Speaker turns down emergency session request for Moylan’s bill

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Speaker Tina Muna Barnes (PNC file photo)

Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes has turned down a request from Senator James Moylan to convene an emergency session for Bill 424-35.

Under the proposed legislation introduced by Moylan — the Legislature has to approve any order, regulatory statutes, and regulations issued by the Governor during a state of public health emergency.

Moylan introduced the measure is in response to the Governor’s EO 2020-38, which proposes to bypass the Administrative Adjudication Act to create policies associated with establishing penalties, curfew statutes, and other mandates.

He also placed a request to waive the public hearing requirement — which was also turned down by the Speaker.

According to the Speaker, Moylan’s measure proposes to hamper Public Health’s approach to responding to a crisis – not make it better.

Muna-Barnes said she agreed with Moylan that the Legislative Branch serves as a “check and balance” for the Government. However, she said any policy overreach would have to be handled by the Judicial system.

“This being said, when it comes to the violation (or over-reach) of the law, or an individual’s rights – we have a third and co-equal branch of government, our Courts,” she added.

Dangerous precedent

“While I believe that we are in agreement that certain actions need to be considered to curtail the spread of this virus, the process being pursued opens up a dangerous precedent which in essence would end the sacred authority of the legislative branch when it comes to ‘checks and balances'” Moylan said.

According to Moylan, he introduced the measure to ensure that proposed policies receive the proper input and deliberation of the Guam Legislature.

He said that while Public Health mentioned that “a public hearing may be held on proposals that are still in a draft stage, the present law does not mandate it.”