Acting governor Ralph DLG Torres signed into law last Friday a bill that now requires all tour companies to register their vehicles at the Department of Commerce.
House Bill 19-41, HD 1, authored by Rep. Antonio P. Sablan, passed the House of Representatives on first and final reading last July 17. It subsequently got the Senate’s nod last Oct. 29, also passing in first and final reading without amendments.
The Legislature introduced and approved the bill, now Public Law 19-28, after finding that tour companies have been maximizing profits by only registering the minimal number of vehicles under the name of the company, while using more vehicles for services they provide to their customers.
“Additionally, the Legislature finds that some of the vehicles with proper signage do not have them written in English. The Legislature finds that it is important that each vehicle belonging to our companies be registered and issued a permit by the Department of Commerce so that they will be accounted for within the Commonwealth, most especially those that provide services for profit,” PL 19-28 further reads.
The measure states that while many of the tour companies have been doing business in the CNMI for awhile, it is but proper to take necessary steps to prevent them from taking advantage of certain loopholes in the local law, especially with the growth of the Commonwealth’s tourism industry.
Under the new statute, the Department of Commerce will be responsible for issuing a permit number to each vehicle belonging to tour companies.
It also requires tour companies to have proper signage written in English on each of their vehicles with the permit number provided by Commerce. The law also noted that Commerce could charge a reasonable fee for each registered vehicle.