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Last updateSat, 21 Jul 2018 12am







    Sunday, July 22, 2018-7:52:02P.M.






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House passes $3.3M public health bill, other measures

THE House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a measure appropriating $3.3 million in tobacco control funds to support and supplement awareness, detection and prevention programs relating to cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses.

All 17 members present during the session on Rota voted yes to House Bill 20-131, which was introduced by Rep. Angel Demapan.

Absent were Vice Speaker Janet Maratita, Reps. Edwin Propst and Donald Barcinas.

Demapan said cigarette smoking is the single most critical risk associated with the leading chronic diseases in the CNMI such as cancer, heart disease and emphysema.

Heart disease and cancer make up more than 60 percent of the off-island medical referral costs, he added.

“More than $2 million is spent each year treating diseases related to tobacco and alcohol use in the CNMI,” Demapan said. “Thus, the tobacco control fund was created to ensure funding will be provided to such treatment programs.”

The fiscal year 2018 government budget appropriates $3,375,000 for tobacco control. Demapan said “in order for the CNMI to meet the statutory mandate of the tobacco control fund, I offered legislation to provide four equal distributions of $843,750 each to four programs under the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s Division of Public Health Services and the Public School System.”

The funds are proposed to be distributed as follows:

•$843,750 to CHCC’s Division of Public Health Services for activities relating to the monitoring of morbidity and mortality from cancer and other tobacco related illnesses in the CNMI;

•$843,750 to CHCC’s Division of Public Health Services for the support of prenatal and maternal care, provided, however, that such prenatal and maternal care programs incorporate smoking cessation assistance and guidance;

•$843,750 for workplace-based and community smoking prevention and smoking cessation programs, for tobacco-related public service advertising and education programs, to be administered by CHCC’s Division of Public Health Services; and

• $843,750 to the Public School System for a comprehensive school health education program to be administered jointly by CHCC’s Division of Public Health Services and PSS relating to the hazards of tobacco use by CNMI youth.

“I would like to thank my colleagues in the House for their full support in the swift passage of this measure,” Demapan said.

The House also passed the following measures:

• House Bill 20-128, by Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, to establish separate marriage license fees for residents and non-residents;

• H. B. 20-106, by House Floor Leader Glenn Maratita, to preserve and designate Lot 345 R 512 situated on Rota as Joaquin Mesngon Ogo, Tun Kindu, Sports Complex Arena;

• H.B. 20-107, by Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero, to re-establish the Street Directory Commission to update the Saipan master street naming map and compete the street numbering system;

• H.B. 20-119, by Vice Speaker Janet Maratita, to establish the CNMI Landlord and Tenant Rental Act of 2017;

• H.B. 20-13, by Speaker Ralph Demapan, to designate and establish Susupe Lake and its surrounding wetland as Susupe Lake Wildlife Park;

• H.B. 20-104, by Rep. Alice Igito, to require mandatory sentences for third strike offenders in cases of serious and violent felonies;

• H.B.20-58, by Rep. BJ Attao, to establish a Loss Recovery Division within the Department of Finance;

• H.B. 20-70, by Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero, to establish a CNMI Veterans Cemetery account that is separate and apart from the general fund;

• H.B. 20-95, by Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero, to establish the Office of Probation Supervision and to clarify the powers and responsibilities of the office and its divisions;

• H.B. 20-118, by Rep. Frank Aguon, to generate funding for the repair and maintenance of CNMI roads and highways by increasing fees for registration and licenses and establishing a temporary operator’s license category;

• H.B. 20-111, by House Floor Leader Glenn Maratita, to make it a crime to alter any document bearing the court seal or a copy of the court seal;

• H.B. 20-122, by Rep. Edwin Propst, to allow the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to suspend the expiration of a driver’s license for military personnel and their spouses while on deployment; and,

• Senate Bill 20-15, by Sen. Justo Quitugua, to establish a regent nominating committee process in the selection and appointment of regents to the Northern Marianas College board.

All House bills passed on Wednesday will now go to the Senate, while the approved Senate bill heads to the governor’s desk.