Speaker says there was an error in war claims bill already signed into law

Senator Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

Speaker Therese Terlaje said there was an error in the engrossment of war claims Bill 130-36 which was already signed into law by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero as P.L. 36-59.

“There was an error in the engrossment of Bill 130-36. Specifically, language was included in the engrossed bill that should not have been included. Unfortunately, no senator or staff caught the error in the engrossed bill prior to voting. The bill containing the error was passed by 13 ayes and 2 absent votes and signed into law by the Governor as P.L. 36-59,” Terlaje said.

The Speaker said she is now working with the Committee on Rules and the Central Staff to further ensure the legislative process catches these errors before voting.

“Any further action as to P.L. 36-59 will have to be by consensus of the Legislature during session,” Terlaje said.

The error stems from an amendment that Terlaje proffered to expand those eligible for this local war claims program beyond the federal limitations by adding the words “regardless of the time of death,” The amendment was ruled materially different and thus out of order by the Chairman on Appropriations, Senator Joe San Agustin.

“I made a motion to overrule the Chair, which failed, with only myself, Senator Sabina Perez, Senator Telo Taitague, and Senator Jose ‘Pedo’ Terlaje voting in favor of the motion. No vote was taken on the floor amendment,” Terlaje said.

Despite the error in the Legislature’s handling of the bill, the Speaker said she will continue to support war claims for those who suffered but died prior to the December 23, 2016, federal cutoff date.