Senate OKs bill to create 2 more casino commission seats

THE Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a measure that will allow for the appointment of a female and a person of Carolinian descent to the Commonwealth Casino Commission which currently has five members.

Senate Bill 20-87, which was introduced by Sen. Justo Quitugua, now goes to the House of Representatives.

The commission currently consists of three members from Saipan and one each from Rota and Tinian.

The commission opposes the bill, saying that it fails to appropriate funding for the additional costs to the commission. The current compensation for each commissioner is $65,000 per annum. The Legislature will need to identify about $250,000 to fund the new commissioners’ salaries, as well as furniture and fixtures, office space, training and related expenses, the commission said.

The commission currently gets most of its budget from the casino regulatory fee paid annually by the exclusive casino licensee, Imperial Pacific International.

Former Rep. Ana S. Teregeyo appeared before the Senate on Thursday to testify in support of the bill.

She said since the commission is a regulatory agency, ‘it is imperative that [it] have broad-based representation in its leadership and include a female representative as it is a new industry with many challenges.”

Also expressing support for the bill were John Tagabuel, executive director for Carolinian Affairs Office, and Doris Drew, head of the Women’s Affairs Office.

Commission chairman Juan Sablan reiterated that the bill is an unfunded mandate, adding that now is not the right time to modify the composition of the commission.

Commissioner Justin Manglona of Rota, whose term is expiring, earlier told lawmakers that by April 30, 2020, “the terms of all three commissioners from Saipan will expire and the governor will have the option to appoint new members to reflect the [intent of] Senate Bill 20-87, negating the need for its passage at this time.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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