Moylan introduces legislature reform bill

Senator James Moylan (file photo)
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Senator James C. Moylan has introduced Bill 265-35, which, if passed, would enact The Citizens Legislative Reform Act of 2020.

In essence, Moylan said this legislation would reform the Guam Legislature to a part-time legislature.

With the theme of “Public Service and not Public Employment,” Senator Moylan emphasized that the legislation would not only provide a savings element by reducing the budget of the legislature, it would also remove many “ceremonial” aspects of the position, so that lawmakers can focus more on policy versus optics.

“40 states have some structure of a Part-Time Legislature, and many of those states have millions in a population and billions in their annual budgets. This legislative structure has proven to work and to be effective,” said Senator Moylan.

“For those naysayers who believe that a Part-Time Legislature would take away the public’s accessibility to talk to a Senator, or would reduce the checks and balance that the legislative branch has over the executive branch, remember that it is the senator, and not the structure of the legislature, that determines how accessible one wants to be, or how much they want to keep the Executive branch in check,” Moylan added.

According to the senator, his Bill 265-35 would not only reduce the budget of the legislature, but also convert Senators from earning full-time salaries and benefits to stipends. It would require two 30-day sessions in a year, with one focused on general issues and executive appointments, and the second focused on the budget.
Additionally, Moylan said nothing prevents the governor from calling senators into session for emergency issues. The legislation also provides senators the security from their employers when they are in session, similar to reservists being deployed or citizens being called into jury duty.

“The legislation further creates the Legislative Research and Services Bureau, which would be the brain trust and functioning entity of the Guam Legislature, comprised of classified employees. Just like the Library of Congress, this bureau would provide services such as research and bill drafting for all Senators. This entity would be free from political interference, hence be able to effectively do their job. Lawmakers would still be able to hire unclassified legislative and committee staff, who would carry out the daily activities of senators, but because of the reduction in the budget of the legislature, this number would also be greatly reduced,” Moylan said.

“By reducing the perks or the glorifying of the title, the community attains more public servants and fewer politicians. By shifting the compensation from a salary to a stipend, the risks of ‘not’ needing to get re-elected are reduced, which allows senators to focus more on policy versus ceremony. A Citizens Legislature would result in a greater focus on priorities, quality versus quantity, and less on ceremonial activities such as presenting resolutions, officiating wedding ceremonies, or cutting ribbons,” the senator added.