Further action on a Senate bill extending the maximum public land leases from 40 years to 55 years now rests with the House floor leader, according to House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan).
Demapan said it is now the prerogative of House floor leader Rep. Glenn Maratita (R-Rota) whether he would agree to extract the bill from the House Natural Resources Committee and place it on the bill calendar after committee members reached an impasse on whether or not to hold a public hearing on the bill.
Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) chairs the committee.
The committee also agreed that it was futile to move for the adoption of the bill just to end up with another deadlock.
In an interview, Demapan noted that placing Senate President Arnold Palacios’ (R-Saipan) Senate Bill 20-35, SD3 on the calendar would be discussed this Friday, either before the House session or at least during the leadership meeting.
“We would definitely discuss that issue during the leadership meeting and, from there, we would know what direction we would take,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
The CNMI Senate unanimously passed SB 20-35 in a session in August 2017. When asked whether or not a public hearing on the bill should have been held, he said it is always good to have as much information as possible.
“It is always good to have public hearings, but it is the prerogative of the committee chair’s,” said Demapan.
“…We would always have to take the recommendation of the committee, because that is their due diligence. Their due diligence is to make sure that they obtain as much information [as they can] so that each member is equipped with [necessary information to make] sound judgment,” he added.