Senator still concerned about Bill 135 despite passage of legislation

Senator Telo Taitague (PNC file photo)

Senator Telo T. Taitague, the minority whip of the 35th Guam Legislature, is still concerned about Bill 135, the foster home legislation introduced by fellow Republican senator Mary Camacho Torres, although the bill was already passed by the Legislature Thursday.

In a release sent to media, Taitague said that despite acknowledging that the same rules and regulations for family foster homes were already approved since 1997 through Public Law 23-143, a majority of senators still voted in favor of Bill 135 which, for the most part, duplicates these same rules, and which, Taitague claims, was drafted incorrectly.

Bill 135 would allow a licensed foster family to take in more children than the current limit of six, provided it is approved by Guam’s Bureau of Social Services Administration. An amendment proffered by Sen. Torres and passed by the Legislature further permits a family to take in more children under the age of two, at the discretion of the bureau.

Sen. Torres cited Child Protective Services data which showed that there are currently 276 kids in foster placement.

She said providing new discretionary authority to the bureau will open up more homes, keep foster siblings together, and enable a foster family to provide invaluable care and shelter for another child in need.

But Sen. Taitague said she didn’t vote for Bill 135 because it failed to amend existing rules and regulations the Compiler of Laws finally published last week.

“The legislature had more than sufficient time to rewrite the measure to avoid potential technical issues. In the event the governor vetoes Bill 135, I’ll move forward with Bill 194 which I introduced last week to specifically allow more than six children in a foster family home. I shared my concerns with some of our foster families and appreciate their understanding that my decision to oppose Bill 135 is based on ethics and principle,” Taitague said.

Earlier, Sen. Torres released a statement saying that recent statements regarding Bill 135 were “inaccurate.”

“I realize some individuals give misinformation to advance their political agenda, but I won’t ask foster kids to suffer for their pettiness. I introduced Bill 135 at the request of foster families because kids are being kept out of homes they need due to rigid government regulations. How much longer should these children wait?” Sen. Torres said.

She added that Bill 135 already acknowledges the passage of foster home standards in Public Law 23-143.