Salary bill vetoed, again

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Tuesday vetoed the latest version of the salary bill, saying it wasn’t passed by the required 3/4 votes of the House of Representatives.

Introduced by Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero, House Bill 20-195 addressed the concern mentioned by acting Gov. Victor B. Hocog when he vetoed an earlier version of the measure, H.B. 20-194, which proposed to retain the lawmakers’ current annual salary of $39,300.

Ralph Torres

In vetoing the bill, Hocog cited the attorney general’s opinion which states that the advisory commission that recommended the pay-rate went beyond its constitutional authority when it developed its own Composite Price Index.

The new bill, H.B. 20-195,  would reduce the lawmakers’ annual salary from $39,300 to $32,000.

On Wednesday, Speaker Ralph Demapan introduced a new version of the bill, H.B. 20-197, which the House will try to pass in an emergency session today, Thursday.

The Constitution requires that bills pertaining to spending, financial management or government organization must be passed by 3/4 votes of each house of a lame duck Legislature.

Last month, only seven of the 20 House members voted in favor of H.B. 20-195. Ten members who will serve in the next Legislature abstained because of a possible conflict of interest.

The seven who voted yes were the outgoing members: Speaker Demapan, Reps. Joseph Deleon Guerrero, Frank Aguon, Greg Sablan Jr., Edwin Aldan, Glenn Maratita and Angel Demapan.

The bill was passed last week by seven of the Senate’s nine members.

In his veto message, Governor Torres said the attorney general had told him “that H.B. 20-195 has failed to pass the House with the supermajority of votes mandated for the passage of a bill affecting spending authority.�

Torres said because H.B. 20-195 “did not succeed in attaining the required amount of votes in the House of Representatives for approval, the bill is legally insufficient. Accordingly, I must respectfully exercise my constitutional authority to veto this bill and recommend that the Legislature reintroduce this legislation after it has garnered the…number of votes required.�

Speaker Demapan, in an interview, noted that the AG’s concern was about the required number of votes and not the possible conflict of interest.

 If the bill does not become law,  members of the incoming Legislature would each receive an annual salary of $8,000.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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