Guam – The 31st Guam legislature passed several bills this afternoon ending this legislature’s first session. Today they voted on a few controversial bills including bill 33 and 34 which both deal with sexual crimes committed against minors.
Bill 33 was passed lifting the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual crimes committed against minors. The most controversial bill or bill 34 was also passed lifting the statute of limitations for civil suits against those who commit sex crimes against minors. Bill 34 received 9 votes with six senators voting no namely Senator Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Chris Duenas, Judi Guthertz, Rory Respicio and Dennis Rodriguez Jr. the final version of the bill includes a requirement for a certificate of merit signed by the attorney and a licensed mental health practitioner. This was included to help prevent false accusations. Guam’s archdiocese was opposed to the measure. During a public hearing deacon Jeff Barcinas testified against the bill saying that it was a direct attack against the church.
Another controversial bill passed was bill 44 which outlaws the practice of shark finning wherein sharks have their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back into the ocean to die. The Guam fisherman’s coop opposed the measure at first but after amendments were made they agreed to it. The final version allows for the catching of shark for subsistence and traditional and cultural sharing purposes. It also prohibits chumming or the feeding of sharks.
Lawmakers also passed bill 9 or the animal cruelty bill which gives new requirements for keeping animals on Guam. Pet or animal owners must provide the animals with sufficient food, water, shelter and protection from the weather. They also need space to exercise, and a reasonably clean area that is free of excrement. Domestic animals like dogs and cats must be given continuous access to an area with adequate space and room for exercise necessary for the health of the animal. It also outlaws animal abandonment wherein a person intentionally leaves a domestic animal at a location without providing minimum care. Also if there exigent circumstances that is probable cause to believe that an animal’s life is in danger any officer may enter the premises to impound the animal.
Senator Respicio sent a release this afternoon explaining his reason for voting no on bill 34. The senator states “The focus of the Bill 34 should have been on the victims, however, this bill is fraught with unintended consequences creating an opportunity for lawyers and ambulance chasers. The most prudent means for protecting our children from sexual predators is Bill 33, which was passed unanimously.”
Now that the bills are passed the governor has 10 working days to act on the bills or else they are lapsed into law. Here is the complete list of bills that were passed:
Bill 9 – Relative to keeping animals in Guam
Bill 16 – Relative to the composition and powers of the Guam Parole Board
Bill 33 – An act to repeal the statute of limitation for the prosecution of a sex crime involving a victim who is under the age of the majority
Bill 34 – Relative to the statute of limitations for civil actions involving child sex abuse
Bill 36 – Establishing the “Government of Guam mitigation program for business interuption.”
Bill 41 – Relative to bullying, cyberbulling, and sexting.
Bill 44 – An Act to prohibit the possession, selling offering for sale trading or distribution of shark fins and ray parts.
Bill 48 – Relative to providing temporary expedited procurement procedures to assist with the disbursement of stimulus funds under the “2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
Bill 55 – An Act to authorize the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority to solicit and contract in whole or in part for the management and operation of vendor services relative to cafeteria snack bar restaurant and or other food service activities.
Bill 58 – Relative to authorizing the granting of administrative leave for volunteer sign language and foreign language interpreters.