Senators hold session; pass two bills

Speaker Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

Lawmakers passed two bills during session Monday, including Bill 130-35 which seeks to appropriate $150,000 from the Healthy Futures Fund for the Guam Autism Center.

According to Senator Therese Terlaje, the Autism Center needs the funding to continue its operations until the remainder of the year.

Despite the funding shortfall, Terlaje said the center is doing its best to respond to the needs of its clients and their families.

In fact, she said the center continues to reach out to families, conduct parent trainings, and even explore telehealth options for its clients.

During session, Terlaje also outlined the reasons why the lawmakers should vote favorably on the bill.

“I want to reemphasize the importance of passing this legislation. Dr. Vince Duenas who really has spearheaded this program … he and his wife and the Hunter Speaks Organization … Dr. Duenas has testified that they have already identified approximately 260 children, at that time that he testified, with autism on Guam. But almost everyone else who has testified regarding how many children there are with autism on Guam, they all seemed to be in agreement that the estimated 260 is very low and that there are just children who are not being diagnosed or receiving services at this time,” the senator said.

She added: “But the real benefit of this program to our community, Madame Speaker, is the ability to diagnose early or to hopefully receive treatment earlier. And the earlier they can provide this therapy — it’s a behavioral therapy — the earlier or the more successful they believe that these children are going to be.”

Aside from Bill 130-35, lawmakers also passed Bill 42-35, which transfers ownership of government property to the Guam Regional Transit Authority so that the agency can use it to construct a new fleet maintenance facility.

Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje said the measure needs to be passed as soon as possible to avoid the loss of over $1.2 million worth of federal funds granted to the authority. After voting on the two bills, the senators moved to recess session until tomorrow at 2 p.m.