Senators passed yesterday afternoon a bill that lowers the fire safety code permit from $500 to anywhere between $25 and $150, depending on the type of business, in response to businesses’ sentiments that an annual $500 permit is “exorbitant,” “unreasonable” and far exceeds almost all types of business fees and licenses in the CNMI.
The Senate passed by a vote of 7-0 Sen. Pete Reyes’ (Ind-Saipan) Senate Bill 18-36 at 4:07pm yesterday without amendment.
The bill now goes to the House. Reyes hopes the House will also support the proposal.
During the session, Reyes said the $500 flat permit fee is unacceptable to the business community because it does not take into account the nature and size of business.
“Right now, the fee is $500 whether it’s a big hotel or a mom and pop store. The bill will bring a much reasonable rate depending on the type and size of business,” he said later.
If enacted into law, the fire safety code permit will only be $25 for businesses with less than 10 employees, private schools, or any learning institution.
The proposed fee is $50 for a theater, hall, or other buildings for theatrical purposes, or for public entertainment.
For a garage or building for commercial repairing, cleaning, upkeep or storage of automobiles, trucks or gasoline engines, the proposed fee is $75.
For hotels, motels and any other building or establishment, the proposed fee is $100.
SB 18-36 also seeks a $125 fee for any business that distributes, stores, uses, or sells fireworks.
Lastly, the bill proposes a $150 fee for any business that distributes, stores, uses, or sells gasoline, diesel, or propane gas or any other type of gas.
Reyes said yesterday that inspecting businesses for fire safety code compliance shouldn’t be that complicated, considering that the same businesses had already secured a certificate of occupancy that also requires compliance with building and fire safety rules, among other things.
“But I agree that the inspection should be done every year,” the senator.
The Department of Public Safety’s Fire Division chief is tasked with coming up with regulations once the bill is signed into law.
CUC reconnection fee bill
Reyes reminded his colleagues of tonight’s Saipan public hearing on a bill seeking to lower the Commonwealth Utilities Corp’s reconnection fee from $60 to $25.
The public hearing on Senate President Ralph Torres’s (R-Saipan) SB 18-30, organized by the Senate and House Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications Committees, will be at 6pm today at the Legislature.
In yesterday’s session, Reyes lamented the absence of any CUC representative during a public hearing on the bill on Tinian and hopes that tonight’s public hearing on Saipan will draw CUC’s participation. The Rota public hearing has yet to be rescheduled.