The Senate passed yesterday afternoon five bills, including a House bill strengthening laws against sex crimes and domestic violence that is now headed to the governor's desk. Rep. Edmund Villagomez's (Cov-Saipan) House Bill 18-3 is the first bill passed by both the 18th House and Senate. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial vetoed the original version of this bill last year.
The four other bills passed were from the Senate, and they are headed for the House.
Each of the five bills was passed by a vote of 8-0, with one absence, Sen. Juan Ayuyu (Ind-Rota).
Villagomez's HB 18-3 strengthens provisions regarding sex crimes and domestic violence by establishing minimum mandatory sentence for sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor, increasing the time-served component necessary for parole eligibility, and amending existing definitions to clarify provisions relating to sex crimes and domestic violence.
“I am happy and also grateful that the Senate passed HB 18-3. It is good news for the victims, because this bill is mainly for them and also to deter these types of crimes from happening,” Villagomez told Saipan Tribune.
He amended the version that the governor vetoed in the 17th Legislature.
“HB 18-3 included the concerns raised by the governor and Viola Alepuyo. On top of that, we also expanded on the findings and purposes to make sure that there is no misinterpretation of the law. We also made more clarifications. And although the version in the 17th Legislature was good, this version is better,” Villagomez added.
The first one to pass during yesterday afternoon's session was Sen. Frank Cruz's (R-Tinian) Senate Bill 18-1, renaming the Department of Public Safety Building on Tinian the Gilbert Manglona Taisacan Building.
Senators also passed Cruz's S.B. 18-2, to authorize active duty U.S. military personnel stationed outside the CNMI in any state or territory to maintain or renew their vehicle registration in the CNMI, among other things.
Also passed was Sen. Ray Yumul's (IR-Saipan) amended S.B. 18-3, increasing the number of cigarette packages or carton-from one carton to three cartons-allowed to be brought into the CNMI by tourists.
Cruz's S.B. 18-6 also passed. It amends an existing law to provide for exemption from the 30 percent gaming machine jackpot tax if an individual meets certain qualifications, including if the otherwise taxable prize is won by an individual who is a “nonresident alien individual” and if it is won in a casino.