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Senators pass amended refinance bill

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The third day was indeed the charm...although "charm" might not be the best way to describe the legislative wrangling over the past few days.

Lawmakers passed an amended refinance bill by Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. In an apparent compromise, the measure did not include a series of spending amendments that certain senators had objected to. The only spending in the bill was for bond-related fees for the Guam Economic Development Authority, and improvements at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

But in a move that seemed to ruffle feathers, Senator Michael San Nicolas challenged colleagues with an amendment to prioritize other payments instead. "Who on this floor wants to vote and say, that they want to make that money go there, before we pay our taxpayers within thirty days, before we pay our vendors within thirty days, before we pay our employees within thirty days? That's the only requirement that this amendment is setting - a standard, an actual standard in which we will be required to make sure these payments go to our people," he said.

"Let's finally say, Madame Speaker, that when we save money we're going to prioritize the people that we owe."

The amendment was voted down, but not before drawing some terse responses, including Majority Leader Rory Respicio, who said, "The rhetoric has to stop. And if this senator wants to hold us accountable in this session hall, then I think we should hold that chairman accountable for losing $30 million in potential savings by not having a public hearing on a measure that was introduced earlier in the year.  And why did our oversight chair neglect his duty to have these bonds refinanced and we could have saved potentially $30 million. I don't like how the argument is being framed."

The measure referred to was a bill similar to the one passed today, but one that was never reported out of San Nicolas' Legislative Committee on Finance. The author was Senator Rodriguez.

He said, "We talk about the public's input is so important.  Every one of us believes that and we know that. But the finance chairman didn't act on the in his committee to have a public hearing that said we want to designate these monies for the Guam Memorial Hospital. No public hearing, Madame Speaker. So we can't just now come around and say we need the public's input. Well, where were you for the last six months?"

The Rodriguez bill passed by a vote of 9-4, with Speaker Judi Won Pat, Vice Speaker BJ Cruz, and Senators San Nicolas and Tom Ada voting no.

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