Emergency session fizzles out; 4 double pay bills will go through public hearing instead

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Not much happened at the emergency session this afternoon. It was called by Speaker Tina Muna Barnes yesterday in hopes of settling the controversy over the double pay issue for frontline GovGuam employees fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the session ended up being brief and it was marred by an objection at the start.

Four bills were originally placed on the agenda dealing with the issue of additional compensation proposed for GovGuam frontline employees fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

However, some other items got on the agenda, unrelated to the issue of double pay.

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Senator Kelly Marsh first moved to adopt the agenda. Senator Therese Terlaje objected.

“Objection madame Speaker. Madame Speaker I object to the items on second reading and I ask that we just adopt an agenda without those items and that those be placed on the agenda by motion. I know that the Speaker has authority to call us into emergency session but I do not believe she has the authority to place items on our agenda,” Terlaje said.

A recess was called, Senator Terlaje’s objection was defeated and our lawmakers decided to call for a public hearing next week on the four rival compensation bills.

That public hearing is scheduled for next Friday, May 29.

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READ the release from Senator Therese Terlaje in FULL below:

Emergency Session Was a Call to Inaction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (May 21, 2020 – Hagåtña, Guam) – Today, legislative session was gaveled in purportedly to address the emergent concern regarding the application of “double-pay” for government of Guam frontline workers. With the notice of session came waivers for public hearing by the Speaker and the potential rescheduling of the oversight hearing on emergency procurement.

Senator Therese Terlaje objected to the placement of bills on the emergency session agenda without requests or motions from the authors to waive the public hearing. It is not normal practice and perplexing that the Speaker, on her own, had waived the public hearings and then consented to immediately adjourn for a public hearing, resulting in no action by the Legislature on any business.

Senator Terlaje stated, “It is obvious now that Speaker declared an emergency without any real intention of discussing or acting on emergency pay. It was a charade, feigned urgency. Very important bills were put on the agenda without public input and without the sponsors’ motion or request (except for Speaker’s bill) and these bills were already pending a public hearing in committee. The integrity of the entire Legislature is put at risk by going along with this questionable and insincere behavior. Calls to session should not be used to serve political agendas but must seek to serve the people’s best interest in the best way possible.”

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