It’s the people’s bill now!


Editor’s Note: This letter is being published in two parts due to its length.

First of a two-part letter

It looks like my gut feelings of apprehension and interpretation were indeed legitimate, which is why I wrote the letter about the Senate’s character being tested on the marijuana bill (SB 20-62). I already knew that Sen. Sixto and I were in disagreement on some things in the bill, which had me skeptical about how it would play out. I had even stopped trying to convince the senator and withdrew my concerns so the bill could be filed. I did tell the senator that I would take my concerns about the bill to the Senate committee which I know should be part of the process before any new bill, especially an initiative, is presented to the floor for a vote. Little did I know the senator tried to do an end run around me and even tried to get the rest of the Senate to buy into his plan, which I viewed as pure political skullduggery. The bill, once filed, actually belongs to the people whom all senators have pledged to represent; it’s not Sixto’s bill anymore.

Sen. Sixto is actually trying to get the Senate to pass his new bill without it going to any committee and telling me that I “can take my concerns to the House of Representatives” in an attempt to prevent me from influencing the bill in the Senate. How can any senator present an initiative that will go to the people for a vote but won’t allow the bill to be vetted by a committee and no public hearings before the bill goes to the floor? I know the senator is playing an ugly game but the sad part is he is trying to pull other senators into his skullduggery plan to just highjack the bill so I can’t make any arguments as to why it needs to be changed. I was first told the bill was going to the Health & Welfare Committee but, when I checked with the chairwoman, she told me it was with the Judiciary Government & Law Committee. But when I checked with the Legislative Bureau, I was told the bill had been taken back by Sen. Sixto to make some changes in regards to importing and exporting and that the bill was scheduled for its final reading and vote on the 31st of this month. Every voter and every senator should be asking—why is this new bill being rushed through the Senate and why is Sixto so afraid of Ambrose?

I am sure that most people with common sense can see that what the senator is trying to do is wrong! How can a new initiative of this magnitude be sent to the floor for a vote with a shadow of doubt about its quality, correctness, and under the controversial complaint of the very person who wrote more of the bill than Sen. Sixto. This is an entirely new initiative that the senator is trying to pass without any public hearing and without anyone even being allowed to comment on the bill. Passing the buck to the House of Representatives just to avoid me being able to comment on the bill and argue for changes is ugly. Worse, it is unethical and unbecoming of a person who holds the title of senator.

I am humbly and respectfully asking Senate President Arnold Palacios and Senate Vice President Steve Mesngon to please put an end to this skullduggery plan of Sen. Sixto who continues to refuse to even return my calls or give me a chance to meet with him and senators. The bill is flawed and the Senate should have learned from the rush job with the casino that bills of this magnitude deserve all scrutiny possible. It is also telling of the wrongdoing to rush the bill when we still have almost a year-and-a-half before the bill will even be voted on. So why the rush, why put it on the House of Representatives and why put me off, as the truth is clearly in the details that Sen. Sixto is scheming to avoid me.

I hope other senators and voters can now see why I was so adamant that Sixto was not going to do right by the people he serves on this bill just to avoid me. Honor and character just flew out the window because Sixto can’t defend the bill that Gerry Hemsly wants, not what the people want. I have no problem with senators and the people vetting the changes I am recommending as I know they will stand on their own merits.

To be continued

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

Ambrose M. Bennett

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