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  • By Pacific Iland Times News Staff

Bill revisits proposal to set limits on senators' term

Telo Taitague

Sen. Telo Taitague has filed a bill proposing a three consecutive-term limit for members of the Guam Legislature.

In filing Bill 54-30, Taitague said having a term limit would “help senators focus their limited time carrying out the most important responsibilities of the legislature.”

“Knowing we only have two, four, or six years at best to turn good ideas into public policy, I believe senators will use their time more efficiently and effectively – and less on resolution presentations, civil weddings, travel, and similar activities,” Taitague said.

She noted that the legislature’s priority tasks include approving a government budget, conducting oversight, and proposing legislation.

A member of the legislature serves two years each term. And currently, there are no term limits, allowing a senator to run as many times as he or she desires and stay in office as long as he or she gets reelected. Some of them turn the legislative job into a fulltime career.

A press release from Taitague’s office said Bill 54-30 is a revisit of previous discussions on term limits, “an issue debated by senators most recently during the 32nd and 34th Guam Legislatures.”

In 2013, a bill was introduced in the 32nd Legislature proposing to extend the term of senators from two to four years, and prohibit senators from serving a subsequent term until one full four-year term has intervened.

Guam Legislature

In 2017, another bill was filed in the 34th Legislature proposing to extend the term of senators from two to four years on a staggered basis, provided that an individual shall not serve more than three terms on a consecutive basis.

“On the question of whether or not term limit legislation is inorganic, the Attorney General of Guam issued an opinion in 2013 advising the Guam Legislature to follow the more conservative approach on the issue – acknowledging this subject of debate as a qualification for legislative office established by the Organic Act of Guam which cannot be changed, added to, or diminished without congressional action,” states a press release from Taitague’s office,

Taitague said Bill 54 will “help clarify once and for all if the Guam Legislature has the authority to establish term limits for senators.”

Section 1423(d) of the Organic Act of Guam states that “the [Guam] legislature in all respects shall be organized and shall sit according to the laws of Guam.”

According to a 1952 Opinion from the Attorney General of Guam concerning a proposal by the Guam Legislature to provide for four-year terms on a staggered basis, “the [Organic] Act does not specify with certainty either the number of legislators, or their terms, but, in Section 10, provides merely for a single house of not more than 21 members, and for general elections biannually in even numbered years. The Legislature is clearly given the right to exercise discretion as to how many members it shall have within the set maximum. By implication, it can further be held that the Legislature has the right to exercise similar discretion in determining the term for which its members shall hold office.”

“Bill 54 is one of the legislative reform proposals I’ll be pushing forward in the weeks and months ahead. Establishing term limits for senators is just one of several ways we can help dismantle the system that supports career politicians,” Taitague said. “Until then, to become a senator remains highly competitive if not impossible for people who aren’t well funded or don’t have the right last name or family connections. And to have none of these, I’m beyond blessed for the trust and confidence the people of Guam have placed in me.”

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