Terlaje bill seeks ‘rapid and transparent’ implementation of coronavirus aid

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Senator Therese Terlaje (PNC file photo)

Guam Senator Therese Terlaje has introduced a measure that seeks the “rapid and transparent” implementation of the $2-trillion federal coronavirus relief measure known as the CARES Act which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27.

In a news release, Sen. Terlaje states that her bill is meant to “unite efforts by Guam’s Congressman, Legislature, Governor, and Judiciary so that aid is distributed without delay while ensuring transparency and accountability.”

According to her proposal, within 5 days after the enactment of  Bill 333-25,  the Governor would be required to “sign all necessary (agreements)” and “establish all necessary programs” to carry out the relief provisions in the CARES Act.

Every Guam director and agency head who receives federal assistance under the CARES Act would also be required to “submit a copy of any agreement signed” on behalf of their agency or the government of Guam “within 12 hours of signing” and  “submit a copy of the fully executed agreement within 12 hours of receipt.”

In addition, Bill 333 states that any funds that may be subject to legislative authorization “shall not” be expended without “the express consent” of the Legislature and those funds “are not subject to transfer.”

The measures authorizes the governor to hire temporary employees “to implement and expedite” the programs.

Bill 333 also requires a strict accounting of the source and allocation of all aid funds. A monthly report must be submitted to the Legislature and a “semi-annual” audit must be conducted of all expenditures on Guam associated with the CARES Act.

Senators Sabina Perez and James Moylan are co-sponsors of the bill.

READ the release from Sen. Terlaje in FULL below:

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE: Senator Therese Terlaje pushes for rapid and transparent implementation of COVID-19 assistance

Senator Therese Terlaje pushes for rapid and transparent implementation of COVID-19 assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (April 5, 2020- Hagåtña, Guam) On Friday, Senator Therese Terlaje, Chair for the Committee on Health, Tourism, Historic Preservation, Land and Justice, introduced Bill 333-35, An Act Relative to the Rapid and Transparent Implementation of Federal and Local Assistance Programs Related to COVID-19. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Sabina Perez and Senator James Moylan.

Congress and the President have passed unprecedented relief packages for individuals and businesses who have been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and authorized large sums to assist the government of Guam in its fight to save lives during this pandemic despite devastating economic effects.

This bill will unite efforts by Guam’s Congressman, Legislature, Governor, and Judiciary so that aid is distributed without delay while ensuring transparency and accountability.

Bill 333-35 proposes the following:

*Authorizes the Governor to hire temporary employees to implement and expedite the federal and local programs, including the processing and issuance of tax refunds.

*Establishes a time frame for the Government of Guam to finalize any necessary MOUs or MOAs with federal partners

*Directs the Department of Rev and Tax to establish procedures to implement the federal cash assistance program subject and restrict garnishment to child support

*Directs the Guam Department of Labor to create rules to implement the unemployment assistance program authorized in the CARES act Protects legislative authority to appropriate funds as needed

*Requires a monthly accounting for the expenditure of COVID-19 funds

*Mandates a semi-annual audit from the Office of Public Accountability

“We have asked the people of Guam to self-quarantine, stay home and help stop the spread of COVID-19. The government must do its part to provide immediate assistance to our residents with continued access to food, medicine, and healthcare.”

“We also need to provide protection for those who cannot generate income to pay their bills. While the local implementation of the CARES Act is somewhat dictated by federal timelines, the Legislature must push for accountability and more rapid response from our government agencies,” said Senator Therese Terlaje.