‘Speaker may serve in two roles’

Vice Speaker Tina Barnes

The Legislature’s legal counsel has issued an opinion stating that Speaker Tina Muna Barnes may serve in two roles concurrently.

The legal counsel was opining on the question of whether the Speaker can serve as Speaker and vote in the Legislature while serving as acting lieutenant governor at the same time.

The legislature’s legal counsel opined that the Speaker doesn’t have to vacate her position as Speaker to assume the position of acting lieutenant governor and that this is provided for in the Organic Act.

Sen. James Moylan has sent a letter to the office of the Attorney General to seek a more detailed clarification on the question.

Moylan said the opinion from the legislature’s legal counsel, which was requested by Speaker Barnes in July when her office had a similar inquiry on the issue of the separation of the two branches of the government, was general in nature, and they offered to conduct additional research.

“Plus our letter to AG Leevin Camacho also further requests clarification on the term “temporary absence” of when the governor leaves the island. All we seek is a clarification on the issue. We understand that this is not a pressing matter, and accept that a response may take some time to materialize. However it is still an important question to ask in understanding a number of issues moving forward,” Moylan said.

He added that the issues include whether or not Congress intended on a separation of powers between the two branches of government when they passed the Organic Act, and if governors can maintain their official title when they are off-island.

In the meantime, Moylan said he will continue to focus on addressing critical issues within the community.