Sen. Regine Biscoe Lee on Thursday introduced a bill that would authorize the Department of Public Works to hire retired employees "when a critical need arises because of the declaration of a public health emergency."
A press release from Lee's office noted that, "Only a limited number of GovGuam retirees are allowed to collect both their pension and a salary as an active employee simultaneously. These 'double dippers' fill critical positions like teachers, nurses and law enforcement officers."
Bill 354-35, Lee said, would extend this authority to DPW, until the current public health emergency declaration is lifted. The bill's intent is to assist the department with handling $300 milion in military construction on Guam, the senator said.
"Congress authorized more than $300 million in military construction this fiscal year alone. Not only will this bill provide jobs and income for suppliers and subcontractors, it will also help our government protect precious resources and ensure the best compliance with local and federal laws,” Lee said.
The bill would authorize DPW to exercise the hiring authority in the areas of engineering and construction, building permits and inspection, construction quality control, design and analysis, project coordination and quality control, highway planning, highway programming, coordination and control, highway maintenance and construction, and building construction and facilities maintenance.
Bill 354-35, however, did not identify the source of funding.
“If a few new jobs at DPW leads to dozens of new construction projects, that could lead to hundreds of people back to work, and possibly millions in private sector spending," Lee said. "As the government continues to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, we must explore every way to get money back into our businesses and into the hands of working families.”
The retirees would be hired at Step 1 level and their employment term would expired on Sept. 30, 2020. They would not receive sick and annual leave , but they may continue receiving retirement benefits.
“We need to focus on the things within our control and I want to thank my co-sponsors for seeing the potential economic benefits this bill provides, and former senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero from the Leon Guerrero administration for working with us to offer this solution,” Lee said.
She said Bill 354-35 seeks to prevent a backlog in the permitting process required to build and renovate properties.
Senators Joe S. San Agustin, Jose “Pedo” Terlaje and Louise B. Muña co-sponsored the bill.