The House of Representatives adopted at 3:16pm Friday a new resolution striking out a “Be it further resolved” clause that is not acceptable to plaintiff Betty Johnson’s lawyers. The resolution is on its way to the Senate.
But at 3:30pm, there is still no telling whether the Senate – during its emergency session -- would also adopt the new resolution that would pave the way for the disbursement of over $40 million in remaining defined benefit plan employee contributions.
The House adopted Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero’s (Ind-Saipan) House Joint Resolution 18-11, House Draft 1 by a vote of 16-1, with one voting “present” and with two absences.
Rep. Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan) voted “no” again, reiterating that the Retirement Fund settlement agreement is unconstitutional.
Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) voted “present.” Tebuteb is one of the 16 Fund members who opted out of the settlement class.
Absent were Reps. Richard Seman (R-Saipan) and Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian).
Attorney General Joey Patrick San Nicolas, along with assistant attorneys general Teresita Sablan and Reena Patel, met with members of the House and Senate on the concerns raised by the attorneys of plaintiff Johnson on the “Be it further resolved clause” in the resolution that both houses adopted last week.
During the House session, vice speaker Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan) said the Senate amendment to the original resolution, HJR 18-10, HD1, “basically killed” the resolution.
Dela Cruz said the problematic clause from the Senate says the Legislature is basically approving only a part of the settlement agreement and reserves the right to sue the parts it disagrees with.
“That’s why plaintiff’s counsels said ‘you’re not acting in good faith’,” he said, adding it was not also clear which parts the Legislature, particularly the Senate, disagrees with.
During the settlement deal’s preliminary approval, some $10 million was disbursed.
The remainder, or $42 million, will be released after final approval of the settlement agreement and then after legislative approval.
This story is developing.