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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

CNMI Lawmakers Pre-File Bills For 18th Legislature
Proposed bills range widely in content and intention

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 18, 2013) – Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) pre-filed a bill presenting a question to voters whether to convene another constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Constitution, as well as a legislative initiative changing the 25 percent blood quantum requirement to only "at least some degree" of Chamorro or Carolinian blood or a combination of these, in order to be considered a person of Northern Marianas descent and therefore can own land in the CNMI.

Ogumoro's House Bill 18-5 on the conventional convention and House Legislative Initiative 18-1 on Article 12 are among the 15 bills, local bills, resolutions, joint resolutions and initiative pre-filed since at least a day after Monday's inaugural session of the 18th Legislature. Article 12 is the land alienation provision of the CNMI Constitution.

These are in addition to the rules of procedures resolution that the House adopted during the day of the inauguration. That same day, Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan) and other leadership members pre-filed a resolution impeaching Gov. Benigno R. Fitial for 18 allegations of corruption, felony and neglect of duty.

Ogumoro also pre-filed House Joint Resolution 18-1, requesting the U.S. Congress to return to the people of Northern Marianas descent the waters and submerged lands surrounding the CNMI from the mean low tide mark to 200 miles.

"The waters and submerged lands rightfully belong to persons of Northern Marianas descent. Therefore, we must fight hard for the return of the 200 miles of submerged lands and waters and nothing less," Ogumoro said in her speech during the inauguration.

The former vice speaker also pre-filed HB 18-6, establishing a Northern Marianas Descent Institute, a non-profit public corporation for persons of Northern Marianas descent that will establish a protocol and job training program.

The other pre-filed measures include:

  • Rep. Ray Tebuteb's (IR-Saipan) HB 18-1, ratifying the adoption of the 2009 editions of the International Building Code, International Fire Code, related construction codes as amended, and provide for a task force to develop a new CNMI building code council;
  • House Minority Leader George Camacho's HB 18-2, raising the CNMI's hotel occupancy tax from 10 percent to 15 percent;
  • Rep. Edmund Villagomez's (Cov-Saipan) HB 18-3, strengthening provisions regarding sex crimes and domestic violence, after the same bill was vetoed by the governor during the previous Legislature;
  • Tebuteb's HB 18-4, reallocating funding from the Managaha landing and user fee trust account;
  • Rep. Janet Maratita's (IR-Saipan) HB 18-7, requiring 100 percent of the items in snack and beverage vending machines in government facilities to meet certain nutritional guidelines;
  • Maratita's HB 18-8, re-appropriating up to $286,786 of the remaining $140 million bond within the Commonwealth Development Authority to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.;
  • Rep. Trenton Conner's (R-Tinian) House Local Bill 18-1, appropriating $40,000 in poker machine license fees on Tinian for Tinian patients and other programs.
  • Conner's 18-2, re-appropriating $36,948 from previous laws to go towards the Tinian Municipal Scholarship program;
  • Rep. Teresita Santos's (Ind-Rota) HLB 18-3, appropriating $45,000 in poker machine license fees on Rota for Rota patients; and
  • Rep. Antonio Agulto's (IR-Saipan) HLB 18-4, re-appropriating fund balance of $200,344 from a Saipan local law for various projects in Precinct 5.

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