Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) said Thursday that the Legislature still has enough time to act on the local minimum wage bill, which aims to bring the CNMI’s floor wage to $7.25 an hour. Demapan introduced House Bill 19-187 and, if signed into law by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, would immediately bring the minimum wage to the federal level.
House Speaker Rafael S. Demapan (R-Saipan), introduced a separate bill, HB 19-23, last year that also hopes to increase the minimum wage to the federal level but in increments.
The Senate, last Wednesday, passed HB 19-23 with amendments that Rep. Angel Demapan said includes the intention of HB 19-187. “The Senate amended the speaker’s bill to put the intent of my bill inside. I’m totally fine with incorporating my bill.”
“No matter which bill goes forward, my concern is the intent of my bill, to bring it straight to $7.25 without delay. We are all excited with the direction the Senate is taking,” added Demapan, who attended Thursday’s proclamation signing declaring October as Domestic Abuse Awareness Month at the Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Hall.
He said the House wants to see the Senate amendments and act on it sooner than later. The House is expected to discuss it at its next session. “I have no issues if the spirit of the amendments are the same on my bill, to bring it to $7.25 without delay.
He believes that raising the minimum wage to the federal level would make the lives of people in the CNMI better. “Raising the minimum wage, if we do this, would also raise the quality of life and the standards in our community.”
“We are making people’s lives more comfortable than it was. Making it better is also one way to address the social issues.” The bill goes back to the House where they would approve it if they would agree to the Senate amendments.
If it passes the House, the bill would await the signing of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who said in previous interviews that he would sign it right away. “The governor has been a strong supporter of increasing the minimum wage straight to the federal level,” said Demapan.
“Once the House acts on the amendment, it will no longer go to the committee. The governor is ready and willing to sign it into law. The spirit of the amendment is to achieve the same purpose. We are hoping to have it ready for the governor to sign it.”
He thanked the Senate for agreeing with the House, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the business community, and the administration for supporting the minimum wage bill.
“Obviously our economy has reach a point that all employees can now share in the success.
Sharing in the success, we now have a chance to lift the standard of living and improve the quality of life more than before,” said Demapan.