Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said Friday he will discuss with Attorney General Edward Manibusan the bill the Legislature just passed that gives more powers to the Commonwealth Casino Commission.
When asked for comments about the bill at a radio news briefing last week, Torres said that important bills that go through his office are routinely reviewed by their legal counsel for himself and they have discussions about them. “It is important we look at every bill that comes here thoroughly,” said the governor, pointing out that the newly passed bill will be no exception.
Once a decision is made, then they will let the people know, he added.
“But, as of today, I would like to inform everyone that we would look into it and we’ll continue to look at it thoroughly and then we’ll go from there,” Torres said.
Last Thursday, 20 members of the House of Representatives voted “yes” to the passage of House Bill 21-11, in the form of House Substitute 1, Senate Draft 1, Senate Draft 3, which not only clarifies and enhances the powers of the casino commission but also made changes to the Commonwealth Code, given the commission’s unique regulatory oversight of the casino industry in the Commonwealth.
The bill is now before Torres for action.
Vice speaker Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) introduced the legislation in February 2019. The purpose is to grant the CCC with authority as an autonomous agency to effectively and efficiently regulate the casino industry.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill with amendments last March 13.
Under the bill, CCC, and not the Finance secretary as provided under the current Commonwealth Code, shall establish and maintain a CCC regulatory fee fund to be kept separate and apart from the general funds of the government.
The bill also provides, among other things, that CCC shall have the authority to issue a license to a casino licensee. The current law gives the power to issue such a license to the Commonwealth Lottery Commission.