* DC plan withdrawal among 13 measures passed
* Senators confirm CPA, Civil Service nominees
Senators passed Thursday night an initiative proposing to amend Article 12 of the NMI Constitution to allow any U.S. citizen with “at least some degree” of Chamorro or Carolinian blood to be considered a person of Northern Marianas descent and can therefore own land in the CNMI. But the passage came only after the Senate unanimously adopted Sen. Pete Reyes’s (Ind-Saipan) amendment excluding adopted children without any NMD blood from land ownership.
“This is for fairness’ sake,” Reyes said.
The Senate also passed a bill allowing members of the defined contribution plan to withdraw their account balance without having to quit their job.
Because of the Senate amendments, both the Article 12 initiative and the DC plan bill will have to go back to the House for its action.
The Article 12 initiative and the DC plan withdrawal bill were among the 13 bills and initiatives that the Senate passed on Thursday night.
Each one of the 13 bills and initiatives passed got an 8-0 vote.
If the House accepts the Senate amendment to House Legislative Initiative 18-1, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1, this Article 12 initiative will be placed on the ballot in the November 2014 elections. The initiative was authored by Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan).
Reyes said an adopted child without any NMD blood should not be eligible to own land, to be fair to those who have NMD blood but have not been able to own land in the CNMI.
“I think that is only fair. For far too long, it has been unfair to those with less than 25 percent NMD blood yet cannot own a land, while adopted children without any NMD blood are allowed to own land,” Reyes said.
Currently, only those with at least 25 percent NMD blood can own land in the CNMI under the NMI Constitution’s Article 12.
DC contribution withdrawal
Senators also passed House vice speaker Frank Dela Cruz’s (Ind-Saipan) House Bill 18-46, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1, allowing government employees who opted to move to the DC plan to withdraw their contributions without terminating employment.
Sen. Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) offered an amended to allow only those with at least two years DC plan contribution to withdraw their contributions. Her colleagues adopted the amendment.
Nobert Mendiola, a Department of Public Works employee, and Department of Corrections’ Candido Aldan, who patiently attended the Senate session until early Thursday night, were elated to see the DC plan bill’s passage.
“I hope the House will also act on it immediately,” Mendiola said, who has been with the DC plan for over five years.
Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) said the DC plan bill was not entertained during the last session because Gov. Eloy S. Inos, ASC and lawmakers were still discussing the proposal that will be acceptable to parties concerned.
8 bills headed to governor
Of the 13 measures passed on Thursday, eight are headed to Gov. Eloy S. Inos for action, while seven are either going back or headed to the House for the first time.
* House Bill 18-29, HD2, by Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), amending the CNMI Weapons Control Act by imposing stricter gun safety and control while at the same time allowing outdoor shooting ranges and skeet shooting developments.
* HB 18-116, by Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), requiring government agencies such as the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. to also secure from Department of Public Works a permit before any road cutting project.
* SB 18-7, SS1, HD1, by Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and Sen. Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan), which mandates CUC to charge a lower water and wastewater rate for the Public School System.
* HB 18-33, by Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), re-establishing the Commonwealth Board of Nurse Examiners as an autonomous public agency.
* HB 18-5, HD1, by Ogumoro, presenting to the voters in the next general election the question, “Shall there be a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution?”
* SB 18-12, HD1, by Reyes, automatically terminating an executive appointment if an appointment that requires the Senate or the Senate and House consent is not submitted to the Legislature’s presiding officers within a 30-day period. The person won’t be re-appointed to the same post.
* HB 18-19, HD1, by floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), establishing safety measure in instances where a vehicle overtakes a bicycle on a public road or highway.
* HB 18-11, by Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), authorizing veterans’ motor vehicle license plate for qualified veterans.
Five bills are either headed to the House for the first time or going back to it, including the Article 12 initiative and the DC plan bill. The other three include:
* SB 18-10, by Senate vice president Victor Hocog (R-Rota), authorizing the Division of Environmental Quality to set well water rates for commercial users.
* SB 18-26, also by Hocog, authorizing the governor to negotiate a settlement and resolution of judgments against the CNMI government.
* SB 18-25, SD1, by Senate floor leader Ray Yumul (Ind-Saipan), requiring certificate of initial inspection for motor vehicles.
Senators also confirmed the governor’s nominations of Felicitas “Tee” Abraham to serve on the Civil Service Commission and reappointment of Benigno M. Sablan to the Commonwealth Ports Authority board of directors.
The Senate confirmed the two nominees on the same day the Committee on Executive Appointments and Government Investigations held a public hearing on their nominations.
By a vote of 8-0, the Senate adopted the EAGI Committee reports on each of the nominees.