Organic Act amendments could be placed on public referendum

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Guam – The Guam Supreme Court’s dismissal of Gov. Calvo’s Tax Revenue Anticipation Note TRAN legislation has empowered the legislature to limit executive impingements on its lawmaking authority. But it seems local senators themselves overwhelmingly prefer the governor’s authority over U.S. Congressional authority when it comes to the power of the purse.

While seven bills passed the Guam Legislature yesterday afternoon, three fiscal solvency resolutions attempting to amend the Organic Act failed. This tripartite loss, in turn, seals Adelup’s power to tax, spend, and juggle funds to meet public expenses on time, as any administration sees fit – without federal controls or oversight.

Resolution No. 310-34 (COR) seeking to federally require the governor to deposit a percentage of tax collections into the Guam Income Tax Refund Efficient Payment Trust Fund for the payment of income tax refunds via Congressional amendment to the Organic Act of Guam—FAILS.

Resolution No. 311-34 (COR) seeking to federally require any provision establishing a locally enacted tax or tax increase be ratified by a majority of votes cast in a general election via Congressional amendment to the Organic Act of Guam—FAILS.

Resolution No. 312-34 (COR) seeking to federally require any locally enacted provision increasing public debt by $25 million or more be approved by a majority of votes cast in an election, via Congressional amendment to the Organic Act of Guam—FAILS.

Sen. Mike San Nicolas is the author of those three failed Organic Act amendment resolutions. Following a heated exchange with Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje over the naming of a proposed federal amendment after the late Speaker Ben Pangelinan, San Nicolas broke quorum at a sparsely attended convening of this week’s session by walking out of legislative chambers, dramatically underscoring a consistent point San Nicolas has been making about what he sees as a need for overriding controls on administrative spending at the governor’s office. San Nicolas contends that only amendments to Guam’s Organic Act can constrain a governor’s authority to tax and spend. Nevertheless, few of his colleagues see deficit spending in quite the same light, shooting his Organic Act amendment plans down in flames, at two margins of 10 to 4 and one margin of 11 to 3.

Federal amendment supporter Sen. Tom Ada told Newstalk K57 radio personality Patti Arroyo this morning that San Nicolas aims to put his proposed Organic Act changes up for public referendum.

Winding down their third day of session, lawmakers approved the following legislation for the governor’s signature.

Bill No. 159-34 (COR) seeking to raise the minimum age of school attendance from 16 to 18—PASSES.

Bill No. 160-34 (COR) seeking to convert the 180 instructional days required each school year to 900 instructional hours for elementary and 1,260 hours for middle and high schools—PASSES.

Bill No. 169-34 (COR) seeking tax exemptions for 100% disabled veterans, surviving spouses, legal guardians, and Gold Star spouses and parents—PASSES.

Bill No. 227-34 (COR) seeking to provide breast cancer screening coverage in health insurance benefit plans sold on Guam and by Medicaid and the Medically Indigent Program (MIP)—PASSES.

Bill No. 268-34 (COR) seeking to ban single-use carryout bags provided to customers by retail establishments—PASSES.

Bill No. 215-34 (LS) seeking to create a Guam Ancestral Lands Commission Survey, Infrastructure, and Development Fund from the lease proceeds of Apra Harbor and Polaris Point—PASSES.

Bill No. 203-34 (LS) seeking to enact the Safe Streets Act of 2018 and establish a DWI Treatment Court —PASSES.