Legislature develops open agenda for session

by Ken Wetmore, KUAM News
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

At the call of the Speaker, the Legislature went into session this morning. The Rules Committee failed to pass an agenda for this session, so the first item of business for the body was to vote on an agenda. The lack of an agenda gave the Republican minority a chance to try to push some of their bills onto the agenda.

What didn't make it on this session's agenda is every bit as interesting as what did. Speaker Ben Pangelinan, outlining the main items, said, "We have the Primary Election law that would resolve the issue of free right of association by political parties with no crossovers supported, by the both Republican and Democratic parties. Of course we also have the bill 292, Senator Leon Guerrero's bill to provide an additional about $980,000 to the Guam Memorial Hospital exclusively for pharmaceutical supplies and vendor payments for pharmaceuticals and medicine; we also have the bill for the Paseo Stadium lease between the Government of Guam and Guam Baseball Federation."

While Republicans had hoped the open agenda would allow them to get some of their bills into session, Minority Leader Senator Mark Forbes expressed frustration following the vote on the final agenda. "We did try and get a few bills on the session agenda and we were pretty much only successful in two cases," he told KUAM News.

Those two cases were a bill by Senator Forbes to help the water situation in Santa Rita and a measure by Senator Bob Klitzkie to apply open government laws to elected boards such as the Guam Education Policy Board and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities. Currently open government laws only apply to appointed boards and commissions.

Republicans failed to get a resolution to name one of Guam's public schools after the late GOP president Ronald Reagan. Republicans seemed particularly disappointed that Senator Klitzkie's Bill 162 wasn't allowed on the agenda by democrats. Klitzkie himself said, "Senator Fernandez' Committee on Education and Housing has jurisdiction over the bill and I have a committee report that has Senator Fernandez' signature with a due pass recommendation, along with the signatures of four other members of the Legislature, so five of the seven members of the Committee have given it a due pass, but it has not been reported out of Senator Fernandez's committee to the Rules Committee."

In fact, Senator Fernandez was the lawmaker who rose to object to the legislation that has been called the "Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Public Education Bill" being placed on the agenda this morning. "The lawmaking process is evolutionary process and I consider every bill a living bill all the way until it gets passed and so what has happened is after those committee members did sign onto the bill we did come back to the table and other issues were brought up and the Committee directed me that we ask for these legal opinions so that we could request for these legal opinions, so we can address these concerns. And so the committee as a whole would like to have these legal opinions before we continue discussion," she said.

While Bill 162 won't be up for discussion at least during this session, senators spent most of the day working on Bill 286, which would approve the lease of Paseo Stadium to the GBF. Session is expected to last through Friday.

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