Islands’ voters endorse three House legislative initiatives


Voters were decisive in their decision to approve on Tuesday three legislative initiatives that were on the ballot: one that calls for a convention to propose changes to the NMI Constitution, another that amends the blood quantum formula to be considered of Northern Marianas descent, and one that raises the budget threshold of public schools in the Commonwealth.

All three initiatives—House Bill 18-5, House Legislative Initiative 18-1, and House Legislative Initiative 18-12—received a majority of “yes” votes from CNMI voters on election day. The results are deemed unofficial until certified by the Commonwealth Election Commission.

According to Article 18 Section 5(b) of the CNMI Constitution, an amendment proposed by legislative initiative becomes effective if approved by a majority of the votes cast.

The constitutional convention initiative, House Bill 18-5, received 7,633 “yes” votes and a total of 3,953 “no” votes.

Under Section 2 of Article 18 of the CNMI Constitution, the Legislature may submit to voters the question of whether or not they desire another constitutional convention.

Majority of both legislative chambers passed the bill to put the question on the ballot. With its passage in Tuesday’s election, a constitutional convention may be held to propose amendments to the Constitution in the future.

House Legislative Initiative 18-1 garnered a total of 5,895 “yes” votes and 5,453 “no” votes.

With the passage of this initiative, voters agreed to amend Article 12, Section 4 of the CNMI Constitution to permit any U.S citizen with “at least some degree” of Chamorro or Carolinian blood to be considered a person of Northern Marianas descent and can therefore own land in the CNMI. Article 12 restricts landownership in the CNMI to those considered NMD.

House Legislative Initiative 18-12, which increases the CNMI Public School System’s 15 percent annual government appropriation by 10 percentage points, earned 7,826 “yes” votes and 3,958 “no” votes.

The Public School System’s annual government appropriation will now be increased to 25 percent because the majority of votes favored the budget increase.

CNMI Board of Education student representative Loria Hocog told Saipan Tribune she is thankful for the voters’ support.

“The 25 percent that PSS will now receive will enhance the environment and education of the future leaders of the CNMI,” she said. “The voters have spoken.”

Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan echoed Hocog’s sentiments.

“I am grateful for the vote of confidence from the electorate on H.L.I 18-12 and in believing that the CNMI should invest 25 percent of the CNMI revenue in education and for our children,” she said in an interview. “This is certainly history in the making and our work to continuously improve our school system and make it the best in the region will now move forward.”

This year’s election had a record-breaking number 17,986 registered voters.

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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