Sgro urges veto of bill he originally supported - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Sgro urges veto of bill he originally supported

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Senator Tom Ada is surprised to hear the Guam Chamber of Commerce is pushing for a veto of his Tropical Energy Code Bill.

That's because he says Chamber chairman Peter Sgro has flip-flopped his position from over a week ago.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce has come out against Bill 61, otherwise known as the Guam Tropical Energy Code. The measure was introduced by Senator Ada and was passed by lawmakers on February 1. Sgro said, "As the Chamber, we're very concerned not only for our membership but our community at large because this does have an economic effect."

Bill 61, referred to as the "G-TEC", sets a baseline standard that addresses energy-efficient requirements for the design, materials, and equipment used in nearly all new building constructions and renovations. In a letter to Governor Eddie Calvo Tuesday, the Chamber urged for a veto because of concerns on how changing the code would increase costs and how an economic impact statement wasn't conducted. "Even if he had 10 public hearings, even if he had 100 public hearings, the law is really clear that an economic impact statement has to be prepared prior to the rule being submitted and transmitted to the Legislature, so you can't introduce a bill until an economic impact statement is done," he said.

Sgro adds because there wasn't an EIS, the Chamber didn't bother coming out to the public hearing. "And to go to a meeting and to go to a discussion and just read about a code that just forces itself down the throats of our people, it made no sense to participate," he said.

Sgro's statements and the letter written to the governor however state two different things. In the letter signed by Sgro and president David Leddy it states, "The public didn't have an adequate opportunity to participate in the public hearing." Senator Ada says six different public hearings were held. Guam Building Code Council chairman Brent Wiese, one of several professionals who worked on the bill, even personally invited the chamber to provide input.

"So to go to through all that and the legislature process, they had a hearing, they had a vote and approved it and not participate in the process at all but to come at the eleventh hour and make a big stink is really disappointing," he said.

Senator Ada was unavailable for further comment but in a release stated he was surprised and disappointed by the Chamber's sudden change of position. He states a meeting at the Chamber last week with his staff and Wiese, Sgro indicated he was supportive of the bill and would even be writing to the governor urging its passage. Sgro says that's not true stating he never attended any meeting. "I'm a little disappointed as well that the senator in his press release said I attended a meeting and he also said that I met with his staff and also said I was going to put in writing that I was going to support this bill," he said.

"I met with him, I met with him on the 29th of January," said Wiese, speaking of Sgro and Leddy. Asked if he supported it, he said, "At the meeting, yes." He said this surprised him.

KUAM News called Leddy for comment about the meeting, but he declined to comment.  Wiese further responds to Sgro's allegations that a group of people, namely architects and engineers, will financially gain from this code at the loss of the people of Guam. He says those claims are baseless. "The minimum requirements to apply to a building and stuff is being done on drawings anyways - it's really not a economic generator for any engineer or architect, the fees on island are tight, competition is tough, so nobody is going to be getting rich off of this," he said.

The governor has one more day to act on Bill 61 before it lapses into law. Wiese hopes the governor won't veto the bill saying it's a "win-win" for the island. He adds he would be shocked if he did veto the bill considering its inline with is directives and his recent presidential appointment. "And it's consistent with the governor's Guam Energy Task Force, this is a key step in that process. The governor's been appointed by president Obama to part of another energy savings task force and this is consistent with that," he said.

We should add during the public hearing, over a dozen professionals testified in support including the Guam Realtors Association, the Guam Power Authority, the Guam Energy Office, and the University of Guam. Two individuals testified against including businessman Al Ysrael, who stated the intentions of the policymakers are good, but adopting a model code developed stateside won't take into account the unique characteristics of Guam. 

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