Part-time legislature proposed anew
Republican senators have introduced a bill that would give Guam voters the opportunity to decide if they want the legislature to become a part-time chamber— a recurrent proposal that emerged in every legislature.
Bill 15-36 proposes to place on the 2022 general election ballot a voter referendum question on the legislative reform.
The bill was introduced By Sens. James C. Moylan, Vicente “Tony” A. Ada, Christopher M. Duenas and Joanne M. Brown.
Varying versions of the part-time legislature proposal had been introduced in previous legislatures, but none ever made it to the floor.
Bill 15-36, titled “The Citizen’s Legislative Reform Act of 2021," would allow Guam to mirror a legislative structure incorporated by 40 state legislatures. The measure would provide some savings to taxpayers, while continuing to preserve the role of the legislative branch of government.
Bill 15-36 creates a centralized legislative bureau which would provide the support and resources to elected senators. It converts senatorial salaries to stipends and sets 30-day sessions twice a year to address not only Organic Act mandates, but also the work of the people.
According to the bill's authors, a part-time legislature will not prevent senators from holding public hearings or meeting with constituents, or their authority to promote checks and balances or hold the executive branch accountable.
The bill's authors believe the part-time legislature would attract more candidates from cross-sections of the community, as one would not have to leave their career or situation to represent their peers. Whether one is an educator, a medical professional, a student, or a stay-at-home parent, a Citizen’s Legislature would bring an array of representatives entrusted with the authority to promote policies to benefit the community.
Bill 15-36 was introduced exactly a year after Sen. Moylan introduced Bill 265-35 in the 35th Guam Legislature. That measure proposed to enact “The Citizen’s Legislative Reform Act of 2020” or a Part Time Legislature.
Bill 265-35 was referred to the appropriate committee two months later, and a public hearing was never held. The difference with this measure is that it allows the voters of Guam to decide whether they would support a Part-Time Legislature versus just senators.
The bill’s authors have simply stated “The legislation redirects the focus of public service from one of optics to one of policy. That when it comes to your senators, it is the person and not their title which determines the amount of effort they choose to bring to the table.”.
The authors further expressed that “Bill 15-36 opens up opportunities for many citizens to consider public service without leaving their careers. It widens the field of expertise that is brought to the legislative table and reduces the politics in the process. Further, it enhances checks and balances, accountability, and promotes the theory of quality versus quantity when it comes to policy making.”
The bill’s authors said they are excited about empowering the community to participate in the process of creating "monumental change to the island’s government. "