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Last updateThu, 18 Jan 2018 12am







    Wednesday, January 17, 2018-10:11:48A.M.






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Hocog signs 4 bills, vetoes 1

(Office of the Governor) — On Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, acting Gov. Victor B. Hocog signed into law:

• House Bill 20-18, which changes the hours of operations for shooting galleries and shooting ranges. Authored by Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, the legislation enacts amendments to the existing provisions regarding shooting galleries and shooting ranges so that the hours of operations do not affect residential homes within close proximity to the shooting range in Kannat Tabla. The amendment changes the hours of operations for shooting ranges from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. This bill becomes Public Law 20-29.

Acting Gov. Victor Hocog poses with Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Velma Palacios at Grandvrio Resort Saipan during the recent reception hosted by the Japanese Consulate in honor of Emperor Akihito’s birthday.  Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

• House Bill 20-22, which clarifies the Occupancy Tax laws to ensure that bed and breakfast activities (e.g. Airbnb) are covered under the Occupancy Tax. Authored by Rep. Joseph Lee Pan T. Guerrero, the legislation makes amendments to include bed and breakfast facilities within the occupancy tax law and adds new definitions to ensure proper regulation. This bill becomes Public Law 20-30.

• House Bill 20-12, which reforms drug sentencing laws to effectuate the rehabilitation and treatment principles of evidence-based sentencing. Authored by Speaker Rafael S. Demapan, the legislation makes amendments to existing criminal laws so that non-violent individuals convicted of a drug-related offense can have the opportunity to undergo treatment and rehabilitation services through the CNMI Drug Court, the Governor’s Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program, and the Community Guidance Center. This bill becomes Public Law 20-31.

• House Local Bill 20-38, which appropriates $522,189.00 out of the $2 million specifically allocated to the First Senatorial District under Public Law 18-56.

The appropriation is as follows:

$472,189 to pay the following:

o $268,189 to cover the shortfall of 26 municipal employees’ salaries

o $204,000 to cover the salaries of the same 26 municipal employees up to April 2018

$50,000 to pay for the medical subsistence allowance for dialysis patients for April and May 2017.

This bill becomes Rota Local Law 20-7.

Also on Monday, the acting governor vetoed House Bill 20-67 which was introduced by House Floor Leader Glenn Maratita. The following is his veto message to the Legislature:

“This is to inform you that I have vetoed House Bill 20-67: To amend 1 CMC § 1402 for the purpose of the conservation and protection of the precious resource of sweet potato ‘Kamuti,’ and for other purposes.

“In this bill, the Legislature finds that 1 CMC Section 1402 (a) expressly lists areas within which a senatorial district may enact local laws, and that subsection (a) defined a local bill as a bill that ‘if enacted, becomes a law pertaining exclusively to matters within one senatorial district.’

“Additionally, the Legislature expresses that this list includes the conservation of ‘wildlife such as deer, fruit bats, or coconut crabs,’ but fails to mention one of the most popular resources of the island of Rota, the sweet potato ‘kamuti.’ Thus, the Legislature recommends, the sweet potato ‘kamuti’ should be added onto this list.

“Whereas I acknowledge that the Legislature’s authority to enact laws pertaining to matters exclusively within one territorial district, the particular intent of this legislation is unclear, therefore, I must veto the bill until its intent is clarified. This bill references the Legislature’s ability to make the necessary efforts to conserve wildlife, such as deer, fruit bats, and coconut crabs. In regards to the conservation of wildlife, such as deer, fruit bats and coconut crabs, the purpose of the protection of these threatened species is plain as these creatures are often hunted for consumption during on and off hunting seasons. The intent of the conservation of the sweet potato plant, however, despite being Rota’s most popular resource, is ambiguous.

“Accordingly, until the objective of this bill is made clear, I must respectfully exercise my constitutional authority to veto House Bill 20-67.