‘Separation of Powers’ bill narrowly squeaks by legislature; 7 other bills pass

The 36th Guam Legislature in session Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (PNC [photo)

The ‘Restoration of Separation of Powers Act’ barely passed the legislature during voting Monday afternoon.

Bill 11-36, the heavily debated bill during the February session, was passed on a narrow vote of 8 to 7.

Before landing on the session floor, the bill was heavily debated outside and inside the legislature.

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Senator Chris Duenas introduced Bill 11-36 and the measure prevents the governor from extending a public health emergency without permission from the Legislature.

Duenas says the legislative authorization requirement is not unique since states such as Michigan and Hawaii have adopted legislation that requires legislative approval for any emergency declaration extension made by the governor.

He also says the economy has been brought down to its knees because of the pandemic, which requires the government to balance its priorities — that of the community’s safety and the island’s economic needs.

Meanwhile, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said that if passed into law, the bill will create an unnecessary hindrance that will deny future governors the ability to act with the speed and decisiveness necessary for a long-lasting but dynamic public emergencies like the pandemic.

Line agency frontliners are behind the governor, submitting joint written testimony warning that the measure threatens GovGuam’s COVID-19 response by undermining these agencies’ ability to respond quickly and efficiently to the crisis.

Aside from Bill 11, lawmakers also passed 7 other bills, including Bill 1-36, the legislation that proposes to temporarily waive the payment of business license fees from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2022, and to retroactively allow credit for fees that have already been paid.

Also passed was Bill 13, which adds Guam to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), making it easier for nurses in other NLC states to practice on Guam.