag racing is fast becoming a popular sport in the CNMI despite the absence of a facility or designated area to host it.

“Over the years, many individuals both young and old put themselves and others at risk [by] participating in illegal drag racing in various areas in the CNMI. The Legislature finds that it is imperative that action be taken in regards to drag racing to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others while participating in illegal drag racing activities,” the bill reads.

In an opinion offered by Attorney General Edward Manibusan last Nov. 19, he said the bill virtually gives unbridled discretion to DPS to establish drag racing.

Without providing defined policy objectives, reasonable restrictions and limits, Manibusan said, there is the real possibly that the bill would encourage the haphazard development of drag racing in the CNMI, which may prove harmful to public safety and welfare.

He recommended that the bill have an outright prohibition against drag racing on any public highway or streets.

“There have been horrific traffic accidents involving drag racing on the Commonwealth’s public highways that have claimed precious human lives,” Manibusan added in his November letter.

H.B. 19-103 now goes to the Senate for action.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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