Marianas Variety

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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-11:46:00A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Editorials 2019-November-22

Make a wish

OF course someone in the Legislature will introduce a bill to “Prohibit the Use of Certain Disposable Food Service Containers,” specifically “Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Styrofoam,” a “petroleum-based non-biodegradable foam….”

There are so many other things that are undeniably bad to our health and welfare and the environment, but sensible politicians usually know which battles to pick. In the case of EPS/Styrofoam food or beverage containers, (mostly “progressive”) cities and towns across the U.S. are completely or partially banning them so why can’t the NMI do the same.

House Bill 21-89, if signed into law, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. The bill’s key provision states that starting on that date, “a food establishment may not process, prepare, sell or provide food or beverages in or on a disposable food service container that is composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam.” A violation will be subject to a fine of not more than $100. BECQ and DEQ “may promulgate rules and regulations to implement…this Act.”

Well and good. Now we come to the bill’s other important provision — the exemptions:

  • • EPS/Styrofoam food or beverage containers will be allowed in “an emergency for the immediate preservation of…public health or safety….” (Think of typhoons and the resulting relief and recovery efforts.)
  • • And retail food or beverages that a food establishment purchases prepackaged or wholesale.

This bill will be referred to a committee which surely must conduct public hearings and solicit comments from community members, including businesses, consumers, charitable organizations and groups that raise funds by selling “hot lunches.”

In other words, we expect the bill to include more exemptions before lawmakers act on it — if they would act on it.

Passing legislation, more often than not, is just like adopting a resolution that expresses a noble intent or a fervent wish, but is ultimately non-binding. Even government budgets and spending measures depend on actual collections and existence of funding sources.

Enforcement is another and more crucial matter, and the lack of it is probably a good thing, considering the large number of ill advised but “popular” measures that lawmakers will always introduce and pass.

We have a dream

ROLLING blackouts are never popular, but identifying and appropriating the funds that CUC need to fix and/or properly maintain its power engines is not that easy, especially when the economy has slowed down, and the government is not collecting enough revenue for its many obligations.

Which is probably why some lawmakers would rather talk about something else.

Some may say that the austerity measure should remain in effect so that additional funding could be provided to CUC. The administration disagrees. It prefers to restore the government employees’ 80-hour work period just before the holiday season. Politics!

Well, then, where is the legislative measure that would require the continuation of the austerity measure? It’s not going to be a popular bill, but it is for the “good of all.” Let the administration pander to the single largest voting bloc in the CNMI, and wallow in “the politics of the status quo.” The principled members of the Legislature would rather be right than popular. Surely they will walk the talk and take the lead in proposing sweeping cost-cutting measures and even tax and fee hikes so that the government can pay CUC, provide more funding to PSS and CHCC and NMC and medical referrals and scholarships and homestead infrastructure and land compensation — and end wasteful spending.

While hell freezes over.