House panel OKs bill to allow temporary business licenses

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THE House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday approved a measure that will allow temporary business licenses.

Sheila Babauta

Authored by Rep. Sheila Babauta, House Bill 21-87 would authorize the Department of Finance to establish fees for temporary business licenses to be issued to those participating in public and community events for not more than 30 consecutive days.

The temporary licenses, the bill proposes, “shall not be transferred nor renewed.”

In an interview, Babauta said she was very pleased that Ways and Means has endorsed the passage of H.B. 21-87.

She thanked the committee chairman, Rep. Ivan Blanco and the members for their questions and support for the bill.

She said she is also grateful to Revenue and Taxation Director Tracy Norita who answered questions from lawmakers and expressed support for the bill.

Babauta said the Saipan Chamber of Commerce is also supporting H.B. 21-87.

She said there are two parts to her bill: 1) allow for issuance of temporary business licenses, and 2) authorize the Department of Finance to establish annual, temporary, and late fees through regulation.

The measure would allow Finance to issue temporary licenses to small businesses that want to participate in community events, such as the Flame Tree Arts Festival or the Sabalu Market.

“These temporary business licenses are valid for 30 days, without the option of renewal or transfer. I support businesses in our CNMI and believe this will encourage those with an entrepreneurial spirit to take a chance and participate in our local events to share their products and/or service,” Babauta said.

“Another important aspect of this legislation is to allow the Department of Finance the authority to establish annual and temporary fees, as well as late fees, through regulation. Empowering the department to make these changes will allow for better response during good or bad economic times. The department should have the ability to increase or decrease fees as a response to our Commonwealth’s economic situation. However, Revenue and Taxation Director Tracy Norita also assured the committee that proper procedures are in place to ensure that the public will be involved through public comment solicitation, public hearings and publications, and notified of any changes to the fees.”

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