San Nicolas, Rodriguez at odds over bill's delays - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

San Nicolas, Rodriguez at odds over bill's delays

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Senator Michael San Nicolas called a news conference today to respond to claims by colleagues that his inaction on bond refinance legislation cost taxpayers some $30 million in potential savings. There was never a dispute over refinancing the bonds, but there were very differing versions on what took so long.

It took three legislative days, including a special session called by the governor, to get the bond refinance bill passed. Senator San Nicolas wanted to clear-up what he believes are misconceptions about why the original refinancing measures never made it out of his Finance Committee. He says the bills contained more than one subject, and therefore non-compliant. And for that reason they could not be heard.

"We need to make sure that whenever we're going to move any issue forward that involves indentures, contracts, or anything else that can be legally challenged it has to be done in full compliance with the law. And so it's for those reasons that Bill 34 was not able to move forward, bill 80 was not able to move forward.  And moved forward Bill 130 that fully complied with the law," he explained.

But bill sponsor Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. says his measures were compliant, noting, "Every bond bill that we have acted upon always included what the funds would be used for, and that exactly what this bill had.  And also, these two bills were drafted in consultation with legal counsel, with the GEDA financial experts, a government bond counsel and also the governor's fiscal team."

The two senators confirm they met multiple times on the bills.  The first was introduced in January, the second in April.  KUAM News asked Senator San Nicolas why he and his colleagues couldn't get together and fix that in the interest of getting the bill done on time. "I spoke to Senator Rodriguez on multiple occasions," he responded, adding, "it was for that reason I was hoping that he would withdrew his original Bill 34, when he transmitted Bill 80. I again communicated with him and informed him there was this same issue with the bill. And he was asking me to reconsider and I told him senator you need to reconsider your Bill 130."

Rodriguez says the chairman's duty is to conduct a public hearing and if there are issues to have it substituted by the committee. "Multiple times I requested Senator San Nicolas to have hearings on this to move it forward, and it fell on deaf ears. His only response really was to introduce a similar measure to refinance those bonds and that was months after the initial bill was introduced," he shared. "What we're seeing here is what happens when you have one individual who wants to take matters into his own hands, and doesn't involve the community, doesn't involve the public, doesn't involve experts."

And while Rodriguez continues to blame the chairman for delays that he says cost millions, his bill ultimately did pass, and the governor has signed it into law.

But San Nicolas remains unconvinced, maintaining, "So at this time my only avenue at this point is to ask the attorney general to just validate whether or not the actions that we've taken to this point are OK, and if not, please advise immediately as to what to do next."

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