Gov. Benigno R. Fitial extended anew his executive orders declaring a state of emergency for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. which allows him to have direct control over these agencies and suspend procurement laws or rules to address those emergencies for at least another 30 days.
Fitial signed the two separate EOs on Wednesday, a few days after the previous EOs lapsed.
In the CHC executive order, Fitial suspended all statutory or regulatory provisions and allowed for the reprogramming of funds to address the emergency.
The governor extended the CHC emergency declaration two days after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed CHC under a severe sanction of “immediate jeopardy,” which could result in loss of funding support from the federal agency.
CHC has 23 days to get into compliance before funding is cut. Immediate jeopardy indicates that the provider's noncompliance with one or more requirements of participation in the Medicare and Medicaid program has or is “likely to cause serious injury, harm, impairment, or death.”
In the CUC executive order, Fitial again assumed all of the executive power of CUC, including those vested in the board of directors and the executive director.
He also continued the suspension of Public Law 17-34 concerning the Public Utilities Commission's regulation of CUC and its actions and any oversight of renewable energy contracts.
The emergency declaration also continues to allow CUC to hire foreign nationals for services needed.
Some House members, including Rep. Ray Yumul (R-Saipan) and House minority leader Joe Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan), have been saying that the House should not always automatically accept the governor's emergency declarations, to no avail.
Fitial's executive orders have not been challenged by the House, only by the Senate. Amendments need the action of both the House and Senate.