The 3rd CNMI Youth Congress is set to re-introduce on its first regular session in January an initiative seeking to amend and clarify the functions of the Youth Congress after Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio disapproved the legislation due to several conflicting provisions.
Youth Congress Speaker Angel A. Demapan expressed a sigh of relief over the governor’s decision although youth senators were hoping for a recall, not a veto of House Bill 12-209 or the Youth Congress Revision Act.
“We are happy that the legislation reached the governor’s desk,” said Mr. Demapan.
Had the legislation escape veto at the executive branch, 11 of the 22 incumbent youth senators would have faced disqualification from the Youth Congress due to the proposed implementation of the retroactive clause on the age limit, an input made by the Senate.
“Based on our consultations with the house floor leader, the Youth Congress would need to re-introduce the bill and this time, we’re hoping the Senate would not add in the retroactive clause. So minus that, we plan to introduce the initiative as is,” said the youth leader.
Mr. Demapan expressed optimism lawmakers would act expeditiously on the legislation this time around.
“We don’t think there will be any problem in the house. In the Senate, we’re hoping for the same thing,” he added.
The Youth Congress Amendment Act of 1999 was a brainchild of Mr. Demapan, an initiative he introduced during the 2nd CNMI Youth Congress when he was also the speaker.
The intent behind the bill is aimed at ironing out “limiting” provisions in public law 8-27 which gave birth to the Youth Congress.
Earlier, concerns have been raised that the one-year tenure for youth senators is too short to make significant youth reforms. Youth leaders have proposed that the Legislature double the term of office.
The revised act is also proposing to restrict the age requirement for youth senators from the current 14 to 21 to 13 to 18.
The proposed initiative also aims to change the 10-month residency requirement to 45 days for candidates to be eligible to run for a seat in the Youth Congress. The Legislature follows the same residency prerequisite.
The Youth Congress was established in 1993 but the election of its 22 members did not begin until 1998 under the direct supervision of the Legislative Bureau.
The CNMI Youth Congress has been established to provide a system that prepares the youths to meet the challenges of the future and educate the younger population on electoral, legislative, and governmental processes.