Resolutions introduced to improve Legislature timelines

Senator James Moylan (PNC file photo)

Senator James C. Moylan has introduced Rules Resolutions 218-35, 219-35 and 220-35, with the intent of amending language in the Legislature’s Standing Rules to address timelines for committee reports, public hearings and the referral of bills.

Moylan told Andrea Pellacani on NewsTalk K57 that the resolutions seek to improve how bills are processed, especially with regard to timelines.

The Standing Rules represent the procedures that govern the actions of the Guam Legislature.

According to Moylan, the objectives of the resolutions introduced, if adopted, would accomplish the following:

* RESOLUTION 218-35: Resolution 218-35 would establish a timeline of 15 working days from a public hearing for a Standing Committee to complete and submit a committee report on legislation that was heard. It would further require the Committee on Rules, in conjunction with the Legislative Clerks office, to upload the report within three days from submittal on the Legislature’s website. A bill can only be advanced to the session agenda once a committee report is complete, and hence with the present rules, bills can experience a slow demise in a committee.

* RESOLUTION 219-35: Resolution 219-35 would require a timeline of 90 days from the introduction of a bill for a Standing Committee to schedule a public hearing. Presently, the rules require 180 days. The resolution further authorizes the bill’s sponsor to schedule a public hearing if the standing committee fails to schedule one in the required timeline. Considering that a two-year term is relatively short, bills can remain stagnant in committees for too long of a period, which defy the opportunity for public opinion. Unless overruled, all bills require a public hearing prior for consideration to be placed on a session agenda.

* RESOLUTION 220-35: Resolution 220-35 would establish a timeline of 10 days for the Committee of Rules to refer a bill to a Standing Committee, as presently there are no timelines in place. While it is a standard policy for legislation to secure a fiscal note from the Office of Finance and Budget or attain a legal review, these additions should not deny the opportunity for legislation to be advanced so that a Standing Committee can schedule a public hearing.

Moylan said every bill introduced involves the concerns of stakeholders, discussions, research, time, costs, meetings with stakeholders and constituents, and much more.

When the legislation is not afforded an efficient means of channeling through the legislative process, or is denied a public hearing, the ones being adversely impacted are not just the primary sponsors of the bill, but the stakeholders and constituents who have shared their concerns, Moylan said.

The senator also emphasized that while it is a standard policy for lawmaking bodies to institute the distinction between those in the majority versus those in the minority, when it comes to how measures are advanced in a legislature, the reality that he would like to stress is that “the people of Guam vote based on bi-partisan leadership and not party politics.”