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Bordallo presents agenda in Washington

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Serving her 7th term as Guam's Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo delivered her annual address at the Guam Legislature Thursday evening. She was escorted into the Speaker Antonio R. Unpingco, Legislative Session Hall by Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr.

After her welcoming remarks, the Congresswoman delved into the topic of Self Determination, “we cannot begin a conversation on improving the quality of life for our people without discussing the need to exercise our right to political self determination,” she said. The Congresswoman said we must get on with the process and urged the Governor and the Legislature to work with the Commission on Decolonization to begin the process so that we can make the self determination vote a reality. She also suggested that the requirement to have a certain percentage of eligible voters registered before the vote can be set be removed. “I urge the Legislature to set the vote and let those who are eligible register by a certain deadline. Achieving decolonization will be a multi step process that will take time but we must begin to set the stage for this to completely play out,” Bordallo added.

During her address the Congresswoman also discussed her planned introduction of two amendments to the Organic Act of Guam. The first is based on the Legislature's passage of Resolution 33-2, which asks that she introduce an amendment to the Organic Act that would require the passage of an election before any pay adjustment for the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Senators can take effect. The resolution was introduced and passed following the recent controversy over pay raises that elected leaders approved for themselves. “And while this does not address the current debate, it will help to restore trust and confidence in the Legislature,” the Congresswoman stated. The second amendment to the Organic Act the Congresswoman is proposing would make it easier for individuals to enter public service and give voters more options. Specifically she will be introducing an amendment that would remove the 5 year residency requirement for the Senators, Governor and Lieutenant Governor. There is no such requirement for the Attorney General or for her office.

On the issue of Compact Impact, the Congresswoman, as she did during a hearing in Washington DC last week and during the recent Inter-agency Group on Insular Areas meeting, said she would work with her colleagues to restore discretionary funding at least to fiscal year 2015 enacted levels. The President's Budget requests a decrease in discretionary Compact-impact though the Office of Insular Affairs from $3 million to $1.3 million for fiscal year 2016; $30 million in mandatory spending remains intact. Bordallo also pledged to continue to work with local leaders and stakeholders to identify creative solutions that will enable Guam to recoup the amounts it spends to provide social services to migrants.

Along with highlighting the progress on the military buildup and the upcoming arrival of Light Utility Helicopters for our Army National Guard, the Congresswoman reported that the Department of Veterans Administration has included a request for $550,000 in the fiscal year 2016 budget to begin planning and design on a $5.5 million expansion to the community based outpatient clinic.

The Congresswoman meanwhile isn't giving up on war reparations for the victims and survivors of the Japanese Occupation of Guam during World II. The effort has been one that she along with all of her predecessors has been working to resolve. Bordallo during her address discussed the possibility of taking the matter to court. “I have been approached by legal experts who believe that we should open up another avenue to resolve war claims through a federal lawsuit,” she stated. The Congresswoman said she supports the proposal and looks forward to more detailed discussion, “While there is some risk associated with this strategy, I support this proposal because it is becoming clearer than ever that conservatives in Congress will continue to block this bill as evidenced by the legislative record of the past couple of years,” Bordallo added.

The Congresswoman also announced that the U.S. territories have received confirmation that they will be included in President Obama's America's College Promise Proposal. The President announced the initiative earlier this year. It would provide a partnership between the federal and local government that could offer students two free years of tuition at community colleges.

KUAM will be broadcasting the Congresswoman's Annual Address on Friday, March 13th at 1pm on KUAM-TV8, at 4:00pm on KUAM-TV11 and at 7pm on DOCOMO Pacific Local 2.

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