By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam senators on Friday passed a bill that would establish rules and regulations for the CHamoru Land Trust program in compliance with its settlement agreement with the U.S. government.
Speaker Therese Terlaje's Bill 229-36 garnered a 13-0 vote in favor of its passage. It is now headed to the governor's office.
The agreement expanded the eligibility of the program to those who had lands taken by the federal government where they had once lived, occupied, ranched or farmed.
According to the speaker's office, the subsequent public law approving the settlement clearly demonstrates that the CHamoru Land Trust is a land restoration program.
Once the bill is signed into law, all leases issued will need to comply with the settlement agreement, Public Law 35-112, and the proposed rules & regulations.
“We know the applicants who had suffered land takings need this land to build homes for their families and give them a safe place to live. These are people who have waited for decades, and now their children are looking to us to help them get leases so they can build their homes," said Terlaje, who chairs the legislature’s land committee.
Terlaje is also requesting that property be identified for lease and development, securing resources for staff, setting a new standard for the lease of submerged lands under its authority, and passing a resolution in support of prioritizing $25 million in American Rescue Plan funding for infrastructure for housing developments.
“The history of this program is remarkable, and the recent passage of the recent law and new rules reflect the determination and grit of the senators of the 12th Guam Legislature and those who came after them," Terelaje said.
"Their vision and boldness to go beyond convention is what will keep me optimistic and committed to getting leases out to the beneficiaries of the program so that many will have the opportunity to have a place they can call home,” she added.