Judiciary building’s funding to be expected soon


A lawmaker expects the funding for the Judiciary to replace its air-conditioning system and mold remediation to be ready soon after bicameral discussions resulted in a compromise.

House conferees chair Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), said Thursday last week that, after speaking with House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan), it was learned that the House official is looking at the chamber acting on Rep. Angel A. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-164 soon.

Sablan is joined on the conference committee by Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) and Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero (R-Saipan).

The bicameral conference committee was created after the House rejected Senate amendments, which included watering down the Sugar Dock rebuilding project from $700,000 to $200,000.

During conference committee discussions, Sablan said the committee was able to agree on restoring the $700,000 for the project.

“We adopted a compromise product,” said Sablan, adding that Saipan will get $1.7 million, inclusive of the Sugar Dock project funding and funding for a new waste transfer station at the southern side of Saipan.

“Tinian and Rota will get $1.2 million each,” said Sablan.

According to the conference committee report on H.B. 20-164, the committee agreed to appropriate $1.2 million for Rota’s Pinatang Beach Park renovation; municipal employee salaries; the construction of a concrete wall to secure the Rota water cave area; Rota medical subsistence allowance; Rota interisland medical referral patient and escort stipends; Rota interisland medical referral air transportation costs; and many more.

“I thank the House and Senate conferees for expeditiously reaching a mutual compromise with respect to H.B. 20-164 as the legislation contains critical needs for all senatorial districts,” said Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota), who is joined by Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) and Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) on the bicameral committee.

Santos said she hopes for the immediate adoption of the conference committee report to expedite the bill’s enactment.

The $1.2 million for Tinian would fund the improvement and pavement of roads at Marpo Heights II subdivision on Tinian; for full-time employees under the Department of Public Safety on Tinian for the last two quarters of fiscal year 2018; the procurement of a van for the Tinian Office of Aging; the procurement of a vehicle for the Tinian Division of Building Safety; and the procurement of a vehicle for the Tinian Department of Finance.

The conferees agreed not to touch the $7 million appropriation for the Judiciary’s mold and air-conditioning problem and the $3 million for the land taking compensation.

They did, however, alter the appropriation to Docomo Pacific, a private telecommunications company that entered an agreement with the CNMI government back in 2016 to allow Tinian and Rota connection to their fiber optic cable.

The end-cost owed Docomo Pacific totaled $650,000 per island.

The conferees found out that a partial payment of $485,000 was appropriated under Public Law 20-58 from Tinian’s Solid Waste Management Revolving Fund for that purpose as a portion of the CNMI government’s share for the installation and operation of the fiber optic network.

The conferees amended the bill to be in line with the discovery, making their appropriation to Docomo Pacific a total of $815,000 instead of the initial $1.3 million.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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