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Governor calls Legislature into special session

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo has written a letter to Speaker Judi Won Pat disappointed that lawmakers did not publicly discuss the new bill he sent to them earlier this week, namely Bill 1-2-S, "The bill attached here has never had the benefit of debate on the floor of the legislature, much like the original budget bill I submitted and the budget bill the legislature was supposed to consider yesterday on the floor. And just like the bill I submitted for consideration in special session yesterday, there is no other legislation that can be considered, according to the law of the land, either by debate or in substitution. No procedural maneuver should circumvent the Organic Act of Guam," the Governor stated in his letter to Won Pat. Governor Calvo has called Senators into another Special Session for 9 o'clock this morning.

Governor Calvo has called Senators into special session to specifically discuss his new bond bill that calls for a $343M bond to pay all past due tax refunds and COLA.

Ø      August 16th:  Session starts with announcement that Governor's Bond was removed from his original bill,  Substitute Bill 145 was accepted by majority

Ø      August 22nd: Democrats approve amendment by Senator Ben Pangelinan to include in SB145 $180M bond ($120M will go to pay past due tax refunds)

Ø      August 26th: SB145 passes by vote of 8-7 (All republicans vote No, Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. passed 3 times constituting a No vote. )

Ø      September 1st: Governor Eddie Calvo vetoes SB145 calling it "disastrous"

Ø      September 2nd: Governor Calvo calls Senators into a Special Session to discuss his new budget, Bill 1-1-S

o       Lawmakers during special session voted down Bill 1-1-S. Vote was 7-6.

o       Lawmakers then went out of special session and back into regular session where they attempted to override the Governor's veto of SB145. The override failed.

Ø      September 5th: Governor Calvo sends Legislature a compromise bill. Bill 1-2-S calls for $239M bond of which $187M would go to pay past due tax refunds and $20M to COLA.

Ø      September 6th: Governor Calvo calls lawmakers into second Special Session. Lawmakers moved Bill 1-2-S to 2nd reading file and 14 Senators sign letter to Governor asking clarification with legislation.

Ø      September 7th: Governor Calvo responds to lawmakers concerns. Lawmakers return to 2nd Special Session and remove language from Governor's Bill 1-2-S and replace it with contents of newly introduced Bill 304 which separates bond from budget. Bill 304 provides funding for government operations only.  Senator Ben Pangelinan introduces Bill 305 for $180M bond to pay past due tax refunds.

Ø      September 8th: Governor Calvo calls Senators into 3rd Special Session to deliberate on a new bill proposing a $343M bond to pay all past due tax refunds

 


GOVERNOR CALVO'S LETTER

 

Dear Madam Speaker,

The bill attached here has never had the benefit of debate on the floor of the legislature, much like the original budget bill I submitted and the budget bill the legislature was supposed to consider yesterday on the floor. And just like the bill I submitted for consideration in special session yesterday, there is no other legislation that can be considered, according to the law of the land, either by debate or in substitution. No procedural maneuver should circumvent the Organic Act of Guam.

What is most disheartening, as an elected official and a colleague to those who serve under your house of government, is that the senators of the Guam Legislature have been continuously robbed of their responsibility and privilege to consider legislation I have submitted. Their concerns, their questions and their debate on the merits of the ideas that have come before them have gone unanswered, not because someone refused to answer them, but because the legislative leadership has refused to even allow the forum for their consideration. While this government has long struggled in the past with the plague of ‘gag orders' by managers who refused to be accountable or transparent, the muffling of senators' voices – those elected individually by the people to be the voice of the people – is a grave disservice to democracy and the democratic process.

Madam Speaker, unlike the budget measures the legislature has ultimately passed after substituting the original bills, I have put my ideas and my proposals to the white-hot light of public scrutiny and debate. It seems everyone has been allowed to engage in this debate except for the senators. Support has grown for the effort to pay taxpayers ALL of their tax refunds. From every corner of this community, people are imploring their government to immediately pay its obligations to the people of Guam. Yet, for some reason, my proposal to float a $343 million bond to pay all tax refunds and COLA has not once been debated on the floor of the legislature. To the contrary, other measures, conjured in the dead of night and without any degree of public debate or scrutiny, are given consideration on the floor. And yet, it's not even full consideration. Procedural motions are made, and these proposals are pushed through the legislature, as though the voices of Senators like Tom Ada, Tony Ada, Frank Blas, Jr., Chris Duenas, Dr. Judith Guthertz, Dr. Sam Mabini, Tina Muna Barnes, Adolpho Palacios, Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., Mana Silva Taijeron and Dr. Aline Yamashita do not count.

Madam Speaker, they were all elected by the people, too. They, in being the voices for the people, have the right and the duty to consider this proposal in full and on the floor of the legislature, just as the Organic Act dictates. I am certain they want to consider this measure, because I am certain they share the same conscience as I: to pay the people all their tax refunds and our manamko' the outstanding COLA they have been waiting for.

Pursuant to Section 1423h of the Organic Act of Guam, I am hereby calling a special session of I Liheslaturan Guahan to take place today, September 8, 2011, at 9 a.m. at the Speaker Antonio R. Unpingco Legislative Session Hall. In this regard, please immediately alert all sitting members of the legislature to appear for the convening of this special session. I am calling this special session for the sole purpose that I Mina Trentai Unu na Liheslaturan Guahan consider and vote upon the proposed legislation I am introducing, which you will find attached to this letter. It is my solemn opinion that the public interest requires I call this special session for the legislature to consider and vote upon the attached bond authorization to pay the people their tax refunds, and government retirees their outstanding cost of living allowances.

Please note the Organic Act of Guam, at Section 1423h, legally mandates that the Governor of Guam "may call special sessions of the Legislature at any time…". Thus controlling law directs that the legislature suspend any other business for this call to special session, until such time as the matter identified for the special session has been voted upon after full and fair consideration, and debate.

Furthermore, Section 1423h of the Organic Act of Guam states: "No legislation shall be considered at any special session other than that specified in the call therefore or in any special message by the Governor to the Legislature while in such session." Thus I would remind the legislature, again, that the attached proposed legislation is the only matter which may be considered and acted upon during this special session, and no other matter may be addressed.

Thank you in advance for your diligence and quick action to assemble all sitting members of the legislature for the special session I have called. I look forward to this opportunity for you and your colleagues to fulfill your duty to the people of Guam by passing this bond to repay taxpayers and our manamko'. 

Sincerely,
EDDIE BAZA CALVO

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