• By Pacific island Times News Staff

Bill seeks to expand governor's transfer authority


Sen. Therese Terlaje has introduced a bill that seeks to expedite procurement of critical medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bill 336-35 would expand the governor’s transfer authority by $4 million under the Guahan Emergency Health Powers Act.

The $4 million is in addition to $600,000 already authorized under the current emergency health declaration and approximately $80 million under the governor’s regular transfer authority pursuant to the FY 2020 budget law.

Having spent weeks tracking procurement for necessary test kits, equipment, ventilators, personal protective equipment and medicines, the oversight chair on health believes that there should be no impediment within control of the government of Guam that prohibits the necessary resources from reaching our shores.

“It is gravely concerning that the government has failed to successfully procure enough ventilators, test kits, and protective gear that we have known were needed since before our first local positive Covid-19 case. The supplies are crucial to save precious lives on Guam, including our healthcare providers, our manåmko' and all our families,” Terlaje said.

Medical professionals, pharmacies and many others who make up the backbone of our healthcare system consistently reach out to Terlaje, chair of health oversight, pleading for immediate assistance in obtaining test kits, personal protective equipment, ventilators, medicines, surgical gowns, N95 masks.

“This bill removes any further excuse or impediment to swift delivery of those items to our frontline medical personnel. This is a matter of life and death,” Terlaje said.

Republican Sen. Telo Taitague, meanwhile, is seeking immediate action on Bill 322-35, which would prioritize tax refunds and advance Covid-19 direct payments.

Bill 322-35 proposes to appropriate up to $20 million in excess FY 2019 revenue – and funds the Government of Guam will receive as reimbursement for War Claims – for tax refunds and advance payments of up to $1,200 per adult and up to $500 per child for families eligible to receive benefits under the latest Covid-19 federal aid package.

Bill 322-35 requires the government of Guam to develop administrative procedures to process direct payments, coordinate reimbursement from the federal government/participating taxpayer, and provide an option for eligible taxpayers to decline advance Covid-19 direct payments.

“While suggestions including bond indentures and loan guarantees are now being proposed by other elected leaders, senators already have a number of Covid-19 relief measures to consider which have been offered during the past two weeks including Bill 322 and Bill 319. These bills provide immediate financial help to families who may be going through their third week (or longer) without a paycheck or less hours to work,” Taitague said.

“I have no idea why the 35th Guam Legislature refuses to act on bills that demand Adelup to prioritize tax refunds and direct payments using every available dollar we have in excess FY 2019 revenue and funds we’ll receive for War Claims that were paid out earlier this year. Getting tax refunds into the hands of taxpayers, and paying out as many direct payments in advance as we can afford, will go a long way in helping families who are struggling to get through this crisis," Taitague said.

"While senators didn’t have to worry about getting their paychecks last week, hundreds if not thousands of families across our island continue to worry about how they’d be able to buy food, pay rent, and avoid having their vehicles repossessed. Senators need to step up and take action now."

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