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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Governor urges lawmakers to include fund sources, exact amounts in bills
2 new local laws on bus shelter repairs, renaming street in honor of Mount Carmel

Gov. Eloy S. Inos signed Friday a local bill re-appropriating $8,791 in poker fees originally intended for pedestrian crosswalks for the repair of dilapidated bus shelters on Precinct 1. This was followed yesterday by another local law renaming Hagoi Road as “Knight Street” in honor of Mount Carmel School’s 61st anniversary.

The governor, in signing Rep. Tony Sablan’s (Ind-Saipan) House Local Bill 18-39, encouraged members of the CNMI Legislature and their staff to ensure the inclusion in future bills of “details” with respect to sources of funds and/or the exact amounts of public funding that will be used to achieve their legislative purposes and goals.

Otherwise, there is a risk that such pieces of legislation will be vetoed, he said.

Inos said he supports HLB 18-39’s intent but he signed it “with reservation” because the bill “does not reference a specific amount of money to be used for the purposes for which this law was enacted.”

The bill instead only references the balance of funds remaining in Business Unit 33950 or Saipan Local Law 17-9.

Upon further research, Inos said he has learned that within the particular business account, there remains $8,791 available to be used to repair bus shelters in Precinct 1.

“Therefore, funding for this project cannot exceed the amount and this limitation should have been included in the legislation because no alternative sources of funding have been identified,” the governor said in his Jan. 17 transmittal letter to Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation chair Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan).

Sablan’s local bill is now Saipan Local Law 18-9.

Sablan, when sought for comment yesterday, said he understands the governor’s concerns but assured him that spending will be limited to what’s available.

“I believe the $8,791 is sufficient for what we wanted to do,” the House Ways and Means Committee chairman said.

Sablan said the bill would help ensure the safety and health of school children in Precinct 1, including those going to and from schools in San Antonio and Koblerville.

He said when a local bill was being introduced in the previous Legislature with a provision to set aside poker fees for the construction of Precinct 1 pedestrian cross walk, his office sought price quotation from the Department of Public Works for the project.

But after the bill was already passed and signed into law, DPW came back to say that they could build the cross walks using federal highway safety funds, Sablan said. This prompted him to introduce a local bill re-appropriating the money for bus shelter repairs in Precinct 1.

Meanwhile, the governor also signed into law yesterday House floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan) and Rep. John Paul Sablan’s (Cov-Saipan) HLB 18-29 into Saipan Local Law 18-10.

The new local law renames Hagoi Road in Chalan Kanoa as “Knight Street,” in honor of Mount Carmel School’s 61st anniversary in 2013.

The governor signed this new local law while also signing yesterday morning a proclamation declaring Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2014 Catholic Schools Week, at the Mount Carmel Diocesan Curia.

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