Citing lack of information about its costs to administer, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has vetoed a bill that proposes to have the CNMI join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) to improve and expand access to mental health care in the CNMI.
Torres informed the House of Representatives and the Senate last week that although he vetoed House Bill No. 22-80.
He said although he supports the Legislature’s initiative to improve and expand mental health care within the Commonwealth, there is a financial commitment to joining the PSYPACT which will coordinate the efforts of the participating jurisdictions to provide and regulate psychology services within the jurisdictions.
“Because the authors of the bill did not include any information detailing what the estimated annual costs will be to administer PSYPACT for any funding support via appropriation to support this annual financial commitment for the Commonwealth, I must respectfully exercise my constitutional authority to veto this bill,” the governor said.
Torres asked the Legislature to ensure that accountability exists before financial commitments are made on behalf of the Commonwealth by way of legislative action.
Reps. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) and Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) are the main authors of the bill. The House passed the legislation last April 27 without amendments. The Senate passed it without amendments last July 22.
Sablan earlier stated that House Bill 22-80 brings the CNMI one step closer to joining the PSYPACT, an interstate compact designed to facilitate the practice of telepsychology and the temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across state boundaries.
She said the bill would expand CNMI residents’ access to mental healthcare, including specialized services not currently available in the Marianas.