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Thursday, April 17, 2014

6 lawmakers in Alaska, Hong Kong; others also off-island

At least six lawmakers are currently in Alaska and Hong Kong on official trips, while another one will be in Guam later this week also on official business. At least three others are also outside the CNMI on personal leave.

Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and House floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan) are off-island from Dec. 10 to 18. Their travel notification did not indicate where they’re headed but Saipan Tribune sources said they’re bound for Alaska.

At the Legislature, off-island travel notifications only indicate the departure and arrival dates, but not the destination and the specific purpose of travel. As a result, most lawmakers in the CNMI are not aware where their colleagues go.

Meanwhile, four members of the Senate and House Committees on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications are in Hong Kong, at the invitation of Blue Ocean Energy Corp., which plans to invest in a $100-million, 50-megawatt liquefied natural gas plant project on Saipan.

Saipan Tribune sources said the Hong Kong-bound lawmakers include Senate PUTC Committee chair Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan), House PUTC chair Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), House vice speaker Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan), and Rep. John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan).

Hong Kong-based Blue Ocean Energy visited Saipan in May to present their plan to build an LNG power plant that they said will provide electricity at least 20 percent per kilowatt hour cheaper than what is currently charged by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.

Reps. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) and Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan) remain off-island on personal leave, right after attending a national women’s forum. Sen. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian) is also on personal leave.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) will be going back to Guam on Thursday for a meeting of the Pacific Islands Development Bank’s board of directors.

Deleon Guerrero, currently chairman of the PIDB board of governors, said he was invited to the board of directors meeting in Guam to, among other things, witness the completion of the Marshall Islands’ membership pledge to PIDB.

Member-island territories are supposed to pledge $1 million each. This week, the Marshall Islands will be turning in its remaining $250,000 pledge to reach the $1 million mark, the speaker said.

Deleon Guerrero is also the chairman of the PIDB board of governors’ capitalization task force. In this week’s meeting in Guam, they will also take up the finalization of a five-year strategic plan.

The speaker just came back from Guam to attend last week’s meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, wherein they tackled issues of common interests and proposed solutions, including in the area of healthcare and transportation.

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