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  • Pacific Island Times Staff

Rookie Guam senators busy

A break for island small businesses is a first order of business

Newly sworn-in Guam senators hastened to introduce their first pieces of legislation and even teamed up with veterans in a display of bi-partisanship.

Sen. James Moylan may be a legislative first-termer, but the Republican is a veteran of the Guam business community. He found broad support for an effort in support of island small businesses.

A bipartisan effort led by Sen. Régine Biscoe Lee and joined by Moylan, Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, and Sen. Joe, S. San Agustin will expand the benefits of the Dave Santos Act—allowing small businesses to keep more of the money they make.

The proposal is the first measure introduced in the 35th Guam Legislature and comes on the heels of a recent economic forecast predicting negative growth in Guam for 2019. As currently written, the bipartisan measure would raise the amount exempted from the Business Privilege Tax to the first $50,000 in gross income under the “Dave Santos Act.”

The measure also increases the number of small businesses eligible to participate in the program to those whose aggregate income does not exceed $250,000.

“Small businesses are the backbone of this economy but they need our help,” said Sen. Biscoe Lee. “When our best economic experts tell us to prepare for a ‘negative growth’ economy—we have to listen—and we have to act. This is the first in a series of proposals I have to stimulate small business and create good jobs” she said.

“I’ve spent my whole life in the private sector. I know just how hard it is to make ends meet, fight for business, and still pay your employees,” said Moylan. “This bill makes sense and I am glad to be a part of it, he said.

Recognizing that both the Government of Guam and the private sector will need time to adjust, the measure would take effect at the start of the new fiscal year—Oct. 1.

“The best way to increase our government’s resources is to help the economy grow,” said Biscoe Lee. “That means we need to send a clear message to the men and women who keep this economy afloat: we are on your side,” she said.

“I’ve spent my whole life in the private sector. I know just how hard it is to make ends meet, fight for business, and still pay your employees,” said Moylan. “This bill makes sense and I am glad to be a part of it, he said.

First term Sen.Amanda Shelton introduced Bill 13-35, which is intended to protect manåmko' and the disabled from abuse, exploitation and neglect. The bill would provide criminal penalties for the financial exploitation of manåmko' and the disabled and would also provide separate criminal penalty for the abuse of the manåmko' and the disabled.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, abuse of the elderly is disturbingly common, whether it be emotional, physical or financial abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that financial exploitation of the elderly costs our senior citizens $2.9 billion a year. This type of abuse includes scams, forgery, identity theft, and coercing seniors and the disabled into giving up their assets.

Several states already have specific laws against elder abuse and elder financial exploitation, including California, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, and Texas. Bill 13-35 is modeled after these laws and would provide the legal protections our manåmko' deserve.

“Ours is a culture of respect and especially respect for our greatest generation - our manåmko'. When you hear about our manåmko' getting taken advantage of or being abused, it is an affront not only to basic human dignity, it is an affront to the heritage and culture of our people,” said Shelton.

Bill 13-35 is co-sponsored by Sen. Therese Terlaje, Muna Barnes, Biscoe Lee and Vice Speaker Telena Nelson. Sen. Shelton is the chairwoman of the committee entrusted with the protection and care of our manåmko' - the Committee on Higher Education and the Advancement of Women, Youth and Senior Citizens.

Sen. Kelly Marsh-Taitano was officially sworn-in as a member of the body, nominated and elected by her colleagues assistant majority leader and chairwoman of the Committee on Heritage and the Arts, Parks, Guam Products, Hagåtna Revitalization, Self-Determination, and Regional Affairs.

Marsh-Taitano chose a more symbolic piece of legislation to introduce.

“I am also proud to share that I introduced my first bill." Bill 12-35 (LS) establishes and recognizes Maga’Håga as an official reference to the governor of Guam. This legislation is so important at this historic point in time and having all of my colleagues co-sponsor this legislation with me is a symbolic harbinger of our working together during this legislative term.”

Marsh-Taitano also won a coveted office in the Guam Congress Building. "It’s important to underscore that not only is having my office in the Guam Congress Building financially prudent, but it is historically and personally significant. In this building, my father-in-law former Speaker Carlos Pangelinan Taitano served the people of Guam. In his honor and memory, I wore one of the spondylus pieces gifted to him,” said Marsh-Taitano.


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