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Rota medical allowance bill vetoed

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres has vetoed Senate Local Bill 21-2 which proposes to create a medical subsistence allowance program for the First Senatorial District, or Rota, saying it presents a “serious separation of power issue” and violates federal law.

During the Senate session on Tuesday, Sen. Paul A. Manglona urged his colleagues to address the governor’s concerns and re-introduce a new version of the bill as soon as possible. He said there is a need to ensure that patients on Rota will get the assistance they need.

In his veto message, the governor said he supports the bill’s intent, but due to several legal issues raised by the Attorney General’s Office, “I cannot approve this legislation at this time.”

Authored by Sen. Teresita Santos, S.L.B. 21-2 would task the Rota legislative delegation to review the documents submitted by those seeking medical subsistence allowance, and decide on the eligibility of the applicants. The measure would also restrict the assistance to Rota’s registered voters.

The governor said to comply with the separation of powers doctrine, the Rota mayor’s office, the Rota Health Clinic or another executive agency or department should administer the proposed program. Also, the governor said restricting assistance to Rota registered voters would establish a residency requirement that can be challenged under the Equal Protection clause.

He also noted that the local bill would allow the Rota Health Clinic to share confidential medical information with the legislative delegation. This, he said, is a likely violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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