Marianas Variety

Last updateWed, 22 May 2019 12am







    Tuesday, May 21, 2019-4:35:08A.M.






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House panel discusses NMD bill

THE House Committee on Natural Resources has started discussing a legislative initiative that will establish a trust fund for persons of Northern Marianas descent or NMDs and provide direct benefits to them.

Rep. Alice Igitol, the committee chairwoman, introduced House Legislative Initiative 20-1 which is a proposal to amend the CNMI Constitution.

A CNMI Supreme Court decision prevents the use of the proceeds from public-land leases to develop homesteads and homestead infrastructure.

The legislative initiative specifically provides that the proceeds from public-land leases may be used for homestead development including necessary infrastructure and that public lands will be managed for the benefit of persons of NMD.

Committee member Rep. Edwin  Aldan said the legislative initiative should specify that necessary infrastructure includes water, power and sewer service.

He wants clear language that will allow the Department of Public Lands to use funds for water, power and sewer infrastructure.

The committee will discuss his proposals when it meets again next week.

The committee also held a public hearing on the legislative initiative Tuesday night at the Gov. Pedro P. Multi-Purpose Center, but only 13 individuals showed up. These included former Speaker Pedro R. Deleon Guerrero, Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council Chairman L.J. Castro, NMD Corp. president John Gonzales and former Education Commissioner Elizabeth Diaz Rechebei. They all supported the legislative initiative.

According to Article XVIII, Section 3 of the CNMI Constitution, “The Legislature by the affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members of each house present and voting may propose amendments to this Constitution…. An act of the Legislature under this section may not be vetoed by the governor.”

An amendment proposed by legislative initiative “shall become effective if approved by a majority of the votes cast” in a special or general election.