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    Monday, December 18, 2017-11:32:16P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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House panel OKs $931K for cancer, medical referral programs

THE House Committee on Ways and Means adopted two funding measures on Monday, including an appropriation of $931,000 to support the cancer awareness and medical referral programs.

All 13 members of the committee, which is headed by Rep. Angel Demapan, endorsed the passage of House Bill 20-29 with amendments and House Bill 20-123 without amendments.

Introduced by Demapan, H.B. 20-129 will appropriate $500,000 from the cancer fund special account to support and expand cancer awareness, detection and prevention programs.

H.B. 20-123, which was introduced by Rep. John Paul Sablan, proposes to limit the excise tax exemptions for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages bought by individuals arriving at the airport and seaport.

The committee adopted Sablan’s bill without amendments and in its current form while Demapan’s bill was amended to add new sections (c), (d), and (e).

Rep. Angel Demapan presides over  a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

It was Demapan who offered the amendments which will increase the appropriation from $500,000 to $931,340.

He said there is an excess of $431,000 from the cancer fund which will be appropriated accordingly for other purposes.

Section (c) appropriates $281,340 for the medical referral program; section (d) appropriates $100,000 for Tinian and Rota inter-island medical referrals; while section (e) appropriates $50,000 for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. betel nut prevention program.

Section (a) appropriates $150,000 for the operations of the Division of Public Health Services’ Dental Clinic Program while section (b) appropriates $350,000 for the Commonwealth Cancer Association to support its patient support services. “Provided that, of the funds appropriated under this section…$50,000…shall be allocated for services in the First Senatorial District and…$50,000… shall be allocated for services in the Second Senatorial District.”

The committee also discussed H.B. 20-55, introduced by Rep. Leepan Guerrero, which will allow for a higher fee structure on the part of the Department of Commerce; H.B. 20-100, introduced by Speaker Ralph Demapan, will reserve 5 percent of the casino Business Gross Revenue Tax payments to a special reserve account for the commonwealth’s future needs; Senate Bill 20-58, introduced by Sen. Sixto Igisomar, will remove the payment requirement by CHCC to the commonwealth government; and S.B. 20-27, introduced by Senate President Arnold Palacios, “to improve the developer infrastructure tax program.”

These bills were tabled for further discussion as the committee still needs to solicit comments from the involved agencies and departments.