Feb. 26, 2004
Heinz cautions increase in LB positions
House Minority Leader Heinz S. Hofschneider yesterday offered words of caution to members of the House and Senate leaderships who want to increase the number of full-time employees in the Legislative Bureau from 35 to 45. Senate Joint Resolution 14-4, which the Senate adopted this week, seeks to add more bureau staff, including one more legal counsel for the upper chamber. Senators want to retain one attorney for each of the three senatorial districts. The Senate is at present allowed only two legal counsels. “I caution everyone that we’ve made some efforts toward improving the quality, not quantity, of personnel and productivity within the bureau,” said Hofschneider yesterday.
Reuse potentials of Puerto Rico dump evaluated
Will Puerto Rico dump be eventually converted to a park, a modern sports complex, a passenger or commercial port, or a facility equipped with a floating hotel? Environmental consultants and members of the CNMI Solid Waste Task Force discussed these reuse possibilities for the former dumpsite in a meeting yesterday at the Governor’s conference room. Division of Environmental Quality environmental engineer Brian Bearden, a task force member, said Douglas Roff and Jon Bruton of environmental consulting firm Earth Tech met with the task force to discuss reuse options for Puerto Rico. Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente joined the discussions as task force chair.
Feb. 26, 2005
2005 CIP money goes to water, sewer projects
The nearly $13-million Capital Improvement Project funds this fiscal year will be used primarily for water and sewer projects in the Commonwealth. In a notice of grant award, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved the use of some $7 million for water-related projects on Saipan. The remaining funds would be used for construction of sewer facilities on Rota and Tinian, totaling $1.6 million each, as well as the closure of the Puerto Rico dumpsite, which receives $2.7 million. Meantime, water projects that have been approved for funding this year include critical water distribution system ($298,000), improvements at springs ($345,000), additional pipeline ($201,500), water conservation and leak detection (960,000), surface water catchments ($2.9 million), optimization of existing wells ($1.2 million), a and test drilling program ($575,000).
Changes eyed in local voting process
More amendments are underway for the CNMI’s electoral procedure to reflect changes in the voters’ behavior and registration format. The Commonwealth Election Commission is currently soliciting public comments on proposals to stop the use of ink stain as proof of voting and to change the ballot design. In previous elections, polling place supervisors crossed off the name of each voter on the list after the voter has received a ballot. In addition, each voter was required to have their right index finger marked with indelible ink to show that he or she has already voted.
Feb. 26, 2006
Fitial OKs call center tax relief
For the second time, a call center proponent on Saipan got the nod of the Executive Branch on its tax break request. Gov. Benigno R. Fitial approved on Feb. 23, 2006, the qualifying certificate application of We Manage Calls Inc., giving the company its requested tax breaks of over 10 years. The same application was first approved by former governor Juan N. Babauta on Nov. 28, 2005, as recommended by the Commonwealth of Development Authority. The initial certificate gave the company $2 million worth of tax rebates over 10 years. This decision, however, was not acceptable to the applicant, prompting it to file a petition with CDA for a bigger tax break.
PaganWatch pushes passage of mining bill
PaganWatch has urged lawmakers to immediately pass a bill that would create a Pagan mining task force and require all investors to undergo a bid before they could extract pozzolan from the northern island. House 15-56 is pending in the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, which is chaired by bill sponsor and PaganWatch member Rep. Cinta Kaipat. According to PaganWatch member Peter J. Perez, the bill would allow the CNMI people the opportunity to participate in deciding how to manage the reported 200 million metric tons of pozzolan available in Pagan.