Senator Therese Terlaje obtains the gavel once again – with aid from the other side of the aisle – and will now be Speaker of the new 37th Guam Legislature
The Legislative stand still is over and Speaker Therese Terlaje has returned to her seat as Speaker of the Legislature. This follows Monday’s failed attempt to elect a Speaker, which ensued in some confusion within the Democratic Caucus.
Senator Joe San Agustin received 6 votes again from the same lawmakers who attempted to vote him in on Monday.
However, this time, it wasn’t Blas competing with San Agustin — it was Terlaje.
When it came time for lawmakers to cast their vote for Terlaje, all 6 Republican lawmakers raised their hands for the former speaker.
The 6 Republicans’ votes, along with Terlaje herself, Sabina Perez, and Chris Malafunkshun Barnett, brought Speaker Terlaje to 9 votes, surpassing San Agustin, and winning the seat.
After the session was adjourned for the day, Blas Jr. shared some insight behind the negotiations that swung all 6 Republicans to Terlaje.
Senator Frank Blas Jr. says, “We were able to negotiate some of the language that’s contained in the Standing Rules so that the Republican Caucus…” he continued, “… can have a better voice.”
Blas previously expressed that their vote wouldn’t come without incentive.
This includes more Republican representation in the Committee of Rules, being able to choose membership in the several committees, and Republican members becoming Vice Chair for all the Committees.
This, according to former senator Tony Lamorena, means that Republicans have a better chance for their legislation to be heard in session.
Republican senator Jesse Lujan says their goal was better collaboration and fairness within the Legislature, “Well, we wanted to make sure that there’s going to be parity and that our issues and bills will be heard and that we have equal voice in the Legislature. That’s what the people of Guam had voted for.”
As the returning Speaker left the Congress Hall – Terlaje told reporters that the most important point in negotiations was ensuring that the Legislature ultimately moves forward in operating as an “independent, co-equal branch of government.”
This didn’t come without some disagreement from other Democrat colleagues despite many caucuses. However, Terlaje says those disagreements were resolved amicably and looks forward for the term.
Speaker Terlaje says, “I’m really looking forward to moving forward and restoring confidence to the people of Guam that the Legislature is back in business. We are working. We are working very hard for them. We’re not going to go backward, we’re going forward.”
Lawmakers also re-elected Tina Muna Barnes as Vice Speaker and Amanda Shelton as Legislative secretary.
Additionally, all Committee Chairs are composed of Democrats with Republican lawmakers as their Vice Chairs.