Legislature may file for declaratory judgment - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Legislature may file for declaratory judgment

by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - It appears lawmakers could be heading to court to settle the cloud of controversy over a public law authorizing a vote on medicinal marijuana.  

"To me this is such a non-issue how is that a law was passed but a law was not followed I do not even understand how this even became issue," said Senator Aline Yamashita. At issue however is the Guam Election Commission's refusal to follow the law. Bill 215 which lapsed into law allows voters to decide whether to legalize medicinal marijuana on Guam. The Guam Election Commission board upon advice from its legal counsel deemed the law inorganic and as a result will not place it on the November ballot.  On the floor today the bills' main author Senator Tina Muna Barnes asked her colleagues to support Resolution 358 which requests for a declaratory judgment from the Supreme Court over the Guam Legislature's ability through a duly passed law of Guam to direct the Guam Election Commission to place a measure on the ballot. "Whether you agree with the subject matter on Bill 215 is irrelevant what is relevant is whether or not we as a body can place issues before the voters of Guam. What is relevant is our powers and our duties. What is relevant is our institutional integrity as a separate an coequal branch of government," she said.

Senator Yamashita is the co-author of Bill 215, and said, "It is an issue and the issue isn't even about the content of the question as the previous speaker said but it really is the what is the Guam Legislature about.  We are about identifying researching deliberating arguing passing public policy in the best interest of the people and we are about forwarding it to the Executive Branch for consideration and action and all of that happened."

You may recall Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. was the only senator to vote against Bill 215's passage. Today however he stood in support of the resolution. Rodriguez Jr. said, "I think its very important that he question be asked to the court in terms of the powers and authority of this body so what this resolution does Mr. Speaker is put forth that important question. Because maybe not in this body in future bodies its very important to understand what the roles and our powers are."

The resolution was moved to the voting file.

We should also note the GEC board recommended the legislature seek a declaratory judgment when it decided not to place the medicinal marijuana question on the ballot.

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