Fitial vows to work with incoming Legislature

Posted on Dec 30 2005

Speaker and Gov.-elect Benigno R. Fitial convened the14th House of Representatives for the last time yesterday.

Fourteen of the 18 House members showed up for the last session. Those who failed to attend were Reps. Martin Ada, Jesus Lizama, Justo Quitugua, and Norman Palacios.

During the session, the House voted to shelve all the bills in the agenda, as well as those pending in the committees.

Included in yesterday’s bill calendar were measures that would amend public land lease rates, increase power rates, establish a sexual offender registration notification, and authorize a $2-million public debt for the purchase of an incinerator and the construction of an incinerator facility in the Commonwealth.

The House members also adopted several resolutions and had a brief discussion regarding the case of Peter Towai, a U.S. serviceman currently serving in Iraq whose employment contract was not renewed by the Legislative Bureau.

Lastly, each member took the floor to have his or her say on the adjournment of the 14th House of Representatives.

The lawmakers revisited the past two years they have spent as members of the 14th Legislature and thanked each other for the support they got.

They congratulated Fitial, Vice Speaker and Lt. Gov.-elect Timothy P. Villagomez, and the House members who will be returning to the Legislature in January. They wished the others good luck.

Rep. Heinz Hofschneider, who lost to Fitial by 99 votes last election, offered help to the governor-elect’s incoming administration. “We are sinking economically speaking. We can’t be divisive. We need all the support and help we can get from people,” he said.

Hofschneider also said he was leaving the Legislature with a heavy heart, having served as a lawmaker for 14 straight years. “I’ve always believed that if you want to make a difference, you do it in the House. My heart is here in this chamber,” he said.

Rep. David Apatang, who was Hofschneider’s running mate in the Nov. 5 election, urged the returning House members to continue working on the laws that that the 14th House was not able to finish.

“We have resolved a lot of problems. But we still haven’t resolved some that are really urgent. Please work on these priorities. Work together with the new administration and always try to do the right thing,” Apatang said.

House minority leader Arnold Palacios said he considered it one of the 14th House’s accomplishment to have been able to “transcend the political divide” in the House chamber.

“As a returning member in the 15th Legislature, I will make a personal commitment to work with you in whatever way I can,” he told Fitial.

Other House minority members echoed Palacios’ offer of cooperation.

Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero commended Fitial for encouraging debate on the floor. “When we came in two years, this House was divided. The public thought great battles would be fought. I myself had presumptions. I thought the minority would be suppressed. But you are a consensus builder; you allowed discourse,” he said.

“A lot of issues were voted based on merit [rather than political affiliation]. Sometimes, the majority voted with the minority [and vice versa]. That characterizes the 14th and we should be proud of that,” he added.

Other members, including Vice Speaker Villagomez, and Reps. Janet Maratita and Clyde Norita, said their stint in the Legislature had been a learning experience.

Fitial, who was the last to speak, vowed to continue working closely with the Legislature when he takes over the Executive Branch.

“I will meet regularly with the House and the Senate and be transparent with them,” he said.

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