The House Committee on Natural Resources wants the CNMI Constitution to show that the Department of Public Lands is authorized to install water, power, and sewage in homesteads.
During a meeting at the House speaker’s conference room on Capital Hill, the committee amended Rep. Alice Igitol’s (R-Saipan) House Legislative Initiative 20-01 to include the installation of water, power, and sewage as necessary developments on a homestead lot.
H.L.I. 20-01 primarily seeks to distribute every year the interest accrued from the Marianas Public Land Trust Fund to those of Northern Marianas descent.
Rep. Edwin Aldan (R-Tinian), who championed the insertion of the utilities amendment, said he was prompted to do so because, according to a previous court ruling, “homestead improvements” did not include the installation of power, water, and sewage.
According to law, DPL collects revenue from the lease of public lands. Minus the amount it needs for administrative expenses, what’s left would be remitted to MPLT for investment. A disagreement between the two agencies brought them to court, where it was ruled that homestead improvements do not encompass power, water, and sewage.
According to Igitol, the amendment was based on comments during their public hearing last Tuesday, where only 13 people attended.
“[We are] amending H.L.I. 20-01 to allow MPLT to have their own regulations over the NMD benefits,” said Igitol, adding that the new provision was a separate amendment from Aldan’s.
“We will clear everything by Wednesday,” she said.
According to Igitol, the committee is scheduled to confer on the matter once more on Wednesday.