22nd Legislature inauguration this Monday

Inauguration closed to public but televised live, streamed on FB

Members of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation pose for a group photo after their sine die or final session at the House chamber in Capital Hill yesterday morning. The full House will have their sine die session today, Wednesday, while the Senate will have it this Friday. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

The 22nd CNMI Legislature will be inaugurated this Monday, Jan. 11, in an invitation-only event that will be closed to much of the public in compliance with public health guidelines, but will be aired live on TV and streamed live over Facebook.

This developed as the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, chaired by Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), held a sine die or final session at the House chamber on Capitol Hill to close out the delegation yesterday morning. Sine die means an indefinite adjournment, without a scheduled resumption.

The full House of Representatives will have its sine die session today, Wednesday, at the House chamber at 10am, while the full Senate’s will be held this Friday, at 10am at the Senate chamber.

This Monday’s inaugural event for the 22nd CNMI Legislature will be televised live on Docomo Cable, Channel 23 and will be streamlined live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cnmilegislature in their respective chambers, according to the Legislative Bureau.

The inauguration at the House will be at 10am, while the Senate’s will be at 11am.

These events are happening amid suspense at the House as the question of which bloc will be the majority is still as toss-up between the traditionally dominant Republican Party and a resurgent Democratic Party.

As of yesterday, it’s still not clear whether Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, who is a member of the Republican Party, is going to align himself with the Democratic Party, as is being rumored. This move will likely make the Democrats the new majority.

At the last Nov. 3 general elections for the House race, eight Democrats, nine Republicans, and three independent candidates won.

Independent Reps. Edmund Joseph Sablan Villagomez (Saipan) and Donald Manalang Manglona (Rota) have already aligned with the Democrats, giving the Democrats 10 votes. Independent Rep. Joseph Flores (Saipan) is aligned with the Republicans, giving the Republicans 10 votes. This means that any member of both parties who aligns with the other party will break the tie for the majority.

If the Democrats become the new majority, Villagomez will likely be the House speaker. If the Republicans remain the majority, Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao could keep his seat if he is interested, Saipan Tribune learned from a source.

Another big question is if former representative Edwin K. Propst, who ran as a Democrat, will serve again as House Precinct 1 representative. As of yesterday, he was still silent about his plans, although he indicated his intent to serve again based on his recent social media posts.

At the Senate, it’s Tinian’s turn for the presidency, so Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) is expected to be the new Senate president.

At yesterday’s SNILD’s last session, minority floor leader Rep. Christina Sablan (D-Saipan) said that last year was a most difficult year, but she’s proud and grateful for the work that they were able to do together to address priority needs in the municipality, “especially the supplemental funds. We were able to identify [funds] for our educational institutions, which are still in disaster recovery.” Sablan reiterated her commitment to continue supporting Saipan and Northern Islands mayors in the 22nd Legislature.

“Thank you, colleagues. I truly enjoyed working with all of you. And, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with you, whether you are in the 22nd Legislature or as concerned and active members of our community,” Sablan said.

Attao thanked the SNILD leadership and the members for the work they did during these tough times, having appropriated funding to so many different entities to assist them. “And in these very tough times, the delegation…made sure that all the other entities on Saipan and Northern Islands are taken care of so they can provide for our community,” Attao said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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