Gov. Eloy S. Inos vetoed a bill that would have reinstated $80 million for the NMI Retirement Fund, saying the settlement deal in Johnson v Inos already calls for a settlement fund that will administer the benefits of retirees.
“Therefore, the NMIRF does not need an $80 million appropriation to meet obligations to pay retiree benefits,” the governor said in his veto message to the Legislature on House Bill 18-124.
The bill, authored by House Ways and Means Committee chair Tony Sablan (Ind-Saipan), sought to correct an oversight in the fiscal year 2014 budget law to allow the Fund to pay the full amount of retirement benefits.
However, on Sept. 30, the U.S. District Court for the NMI gave final approval of the settlement agreement in Johnson v Inos. Pursuant to that agreement, a separate settlement fund will administer the benefit and all of the CNMI government’s annual payments should be made directly to the settlement fund.
“Such annual payments are appropriated through an NMI DB Employer contribution line item,” the governor told House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan).
The governor vetoed the Fund appropriation bill on Oct. 16
Inos signed two new laws on Oct. 18, including one that amends the CNMI Weapons Control Act and allows with restrictions the operation of outdoor shooting ranges and skeet shooting projects.
Inos signed Rep. Christopher Leon Guerrero’s (Cov-Saipan) House Bill 18-29, House Draft 2 or the Recreational Target Range Act of 2013, into Public Law 18-26.
This new law authorizes the licensing of shooting galleries and shooting ranges and places restrictions on their operation.
A shooting gallery means a licensed business place, other than a shooting range, with a minimum capital investment of $500,000 at which the general public may discharge firearms upon payment of a fee.
A shooting range, meanwhile, means a development with a minimum aggregate capital investment of $250,000 where amenities include, at a minimum, a restaurant, retail shop, office spaces, recreational facilities, and target and range facilities for rifle and handgun competition.
Other requirements include facilities for hosting of major international shooting competitions in accordance with International Shooting Sport Federation rules.
The term “weapons” under the new law means any rifle, shotgun, archery, and ammunition approved by the Department of Public Safety for use at shooting galleries and shooting ranges.
Investors that want to engage in this type of business must obtain a license from DPS and a general business license from the Department of Finance.
The new law requires DPS to establish rules for the secure storage of weapons that are to be kept in the premises of the shooting galleries or shooting ranges. These businesses must also buy at least $5 million of liability insurance coverage.
DPS will also set the rules on the use of proper equipment, material and design, training in the safe handling and operation of firearms for all employees, and their hiring of a range safety officer or basic firearms instructor certified by the National Rifle Association of America. In the alternative, police officers may be employed to supervise day-to-day operations.
PL 18-26 has a grandfather provision that exempts any shooting gallery whose license was in effect on Oct. 18, 2013.
The governor also signed Rep. Trenton Conner’s (Ind-Tinian) House Bill 18-33 into Public Law 18-25.
This new law reestablishes the Commonwealth Board of Nurse Examiners as an autonomous public agency.
It also provides the board with expenditure authority over its funds to ensure its ability to function independently and more effectively.
Under the current statute, the Board is created within the Department of Public Health (now Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.).
The Board is also afforded the power to reappoint members to a second term if no other appointment appears forthcoming after 90 days.