The House of Representatives would rather have the Department of Public Lands negotiate public land leases.
In their session on Tinian last Tuesday, the House backed House Speaker Rafael Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-139, which grants the DPL secretary the authority to negotiate public land leases.
Citing previous court rulings that allow the Legislature and Executive Branch to “set the policies for the body tasked with the management and disposition of public lands as they see fit.”
This means the DPL secretary may choose to enter or not enter a public land lease agreement that is not “limited by any regulation or policy, written or unwritten,” if needed.
The bill specifies that this discretionary authority may only be exercised subject to the “fiduciary, constitutional, and statutory duties” of DPL.
Should the DPL secretary decide to exercise that discretionary authority, the secretary would specify each regulation or policy which impedes the proposed development and a detailed explanation of how the regulation or policy would affect it; explain how negotiating the public land lease is in line with DPL’s fiduciary duties; and explain how the negotiations would be in the best interest of the CNMI.