Two pieces of legislation that would amend existing laws were re-introduced when the House of Representatives held its first regular session last Friday at the House chamber on Capital Hill.
Vice speaker Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) re-introduced House Bill 21-11 or the Commonwealth Casino Commission Amendment bill, while floor leader Rep. John Paul P. Sablan (R-Saipan) authored H.B. 21-13, which would make changes to Public Law 20-66 or the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018.
H.B. 21-11 and 21-13 were identical to the two bills that were introduced by former representative Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero in the 20th Legislature as H.B. 20-82 and H.B. 20-196.
H.B. 20-86 passed the House and went to the Senate where they made some changes to include the concerns of the CNMI Office of the Attorney General. The Senate sent it back to the House where it failed to gain the three-fourths vote that’s required in a lame-duck legislature.
CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero, who attended last Friday’s session with CCC chair Juan M. Sablan and commissioner Ramon M. Dela Cruz, said that H.B. 20-82 was discussed and reviewed both by the House and Senate gaming committees in the previous Legislature but it failed to pass the final hurdle. Now they hope it would finally move forward.
“That’s the reason why we’re here. It has been assigned to the [House] Gaming Committee and we will be going before chair [Rep. Ralph] Yumul and we will be presenting our position. It is our effort, as the regulatory body created by P.L. 18-56, to regulate the new casino industry,” Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune.
“Since Day 1 when we took over, we recognized that some of the provisions [in P.L. 18-56] needed to be clarified and tightened up. So, this is part of the clarification issues: it will enable the CCC to be autonomous, be a [law] enforcement agency, and would address certain issues that I think would be for the betterment of the [CNMI].”
Former representative Joseph Deleon Guerrero also introduced H.B. 20-196 but it failed to move forward. This time, Rep. J.P. Sablan re-introduced the same bill.
The CNMI Cannabis Commission is waiting for the companion bill that would address the provisions line-items vetoed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres when he signed into law P.L. 20-66. The commission is trying to get organized so they could formulate the implementing rules that would regulate the new cannabis industry.