House panel deadlocked on land-lease-extension bill

THE House Committee on Natural Resources  is deadlocked on Senate Bill 20-35 which proposes to extend public-land-lease terms to 55 years.

Chaired by Rep. Alice Igitol, the committee voted on the bill for adoption, Tuesday, but the result was a tie — 3 in favor and 3 opposed.

Alice IgitolAlice Igitol

Igitol and Reps. Leepan Guerrero and Frank Aguon wanted the bill to move forward, but Reps. Donald Barcinas, Joe Itibus and House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez said there should be a public hearing first. The seventh member and vice chairman of the committee, Rep. Edwin Aldan of Tinian, was absent.

The committee decided to refer the bill to the House floor for deliberation and action.

“It’s now up to  the entire House of Representatives to deliberate and vote on it,” Igitol said.

Introduced by Senate President Arnold Palacios, the bill will extend the term of public-land leases from 40 years to 55 years.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in Aug. 2017 and has been pending in Igitol’s committee since then.

On April 20, 2018, hotel executives and employees gathered in the House chamber to urge representatives to act on the bill expeditiously.

Under the bill, hotel land leases that are soon to expire may be extended for another 15 years.

The 40-year land lease granted to Mariana Resort & Spa expired on April 30, but it has been allowed to operate for another 90 days while the leases of the Hyatt Regency Saipan and the Fiesta Resort are expiring next year. The Pacific Islands Club has two years left on its lease.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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