Senators seek clarification on legislation that would increase governor’s COVID-19 emergency powers

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Before breaking for lunch today, senators moved two bills to the voting file, both related to public school students on Guam.

Senators were back at their emergency session on Monday debating bills related to COVID-19 and its various effects on the island.

Before breaking for lunch, senators moved two bills to the voting file, both related to public school students on Guam.

One would exempt students from the mandatory 75 hours of community service in order to graduate high school and the other is related to waiving the mandatory 900 instructional hours for the current school year.

Right off the top, though, senators voted to move the bills that give Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero added authority to the end of the discussion, since they needed some legal clarification on them.

If senators vote to pass these measures, the governor would be able to impose islandwide curfews and fine residents who are defying her stay-at-home orders.

At her afternoon news conference, the governor said she’s disappointed lawmakers put off the bills.

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“While I respect the legislature’s statutory prerogative, the power to enforce executive orders during a life and death public health emergency isn’t extraordinary. These are powers already granted to governors across the nation,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added: “I know that Guam loves freedom, just as much as each of these places. I know that our sons and daughters have paid the price for that freedom equal to, or greater than any other place in this nation. So why should Guam be the only place without the tools to keep us safe in a public health emergency?”

Senators also began debate this morning on a bill that would require the governor’s office, among other transparency measures, to report to the legislature on how federal pandemic programs are being implemented.

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