Lawmakers could be facing busy days ahead, considering the number of bills introduced during the second day of the First Regular Session of the 19th House of Representative on Friday.
More than 20 House bills, aside from a substantial number of House resolutions, are on the table for lawmakers to work on.
The introduction of the bills took well over an hour, House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) told the press after the session, which lasted more than two hours.
There were no deliberations on the bills.
Guerrero said he “was not surprised at all,” because a lot the bills were rehashed from the last Legislature.
“All of the bills introduced today will be treated the same,” Guerrero said.
One of the bills, House Bill 19-3, generated a lot of public comments from different agencies including the fire department, police department, and other agencies. Most of the comments generated support for H.B 19-3 and some called for its immediate approval.
H.B 19-3, introduced by vice speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan), seeks to enact a new base salary schedule for classified civil service government employees and to increase the salary ceiling for government employees.
Guerrero said the respective committees will now have to study the bills and consider public comments on these bills. “We will treat them like we normally do,” he said.
For H.B 19-3, Guerrero said the public comments will be a part of the review of the Committee on Ways and Means.
Guerrero said he expects more comments on H.B 19-3 to come in. “There are still many considerations to be made,” the lawmaker said, because government “haven’t raised salaries.”
For Rep. Glenn L. Maratita (R-Rota), the number of bills introduced in the session means lawmakers would need to “roll up their sleeves” and work.
Maratita, a first-time lawmaker, introduced House Local Bill 19-1, calling for the appropriation of $11 million in local license fees collected for poker and pachinko slot machines in the first senatorial district.
Maratita, who chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations, said he has already called a meeting with members to discuss some of the bills falling under his committee.
One of the items of discussions, he said, will be to add $4 million to the proposed $11 million appropriation.
For Rep. Joseph Lee Pan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan), his committee will continue to work on tourism. Guerrero, who chairs the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism, said he will initiate meetings with the tourism board and discuss tourism-related concerns.
The lawmaker introduced H.B. 19-17 calling for a clearer definition for licensing of tour operators and tour guides by the Marianas Visitors Authority. He said he will also meet with his committee members to discuss this further. (Joel D. Pinaroc)