37th Guam Legislature unveils agenda
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan The freshly inaugurated 37th Guam Legislature today unveiled its agenda for the next two years, listing poverty alleviation, health care expansion, bureaucratic reform and public safety among its priorities.
Speaker Therese Terlaje said the new legislature must shift its strategy "from recovery from the pandemic to prosperity for Guam’s families."
“This newly elected body must take the progress that has already been made, use it as a roadmap, and apply commonsense and practical approaches to find even better solutions for what lies in store for us during this term,” Terlaje said in her inaugural remarks.
Terlaje was reelected to lead the new legislature after two grueling days of the selection process. Traditionally, the speaker is decided at the party caucus and formalized at the inaugural session.
The 37th Guam Legislature, however, saw a three-way race for the speakership. Terlaje eventually garnered nine votes – three from fellow Democrats and six from Republican members of the legislature, beating Sen. Joe San Agustin. Republican Sen. Frank Blas bowed out of the race.
Read related story Republicans team up with Democratic faction to vote for Terlaje to be speaker “Today is the first day of this short two-year legislative term, and I am ready to work with all of you to make Guam a home where the hopes and dreams of our families are realized. This will be the true measure of the work we do here,” Terlaje said.
In the coming weeks, the legislature is expected to receive the executive budget request for fiscal 2024.
“We will have to roll up our sleeves and find ways to not only ensure the financial health of the government of Guam, but to enact policy to promote the health and well-being of all our families, by providing resource assistance for our residents most at risk, to providing better training and opportunities for the working class, access to better health care here on Guam, and safer communities,” Terlaje said
The legislature's agenda includes the following: ● A safer Guam ● Education and prioritizing our children ● Affordable housing ● Universal healthcare ● Greater access to healthcare ● Sustainability and environmental conservation and stewardship ● Economic diversification and support for Guam’s businesses ● Reduce poverty ● Better access to resources for disabilities ● Combating corruption ● Combating drugs ● Transparency and Accountability ● Restoring pride back into our community ● Reining in government spending ● Continue a reduced BPT and an equal playing field for businesses ● Reducing government red-tape ● Fixing procurement ● Fighting inflation ● Creating jobs ● Resources for the Department of Agriculture for animal control ● Balanced government powers
“As a body, if we are to accomplish this bold and diverse agenda. We must work together in a bipartisan effort. We must place personal politics aside,” Terlaje said. “And we must engage in a healthy debate based on truth and facts to find long-term solutions to many of the issues that have plagued our island all these years."
Terlaje added that more and more Guam families are struggling with the decision to leave the island in search of a better life.
"As duly elected public servants, we must address this crisis head-on and do everything in our power to bring that better life here, for those we have sworn to serve," she said.
The 37th Guam Legislature consists of reelected incumbents from the previous legislature, old-timers who returned to the session hall and newcomers to politics.