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Guam legislature falls short by one vote to override veto of lease review bill

Updated: Apr 1, 2023



By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The Guam legislature's failure to override Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's veto of two bills requiring legislative review of land leases sets a precedent for island leaders

to enter into land transactions without any public input, Speaker Therese Terlaje said.


“I will continue to push for an override of this bill because without the legislature having a say and knowledge of future obligations and debt that the government of Guam is getting itself into, we do not provide due diligence to the work of the people that have elected us to do so in their capacity,” Terlaje said after failing to get 10 votes to override the governor's veto of Bill 12-37 and Bill 13-37.


Terlaje, author of both bills, said future leases for lands controlled by the federal government will impede the transparency that the people of Guam deserve.


Along with Terlaje, those who voted for the override were Sens. Chris Barnett, Sabina Flores Perez, Thomas J. Fisher, Christopher M. Duenas, Joanne Brown, Telo T. Taitague, Jesse Anderson Lujan and Frank Blas Jr.


Bill 12-37, which would have required a legislative review of the Navy's lease of the Eagles Field land to the government of Guam, was unanimously passed in the legislature.


Those who changed their minds on the bill were Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes and Senators Will Parkinson, Roy Quinata, Joe S. San Agustin, Dwayne San Nicolas, and Amanda Shelton.

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While Terlaje saw the override failure as a loss on the part of the people of Guam, the governor thought otherwise.


"Today, Guam won," the governor said in a statement. "The people of Guam are one step closer to a state-of-the-art medical complex built in partnership with the federal government.


The governor said those who voted against the override "listened to the will of the people, and because of their courage and vision, Guam is getting a new hospital. "


"The facts are this lease is a good deal for Guam, we will lease federal property at no cost to island taxpayers, and our federal counterparts have committed to helping us find funding for the construction of the medical complex," the governor said. "Now that this has been decided, we hope the work of building a new hospital helps us all find common ground."


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While reiterating that Bill 12-37 was not aimed at blocking the construction of a new hospital, Terlaje questioned the governor's discussion with the military "without the consent of the people."


"The intent of the Bill 13-37 is to ensure the people of Guam, medical providers, and the Legislature are informed of the meetings, actions, and decisions surrounding the design, lease, and financing of the proposed medical healthcare campus by making Guam Twenty-First Century Healthcare Committee meetings subject to the open government law," Terlaje said. “If it's a good deal for the people of Guam, there should be nothing to hide. After review of the details, approval will be forthcoming by the legislature just as it has been in all long-term obligations such as bonds and the debt," she added.




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