In less than a week into the new year, lawmakers convened and introduced 4 new bills. All 4 bills aim to promote the island’s economy and provide relief to island residents.
4 bills and a resolution started off this 37th Guam Legislature. All 4 bills relate to helping Guam residents cope with ongoing inflation.
The first bill wants to exclude the added value housing due to the installation of solar panels.
The bill was authored by Senator Sabina Perez. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels increase the value of a home by 17%.
In the mainland, a home equipped with a standard solar panel system increases the value by $15,000 as compared to one with a smaller system or no panels.
According to the bill, Guam’s homes are already valued at a high price of $400,000, hurting homeowners wallets even further with the 17% increase made by solar panels.
Perez hopes to mitigate this by exempting additional real estate tax valuation due to the increase in the value of properties because of the installation of solar panels.
Bill 02-37 plans to implement the supplemental COLA adjustment act. As a reminder, COLA is an allowance paid to GovGuam retirees and war survivors yearly since October 2014. According to the bill, the allowances paid to retirees have remained stable for 8 years.
The Bill says this Act comes at a “critical time for GovGuam retirees.”
This bill intends to apply the $2,000 from Fiscal Year 2015’s COLA Act as a baseline value in estimating Guam’s consumer price index for future COLA adjustments.
Governor Leon Guerrero proposed the $2,000 amount stay the same for fiscal year 2023.
The legislation was signed off on several senators, both incumbent and freshman. These lawmakers include Telo Taitague, Therese Terlaje, Frank Blas Jr. Sabina Perez, Joanne Brown, Chris Malfunkshun Barnett, Thomas Fisher, and Dwayne San Nicolas.
Bill 3 and 4 were introduced by freshman Republican senator Jesse Lujan.
Bill 3 plans to bring down the Business Privilege Tax back to 4% for “any and all” business paying 5%. The bill finds that the BPT increased the costs of goods and services for the island’s consumers. This was not made better by the state of Guam’s economy through the pandemic and the rising inflation.
For Bill 4, Lujan wants to suspend all BPT on food and medicine for a year. According to Lujan, “this should immediately provide relief for consumers at grocery stores, mom-and-pop stores, or any place people purchase food.”
He says the bill will also reduce the cost of over-the-counter medicines.
Lujan also introduced a Resolution seeking a waiver of the Jones Act for 2 years. The Act requires any cargo shipped between U.S. ports to be carried by U.S. ships with American crews.
Senator Lujan says it makes no sense for Guam to be subjected to the Jones Act. “With so little competition,” Lujan says, “the cost of shipping from anywhere in the Mainland to Guam is brutal.”
“It’s far too expensive,” Lujan adds.
The 4 bills introduced await a Public Hearing.