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    Saturday, December 16, 2017-7:45:47A.M.






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House passes measure barring DPL from leasing public land for live-fire or bombing activity

THE House of Representatives on Tuesday passed 11 measures, including Senate Bill 19-42, which prohibits the Department of Public Lands from leasing any land in the commonwealth for military live-fire or bombing activity.

All 15 members present during the session on Rota adopted the standing-committee reports that recommended the passage of the measures.

Reps. Vinnie Sablan, Ralph Yumul and BJ Attao confer during a break at a recent House session.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

Absent were House Minority Leader Ramon Tebuteb, Reps. Ralph Yumul, Edwin Propst, Vinnie Sablan and BJ Attao.

The House Committee on Natural Resources chaired by Rep. Edwin Aldan recommended the passage of Senate Bill 19-42 as amended by the House.

Aldan inserted new language in the title of the bill which now reads: “To amend 1 CMC Section 2806 prohibiting the Department of Public Lands from leasing any lands of the commonwealth for any military live-fire or bombing activity; to require any proposed public land lease for any other military activity to be ratified by the CNMI people of Northern Marianas Descent at a general or special election and for other purposes.”

Aldan said “the committee is cognizant that if DPL is prohibited from leasing any lands of the commonwealth for any military activity, it still does not prevent the U.S. military from taking the land it desires through the power of eminent domain, thus the CNMI will lose its ability to negotiate to get the best deal for the CNMI people.”

He added, “The amendments made by the committee will clarify that only people of Northern Marianas Descent can ratify the proposed lease agreement and it must be approved by a majority of the votes cast at the next general election or special election.”

The measure was then approved by the House and will now return to the Senate.

Its authors are Senate President Frank Borja, Senate Vice President Arnold Palacios, Senate Floor Leader Steve Mesngon, Sens. Sixto Igisomar, Frank Cruz, Justo Quitugua, Teresita Santos and Jude Hofschneider.

The House on Tuesday likewise passed:

• Senate Bill 19-134, to amend 3 CMC Section 1506 (a) and (b) regarding administrative librarian duties and qualifications and to provide a global amendment in Title 3, Chapter 5;

• Senate Bill 19-11, to establish a solid-waste transfer station in the southern part of Saipan and Kagman;

• House Bill 19-141, to amend 4 CMC Section 5559 (b) and 6 CMC Section 3110 (b) with respect to the ID card requirements;

• Senate Bill 19-68, to amend 4 CMC Section 51403 by adding a new subsection (f);

• House Bill 19-139, to amend Title 1 Division 8 Part 2 Chapter 4 to exempt the Commonwealth Development Authority from the salary limitations imposed by the Compensation Adjustment Act;

• Senate Bill 19-61, to amend 3 CMC Section 2824, 4 CMC Section 7103, 4 CMC Section 7301 (d) 4 CMC Section 7105, 4 CMC Section 7112 (b) and 4 CMC Section 7615 (j) to assess the total costs of healthcare in the CNMI by establishing a claims and clinical data warehouse at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and to improve the accountability for how health insurance premiums are spent by requiring insurers and healthcare providers to submit reports on the medical loss ratio and claims and clinical data to the insurance commissioner;

• House Bill 19-45, to amend 4 CMC Section 50131 (c) Section 50144 ( b) (d) and Section 50145 to increase fines, fees and penalties regarding illegal sales of tobacco;

• House Bill 19-55, to prohibit cruelty and theft of animals;

• House Bill 19-122, to establish a provision to provide an immediate designation of existing public lands for homestead lots within the CNMI; and,

• House Bill 19-124, to provide legislative oversight on public land leases by limiting the Department of Public Lands scope of authority relative to parcel size.