While the issue of leadership was finally resolved Tuesday, ushering in the first-ever female speaker of the legislative branch of the Government of Guam, some say the attorney general's opinion that lead to the official leadership switch may have opened a whole new can of worms. Senator Judi Won Pat officially became Guam's first female speaker yesterday. "It's definitely an awesome feeling," she said of the responsibility. "More importantly, what I'd like is to have peace within our own body right here."
The speaker says she wants to help the Legislature to heal and put their differences aside in order to accomplish the work of the people, adding they likely won't go after the leadership of the committees except for the Committee on agenda, the Committee on Calendar, and the Executive Committee. "I'd like to not cause any disruption as much as possible; I think for the most part we're ready to move on," she said.
In addition to being the first female speaker, Won Pat says this is the first time a speaker is also the daughter of a former speaker. "And not only that he's also the first speaker of the first Guam Legislature," she pointed out.
While there are many firsts with this change of leadership, Senator Eddie Calvo says AG Alicia Limtiaco's finding that a simple majority of a quorum of senators has brought to light a whole new issue. "Kinda like we're in a brave new world right now and obviously now with opinions put forth on standing rules and the rule of the majority, as well as clarity on the Organic Act and the number of votes necessary for passage of a bill, it's very clear from the attorney general's opinion that a bill can be passed by a legislative body if (1) there's enough for a quorum where a majority of the body is present for a quorum and (2) when the majority of that quorum votes in affirmation of that bill," he stated.
This means that with a quorum of 8 senators, 5 would then be the majority. Calvo continued, "The whole equation has changed as far as I'm concerned. Of course, based on the attorney general's opinion if you have eight senators in here, which is a quorum and the majority vote for the passage of a bill, which is five, then that bill has been passed by the legislature."
During yesterdays session Senator Calvo's Bill 120 (which failed months ago) was brought back into consideration. Calvo says that technically according to the AG's opinion Bill 120 would've passed because 7 of the 12 senators present at the time voted 'yes', making a simple majority of the quorum. "Again, based on the standing rules and the attorney general's opinion of the Organic Act, like Lazarus, I got a second chance for my bill to come back to life," he theorized.
Calvo says that although he won't try and submit the bill to the governor for his signature, it does give the bill credence to be voted on again.