Senators pass minimum wage bill

Lawmakers late Friday afternoon passed Bill 136-35, which seeks to raise Guam’s minimum wage.

As expected, lawmakers late Friday afternoon passed Bill 136-35, which seeks to raise Guam’s minimum wage to $9.25 by March 2021.

Sen. Joe S. San Agustin, the bill’s author, said: “I wish to offer my appreciation to my colleagues who believed in giving our people who make minimum wage the opportunity to bridge the gap in feeding and caring for their families. Many hours of work and discussion on the bill allowed us to evaluate the pros and cons and at the end of the day, our goal in ensuring our people are taken care of is accomplished.”

The bill will be transmitted to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero who has 10 days to act on the legislation. If enacted, Guam’s minimum wage will increase by 50 cents in March 2020 and another 50 cents in March 2021.

Also passed was Resolution No. 164-35 (COR), which urges the governor to call for a pause on military construction activities at Northwest Field, or Taila’lo.

Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, the author of the resolution, issued the following statement on the passing of her resolution: “Since the start, this discussion has always been about our people. The ancient CHamoru who came before us and were caretakers of this island and, we, the present-day people of Guam who’ve inherited the land and continue to be its protectors.”

The Vice Speaker added: “With the passing of this resolution, we, as a body, are making good on the work of our ancestors, who nurtured the island we all know and love today, and hope to pass onto future generations of Guam. This is a powerful message we pray future island leaders will heed, because there is no replacing centuries of history and culture, and the natural habitats that have flourished for thousands of years – once they’re destroyed.”

Also passed was Senator Regine Biscoe-Lee’s Bill No. 128-35 (LS), which will extend the life and modernize the Guam Registered Apprenticeship Program.

The GRAP incentivizes businesses to train apprentices by offering them tax credits for up to 50% of the costs incurred in apprentice training. Lee’s bill establishes a 2.5% administrative fee, with proceeds going to the Guam Department of Labor to ensure efficiency in apprenticeship activities.

“Since its inception, this public-private partnership has resulted in many workers gaining valuable skills, and earning more money for their families,” said Lee. “We have an opportunity to expand a homegrown skilled workforce, help more people find good careers, and help more companies invest in employees who show promise.”

Also passed were the following measures now awaiting the Governor’s signature:

* Bill No. 155-35 (COR) which will allow educators, including teachers, school aides, administrators, and other staff, to receive Youth Mental Health First Aid training, where they will be taught to recognize the early signs of substance abuse or mental health illnesses in adolescents aged 12-18;

* Bill No. 76-35 (COR), which transfers land from the CHamoru Land Trust Commission to the University of Guam to correct property boundaries;

* Bill No. 81-35 (COR), which mandates the purchase of energy-efficient products by GovGuam;

* Bill No. 93-35 (COR), which rezones land for the purpose of establishing a kidney dialysis clinic;

* Bill No. 149-35 (COR), which reprograms funds to go towards critical repairs needed for the infrastructure of the Port’s piers; and

* Resolution No. 94-35 (COR), which seeks compensation for cancer and other illnesses and expresses the Legislature’s support for the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019.