Editor’s Note: The following is being published in several parts due to its length.
First of a series
When I began my term in the 21st Legislature, I made a commitment to being open and transparent with you, the people of Precinct 2 and the Commonwealth, about the work I do in serving you. I also made a commitment to listen to your concerns and seek feedback as much as possible about the needs of our community and ideas for solutions.
Getting anything done in the Legislature requires working with colleagues across political lines and collaborating with other government departments and agencies, community organizations, private sector partners, and other stakeholders. I rely heavily on my team: I have been fortunate to work with terrific staff, interns, and volunteers during this term. I also rely a great deal on the dedicated and professional staff of the Legislative Bureau.
Over the course of the last two years, I have communicated and engaged with you regularly through community meetings, public hearings, news releases, statements to the press, opinion pieces, and social media. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the work we’ve done together these past two years and the work that lies ahead. I offer this report, covering legislative activities and constituent services, office operations, and outreach programs.
I serve on three standing committees in the House of Representatives: Ways and Means; Health; and Federal and Foreign Affairs. I have also been appointed to two special committees: Federal Assistance and Disaster-Related Funding; and Executive Expenditures.
As a member of the minority, I am especially cognizant of how important it is to work on both sides of the aisle in developing, reviewing, and passing bills. Much of what I have been able to do in garnering the support of my colleagues has been at the committee level and through amendments offered on the floor to clarify and improve legislation. Sometimes I offer the amendments myself, and sometimes other members take the lead. Here’s a summary of key measures I have been involved in:
Signed into Law: I have strongly advocated these past two years for increased funding for public education. To address shortfalls from the general appropriations acts, I supported and co-sponsored local appropriations measures, including Saipan Local Law 21-5, which appropriated $500,000 to the Northern Marianas College and $250,000 to the Public School System. I also supported and drafted clarifying amendments that were adopted into Saipan Local Law 21-13, which appropriated $208,000 to the Northern Marianas College, as well as $100,000 to Karidat for emergency food and rental assistance and $300,000 to the Northern Marianas Housing Corp. for rental assistance and home loans.
Last September I worked closely with PSS to identify the FEMA matching and other funding needs for schools that were still badly damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu, and presented the data to my colleagues on the Saipan & Northern Islands Legislative Delegation. SNILD members on both sides of the aisle and from different precincts agreed to appropriate $745,000 specifically to support disaster repairs and operations at various public schools on Saipan. Two of our hardest-hit schools that serve Precinct 2 students especially benefited from Saipan Local Law 21-10: Hopwood Middle School ($250,000) and WSR Elementary School ($150,000).
To be continued
Tina Sablan (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Christina Marie Sablan is a member of the CNMI House of Representatives of the 21st Legislature.