IN their first regular session on Friday, members of the House of Representatives introduced 23 bills, three local bills, and two resolutions.
Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero introduced eight measures: House Bills 22-1, 22-2, 22-5, 22-8, 22-14, 22-15, 22-16, and 22-17.
H.B. 22-1 is to establish CNMI civil remedies for unauthorized disclosure of intimate images, or the dissemination of sexually explicit images of others without their permission, sometimes referred to as “revenge porn” or “nonconsensual pornography.”
The second bill Guerrero introduced was H.B. 22-2, to amend the Commonwealth Code to authorize civil claims for child sexual abuse to be commenced at any time.
Guerrero also introduced H.B. 22-5, a bill to amend 1 CMC § 20175 to include additional members to serve on the Planning and Development Advisory Council.
H.B. 22-8, which proposes to establish the level of funding for the Legislature and to provide the Legislature with control of the expenditure of funds appropriated for its operations was also introduced by Guerrero.
H.B. 22-14 was likewise introduced by Guerrero to establish the Department of Corrections Residential Mental Health Unit.
The fifth bill he introduced was H.B. 22-15, to establish the Foster Care Sponsorship Program under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Division of Youth Services.
A bill to temporarily suspend the provisions of 4 CMC section 2159 for the 2021 fiscal year was also introduced by Guerrero. If passed, it would provide the Marianas Visitors Authority with critical funding. According to the bill, MVA is currently operating on an extremely tight budget due to challenges presented by Covid-19, among other things.
Guerrero also introduced H.B. 22-17 to amend 9 CMC §2401 to authorize the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to regulate chauffeur licenses in the Commonwealth.
Rep. Ivan Blanco introduced five bills: H.B. 22-9, 22-10, 22-11, 22-12, and 22-13.
House Bill 22-9 aims to regulate trust and fiduciaries while H.B. 22-11 will enact a provision requiring all CNMI government agencies to prepare and submit a fiscal impact statement and a fiscal revenue statement for related legislation to the Legislature when said agencies are affected and required to do so by law.
H.B. 22-12 seeks to amend 4 CMC §51420(b) to authorize the secretary of Commerce to establish and promulgate reasonable registration and permitting fees through adopted regulations.
A bill to create the Commonwealth Worker Fee Revolving Fund and to designate the secretary of the Department of Labor as the expenditure authority of the fund was also introduced by Blanco.
H.B. 22-10 will prohibit the use of certain disposable food service containers, an environmental concern that Blanco had raised during his previous term.
He also introduced H.L.B. 22-3 to appropriate up to $618,138 of the Earned Bond Interest Income collected for the Third Senatorial District that has been identified by the Commonwealth Development Authority as available for appropriation.
Blanco likewise introduced House Resolution 22-2 to extend the condolences and sympathies to the family of the late Bob Reynolds, and to honor his memory and worthy endeavors that contributed to the quality of life in the CNMI. Reynolds, who passed away on Jan. 7, 2021 at the age of 99, founded Valor Tours, which promoted the World War II sites of the Pacific, including those found in the Northern Marianas, and provided tours to the Commonwealth.
Two bills were introduced by Rep. Joseph Flores: H.B. 22-3 and 22-4.
H.B. 22-3 will amend 9 CMC §2101(d) by requiring the motor vehicle liability insurance expiration to be consistent with the vehicle registration expiration, while 22-4 will amend the Department of Public Safety’s time period to produce police traffic and criminal investigation reports from 10 days to three days.
Rep. John Paul Sablan also introduced two bills. H.B. 22-6 will amend 4 CMC §1401(d) to increase revenues by properly taxing tobacco products, while H.B. 22-7 will provide clarity relative to the crime of promoting contraband, otherwise known as the Contraband Reform Act of 2021.
Rep. Angel Demapan introduced H.B. 22-21, which aims to strengthen the tools and powers of the CNMI government to promote and expand economic development and to establish the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority, and H.B. 22-22 to establish laws to regulate bioprospecting activities within the CNMI in order to ensure prior informed consent and equitable sharing of benefits.
Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao introduced a bill to amend Title 2, Division 2, Chapter 1 of the Commonwealth Code to grant law enforcement authority to the Commonwealth Ports Authority-Ports Police.
Rep. Donald Manglona of Rota introduced H.B. 22-18, to amend Title 6, Division 4 of the Commonwealth Code relating to disposition of offenders and sentencing to provide the criteria for the imposition of enhanced sentencing of defendants for hate crimes.
Manglona also introduced two local bills: H.L.B. 22-1 to appropriate $60,000 from the Rota Municipal Scholarship Reserve Account specifically under Business Unit 2301, and H.L.B. 22-2 to appropriate $60,000 from the Poker Licensing Fee Account specifically under BU 3302.
A bill was introduced by Rep. Tina Sablan of Precinct 2 to repeal Title 4 Section 1709 of the Commonwealth Code in order to provide relief for working families by making them eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Rep. Richard Lizama introduced H.B. 22-23 to enact provisions regarding confinement of dogs, enforcement authority for the mayor’s offices in each senatorial district, and fines for registered pet owners who fail to secure their dogs.
House Floor Leader Ralph N. Yumul of Precinct 3 introduced House Resolution 22-3 to amend the House Rules of Procedure that was adopted at the first House organizational session of this term.
Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez referred all introduced bills to the appropriate House committees for further review and discussion.