Guam – Session has been called for this Monday and five bills including the controversial minimum wage bill have been placed on the session agenda. yesterday the chamber of commerce held a meeting to discuss the problems they have with the minimum wage bill and today the GHRA sent a letter to Committee on Rules Chairman Senator Rory Respcio asking him to keep the bill in his committee until an economic impact study is done.
This morning the committee on rules set the session agenda for Monday. Among the six bills added to the agenda is the highly controversial Bill 316 a measure introduced by Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz to raise the minimum wage.
Senator Respicio also announced today that the committee report and all testimony on the bill was available online for the public to review. “The bill is gonna hopefully be reported out as it was introduced unfortunately though we have ten hours of testimony and over five hundred pages of committee report there were no suggestions on how to amend the bill they were just either no, no, or nothing,” said Vice-Speaker Cruz. The Senator says he’s looking forward to the discussion that will begin next week on the session floor and he hopes to give those earning minimum wage a raise. “I really think it’s about time that the workers in the industry that drive our economy have an ability to be able to participate and partake in the improved economy that everybody keeps talking about,” said Cruz.
Yesterday the Guam Chamber of Commerce held a meeting discussing why they are opposed to the bill and today Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association President Mary Rhodes sent a letter to Senator Respicio asking that he hold the bill in his committee until an independent economic impact study is completed on the bill. Rhodes says the GHRA hopes that senators will take a hard look at the potential impacts and she says they suggest that the island’s leaders should instead focus on improving the education and training of the island’s workforce so that employees who enter the workforce are able to get better paying jobs. Rhodes and the GHRA say this is the way to improve the quality of life on Guam. “The entry level workers really need to come into the market with an education, some skill sets or basic skills and some work experience and if you don’t have that then we can work with you on developing that and that’s what the minimum wage is really for. So if you want to work on a living wage or work with the quality of life of people then work with our Department of Labor, AHRD our Department of Education on ensuring that those who are currently unemployed or in poverty or part time and looking to get full time employment know what it’s gonna take to get them the skill sets they need so they can get gainfully employed and improve their quality of life,” said Rhodes.
Vice-Speaker Cruz on the other hand says these suggestions still don’t do anything to raise the wages of the private sector. “They cannot have no increase these people we’ve taken care of all the government employees we’ve increased their salaries we’ve increased the police 40 percent. People have gone from where the government of Guam now is making almost 15 thousand dollars a year more than the private sector annually on an average and we’ve got to assist these individuals who have no other means except for working two sometimes three jobs just to make ends meet,” said Cruz.
Some other bills on the session agenda include Senator Tom Ada’s Bill 355 which would allow GovGuam to acquire property in Malesso through eminent domain for use in the construction and repairs of the Pigua bridge, Bill 319 or the “Computer Spyware Protection Act, and bill 318 the “Computer Protection Act”.
Other bills added to the agenda include bill 249 which appropriates $375 thousand dollars to DPW for the paving and repair of village streets and bill 317 which deals with the crime of phishing. Session begins on Monday at 9am.