Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 19 Jun 2018 12am

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    Monday, June 18, 2018-9:52:25P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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House panel approves land-lease-extension bill

THE House Committee on Natural Resources finally broke the deadlock on the land-lease-extension measure by voting 4-3 to endorse it.

Authored by Senate President Arnold Palacios, Senate Bill 20-35 will now be sent to the full House of Representatives which is expected to discuss it in a session to be held on Tuesday in Tinian.

The committee, which previously voted 3-3 on the bill, met Friday afternoon to again discuss the measure. Another vote was taken, and the result was 4 in favor and three against.

Voting yes were committee chairwoman Alice Igitol, Reps. Edwin Aldan, Frank Aguon and Joseph Leepan Guerrero while those who voted no were Reps. Donald Barcinas, Joe Itibus and House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez.

Aldan was absent from the previous committee meeting.

The members who were against the bill said they wanted to conduct another public hearing to get more comments from the community.

Barcinas said the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. does not support the proposed 55-year lease extension either, saying the current law which allows for a 40-year lease is sufficient.

Igitol said the Senate had already conducted a public hearing and incorporated in the bill some of the public’s concerns and recommendations.

She said it is in the best interests of the NMDs that she support the bill which will allow existing hotels to continue operating so that more locals can be hired and given  job opportunities.

She said they support the intent of the bill on condition that the current hotels upgrade and improve their facilities.

Originally the bill proposed to extend the lease for 70 years but a Senate amendment reduced the extension to 55 years.

If signed into law, the bill will allow some of the island’s major hotels to re-negotiate the extension of their leases with the Department of Public Lands.

The Hyatt and Fiesta Resort leases will expire next year while the lease of Mariana Resort has already expired, and it is now operating on a 90-day extension granted by DPL that ends in July.