House unanimously passes bill that sets SOCA rules


The House of Representatives unanimously passed Friday a bill that Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (Ind-Saipan) had offered to establish the process for the delivery of a governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address.

All 20 representatives voted “yes” to pass Yumul’s House Bill 23-4 in last week’s House session. No discussion was made. The bill now goes to the Senate for action.

Yumul had introduced a similar bill in the previous legislature. In re-introducing the bill, Yumul offered all members the opportunity to sign on to the legislation, noting that the bill was passed overwhelmingly in the last House.

Floor leader Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) moved for the passage of House Bill 23-4 on first and final reading.

Under the bill, the governor shall deliver an annual SOCA to the Legislature no later than March of any calendar year, and may present the SOCA live, recorded, or in writing. A written or recorded SOCA shall be transmitted by the governor to the Senate president and speaker of the House for delivery to legislative members.

Prior to any live SOCA, the governor shall give written notice of a proposed date and time to both the Senate president and House speaker no later than 45 days prior to the proposed date in order for the Legislature to consider a joint resolution setting out the time and place for the SOCA.

If such a resolution fails to pass in both Senate and House, the governor shall submit only a written or recorded SOCA.

Last Nov. 30, the House passed similar bill that Yumul filed and co-sponsored by majority members. The Senate, however, never acted on it. The House also did not pass the Senate’s version of the bill.

SOCA was controversial in the last few months of former governor Ralph DLG Torres’ term when the Senate and House adopted different dates and venues for SOCA last October, causing an impasse. This prompted Torres to cancel his planned SOCA indefinitely.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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