Bill to lure retirees to govt service awaits Senate OK[/B]
Legislation aimed at enticing retirees to return to government service is awaiting action by the Senate as lawmakers hope the proposal will address shortage of teachers and nurses on the islands. If it becomes law, H.B. 12-231 will exempt retired government employees who have availed of the early retirement bonus from paying back the benefit once they decide to work again in the public sector. The proposed waiver will be an incentive to them since many are reluctant to return to government service precisely because of the requirement, according to lawmakers.
House Vice Speaker Alejo M. Mendiola yesterday welcomed the decision by the governor to sign into law the bill he had sponsored creating an independent agency that will administer all public lands in the Northern Marianas. Public Law 12-33, approved the other day by Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio, forms an Office of Public Lands out of the present Board of Public Lands and Division of Public Lands to give the crucial agency more autonomy under the Executive Branch. Mendiola said this is necessary to ensure that decisions regarding use of public lands will not be compromised, noting that the Department of Lands and Natural Resources secretary who had authority over the two agencies could implement policies inconsistent with that of BPL.
[B] Dec. 7, 2001
Group Health saves 51% from HMO[/B]
The government’s insurance arm, Group Health and Life Insurance Co., has realized a savings of 51 percent since Hawaii Pacific Medical Referral Inc. began handling its off-island medical referral services in September this year. According to Northern Mariana Islands Retirement Fund legal counsel Kathleen Troy-Rucker, Group Health has managed to incur a savings of $284,000 on its bill charges covering the period from September 1 to November 29. “It’s incredible. And we’re hoping that it’s going to be that significant every month because, for the initial time frame that we have looked at so far, that was much better than we had anticipated and had hoped for,” said Troy-Rucker.[B]US Army asks tighter security on Tinian[/B]
The United States Army has requested officials of the Tinian International Airport for additional security in line with its confidential mission on the island. Tinian Ports Manager Ed Sanchez said the military requested for security at the airport without citing any specific reasons. He said the request was forwarded last week following reports of the scheduled visit of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Commonwealth Ports Authority Board Member Ray Cing, on the other hand, disclosed that discussions are ongoing, adding that details of the talks remain sealed. Cing explained that the mission is being kept under wraps, and that only top officials of the CNMI government has been specifically informed.
[B] Dec. 7, 2002
NMI, Guam mayors briefed on bioterrorism, available funds[/B]
Three CNMI mayors and seven from Guam met yesterday for the first time on Saipan to attend the federally sponsored conference on terrorism preparedness. Conference host Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela said the conference was a good start for all the mayors amid the global threat of terrorism. “We discussed a lot of things. It’s a good seminar for all the mayors. We’re trying to make sure that everything goes well in this area,” Tudela said. He said the mayor’s office, in essence, will coordinate with all other concerned government agencies, particularly the Governor’s Office and the Emergency Management Office, on preparedness efforts. “We have to be alert,” he added.[B]Attao: Land claims settlement money to jumpstart economy[/B]
House Floor Leader Jesus T. Attao is looking forward to the end of a decade-long effort to settle with Commonwealth landowners who have had lands taken over the years for roads, right-of-ways and other purposes. Although the current settlement would cover only about 60 percent of the outstanding land compensation claims, Attao said that accomplishing this would speed up the resolution of the rest of the claims. He stressed that successful payment of the land claims will be much more than a windfall for landowners or the estates of landowners who never saw payment for their loss of property during their lifetimes.