House passes bill that addresses Settlement Fund trustee’s concerns

THE House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a measure that will address the concerns of Settlement Fund trustee Joyce Tang regarding Public Law 20-10.

She sought clarity on how the retirees’ Christmas bonus will be paid using the Saipan casino revenue.

All 19 members present voted to pass House Bill 20-129 which was introduced by Rep. Frank Dela Cruz and now goes to the Senate.

The bill proposes to amend P.L. 20-10 to, among other things, apply the subsidy provided by the casino’s business gross revenue tax payments to the Fuel Adjustment Charge collected from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s residential customers.

In a letter to the governor on Nov. 20, Tang said P.L. 20-10 identifies the amount and the recipient of the funds in the special casino GRT account, but it does not specifically appropriate the funds required to cover the additional 25 percent payments for fiscal year 2018 and the Christmas bonus of retirees.

“Section 3 (a) of Public Law 20-10 states that the first $22,000,000, of the GRT generated shall be earmarked and continuously appropriated. Please provide the authority under CNMI law which permits continuous appropriation,” Tang said in her letter to the governor.

Tang added that in 2016, Public Law 19-75 was enacted to specifically appropriate and provide the Christmas bonus payment for all retirees and their beneficiaries.

“Public Law 20-10 appears to restrict the bonus payment to   retirees of the First, Second and Third Senatorial Districts. If the intent is to include beneficiaries of retirees (qualifying survivors) in the bonus payment, the new bill should make clear that the beneficiaries of retirees are included in the recipient group,” Tang said.

Prior to its enactment into law, P.L. 20-10 was introduced by Rep. Angel Demapan in the form of House Bill 20-99. It amended the casino law to change the language of appropriation and to include the Northern Marianas Trades Institute and Northern Marianas College as recipients of the casino funds.

On Wednesday, Demapan offered amendments to House Bill 20-129 to address Tang’s concerns and “fix” the language of P.L. 20-10.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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