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Last updateFri, 26 Apr 2019 12am

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    Thursday, April 25, 2019-1:43:26A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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2 legislative initiatives on public lands introduced in House

TWO House legislative initiatives addressing public land issues were introduced on Friday.

Saipan Rep. Roman C. Benavente’s House Legislative Initiative 21-1 proposes to transfer the management of tourist sites from the Department of Public Lands to the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.

Benavente said the legislative initiative would, among other things, allow DLNR to impose fees on tourists visiting sites like the Grotto.

Benavente said DLNR needs funds to beautify, improve and secure the islands’ tourist destination.

DLNR is the proper government agency to manage tourist sites, he added.

Rep. Antonio Borja introduced H.L.I 21-2 which proposes to include infrastructure projects, land compensation claims and judgments, and loans for homesteaders on the list of recipients of public land revenues.

According to H.L.I 21-2, planning, permitting, utilities, infrastructure, land compensation and judgments are obligations that DPL must meet before remitting public land monies to the Marianas Public Land Trust

The initiative would also allow the trustees to invest a portion of the trust funds in private home loans, including loans for homestead recipients.

In an interview, Borja said DPL should be allowed to use public land proceeds for infrastructure development.

On Tinian, Borja said, DPL cannot build homestead infrastructure because the Constitution does not allow the department to use public lands proceeds for any infrastructure projects.

His H.L.I. 21-2 will address this problem, the Tinian lawmaker added.

A legislative initiative is a proposal to amend the CNMI Constitution. It must be passed by an affirmative vote of three-fourths of the members of each house present and voting, and ratified by voters in a special or general election. A legislative initiative passed by the Legislature “may not be vetoed by the governor,” according to the Constitution.