Senate overrides Fitial’s veto of CIP wage bill

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Posted on Jun 30 2011

By a vote of 8-0 with one abstention, the Senate overrode yesterday Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s veto of a bill seeking to pay employees working on federally funded capital improvement projects at least the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

This is the Senate’s third override of a governor’s veto in less than three weeks.

Senate Bill 17-56, Senate Draft 1, now goes to the House of Representatives for action.

Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota), author of the bill, said that paying employees working on CIPs a federal minimum wage was done in the past, and gave resident workers an incentive to work on Section 702-funded projects.

The CNMI’s current minimum wage is $5.05 an hour.

Of the nine senators, only Sen. Luis Crisostimo (Ind-Saipan) abstained from supporting the override.

Fitial vetoed the bill on Monday, some two years after vetoing a similar bill. He said provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act apply to the CNMI so it’s unnecessary to have this bill.

[B]Deadline extension[/B]

The Senate also passed a bill amending the law that requires the Department of Public Health to become a healthcare corporation by July 15, 2011.

The amendment pushes back the transition date to Oct. 1, 2011, to coincide with the new fiscal year. This would allow the Executive Branch to address budgetary concerns.

Senate Bill 17-80, introduced by Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), passed by a vote of 9-0.

Torres, in an interview, said another major reason for amending Public Law 16-51 is to create a “governing board of trustees” instead of an “advisory board.”

“This will improve accountability and give more weight to the board’s decision,” he said. SB 17-80 now goes to the House for action.

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