Senator asks for update on $800 cash relief law

Senator James Moylan (PNC file photo)

Senator James Moylan has asked Adelup to provide an update on Public Law 35-136, which provides for the distribution of $800 cash relief checks to qualified residents.

On December 29, 2020, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero allowed Substitute Bill 340-35 lapse into Public Law 35-136, hence enacting the “Recovery Income Support and Empowerment Act of 2020” (RISE ACT OF 2020).

The measure’s primary objective was to provide $800 in financial support for qualified
residents of Guam.

While the legislation provided alternatives as the funding source, Moylan said it was
evident during the discussions on the bill that federal funds would be the only available option on the table.

“In less than a week it will be two months since the enactment of PL 35-136, thus our office would like to follow up on the present status of the plan. We have been receiving inquiries from constituents on when they can anticipate their RISE ACT checks, and I believe as a means of transparency, there needs to be some updates on the program. With thousands of island residents still waiting to get back to work, and with the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expiring shortly, this $800 could help many families purchase groceries or pay bills,” Moylan said in a letter to the governor.

While Moylan said he recognizes the governor’s letter back in December indicating that the government is facing financial constraints, the senator pointed out that instead of vetoing Bill 340-35, the governor allowed it to lapse into law.

“Thus, the intent of implementing the program was certainly expressed, even if it would be at some point in the future. Whatever the plans are with the RISE ACT, I believe the constituency deserves some answers as well as forthrightness, even if the program’s fate is that of an unfunded mandate,” Moylan said.

He added: “I also understand that provisions in PL 35-136 clearly state that the Department of Revenue and Taxation would have 30 working days from when you identify funds to implement the program. What also concerns me is that RISE ACT also stipulates that no checks shall be issued after December 31, 2021. May we ask what are the timelines for these funds to be identified? What efforts or plans are being considered? Without one, December 31, 2021 may come and go, thus the objectives of this measure will not be fulfilled.”

As a senator who voted for the passage of the RISE ACT and also one who co-sponsored the amendment to increase the benefit payout, Moylan is hopeful that some responses to his inquiry can be provided so that an update can be shared with his constituency.

“Likewise, what is even more critical is assuring that qualified residents attain the added support to address the pressing needs for their families,” Moylan concluded.