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$1M for NMC, Karidat, NMHC, Saipan delegation

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres on Wednesday approved House Local Bill 21-48, which appropriates $1,008,630 in amusement machine licensing fees for Northern Marianas College, Karidat, the Northern Marianas Housing Corp. and the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.

Co-authored by Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan and Rep. Ralph N. Yumul, H.L.B. 21-48 is now Saipan Local Law 21-13.

The governor told lawmakers that the Department of Finance has certified the funds.

However, in light of the attorney general’s comments on the local bill, Torres said the Legislature should ensure that 25% of the amount appropriated “is sequestered until more clarity is provided concerning the constitutional question of whether part of these fees should be paid to Public School System following the NMI Supreme Court’s opinion in ‘In the Matter of a Certified Petition from Torres and Ada.’”

P.L. 20-59 originally reserves the funds “to pay back” the within-grade increase for civil service employees in the CNMI. But according to H.L.B. 21-48, “The central government has already fulfilled its obligation to the Second Senatorial District.”

The local bill further states that the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected the ability of the government to provide essential services, and has resulted in job losses.

Many families are having a difficult time meeting their obligations such as rent, the local bill stated. 

“The delegation is cognizant of the fact that monies will be coming in from the federal government, but…we [also] need to take action in helping the residents of the Third Senatorial District at the soonest until federal aid is available.”

The $1 million in amusement machine license fees is appropriated as follows:

1) $100,000 for Karidat Social Services, to support its emergency food and rental assistance programs, as well as other unfunded client needs, in the Third Senatorial District.

2) $208,630 for Northern Marianas College in the Third Senatorial District with the NMC president or his designee as expenditure authority.

3) $400,000 for the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation with its chairman as the expenditure authority.

4) $300,000 for the Northern Marianas Housing Corporation to assist tenants and/or home loan program(s) within the Third Senatorial District, “provided that up to 15 percent shall be reserved for administrative cost associated with the implementation of this program.” The expenditure authority is the corporate director of NMHC or his designee.

 

 

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