ON BILL ADDRESSING MOLD, AC UNITS AT GUMA HUSTISIA
The 20th CNMI Legislature will plunge into a conference committee after the House of Representatives rejected Senate amendments to a bill that appropriates $15 million to various projects throughout the Commonwealth, including the mold mediation and air-conditioning replacement of the Guma Hustisia.
After being shut down for more than a month, the Guma Hustisia would have to wait for a few more weeks as bicameral discussions ensue as the House during a session yesterday rejected Senate amendments to Rep. Angel A. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-164.
The Senate moved money around that were supposedly directed to the Sugar Dock restoration project and $3 million to a secured account in case of disaster or emergency towards various programs of Tinian and Rota.
The House rejected Senate amendments with a vote of 16-2. Reps. Glenn Maratita (R-Rota) and Edwin Aldan (R-Tinian) both voted against rejecting the Senate amendments.
“There were amendments that would really provide funding to programs we have on Tinian,” said Aldan in an interview with Saipan Tribune. The Senate included in their amendments an appropriation of $25,000 from the House proposal to set aside $3 million emergency funding to the Tinian Department of Public Safety operations and their police academy, which urged Aldan to vote for its passage.
In an interview, the bill’s author Demapan did not specifically point out which Senate amendments were not to their liking, but he did say that some proposed Senate amendments have already been addressed by a previous public law.
“…They need some clarification on those particular appropriations,” he said. “…[The Senate] made significant changes to the House version, particularly to the land compensation payments and to the reserve funds appropriation. Because that is very significant we fell that it is best addressed in conference committee,” he continued.
House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan) appointed Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) as chair for the House conferees and Reps. Blas “BJ” Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan) and Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) as members.
Angel Demapan on the House floor yesterday stated his concern for yet again delaying the $7-million appropriation to the Judiciary for their mold mediation and new air-conditioning units procurement.
“…We had hope to see swift movement on the legislation so the Judiciary could go back to normal operations but more so for our Commonwealth people to have access to judicial services. The fact that this [legislation] goes to conference committee will set it back some time, but we hope both conferees from the House and Senate will reach a resolution sooner than later,” he said.
The Guma Hustisia, which houses majority of the judicial branch’s courts and services, fell victim to a plaguing mold problem due to the humidity of the climate on the islands. Coupled with the failing air-conditioning units of the building, the mold problem reached the extent of being a health hazard, thus forcing the Guma Hustisia to close.