Authored by Rep. Ivan Blanco, H.B. 21-68 became Public Law No. 21-30 when Palacios signed it on behalf of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres who accompanied “Deer Meat for Dinner” host Robert Arrington in the Northern Islands last week.
Around that time, Palacios also nominated café owner Steve Jiang to the Zoning Board, but immediately withdrew it citing Public Law 1-8, which states that the lt. governor “shall act as the governor in the event that the governor is physically absent from the Commonwealth or unable to discharge his duties by reason of physical or mental disability.”
The governor, however, was not physically absent from the CNMI.
During the session on Thursday, Senate Floor Leader Justo Quitugua said the lt. governor cannot act on a bill if the governor is in the CNMI.
Senate President Victor B. Hocog said it is possible that the governor had delegated such authority to the lieutenant governor before he left Saipan, but if not, “I would assume that the signing of H.B. 21-68 is unconstitutional.”
Senate Vice President Jude Hofschneider asked Senate legal counsel Jose Bermudes to look into the issue.
Sen. Sixto Igisomar said Bermudes should also “make an inquiry” with the governor’s office.
Sen. Vinnie Sablan noted that the lt. governor himself took back his nomination of Jiang because the governor had not left the Commonwealth.
That could be the same reason why the lt. governor’s signing of H.B. 21-68 might be deemed invalid, Sablan said.
The bill allows for the establishment and regulation of community improvement districts or CIDs that enhance existing features or create new attractions within a district created by local law or regulations.
CIDs aim to “improve the community through infrastructure investment and creating conditions that attract new growth. CIDs may include capital improvements, beautification, community safety, business retention and economic development.”