Vice Speaker Terlaje on the Override of Bill 58-34: Session Remarks, June 7, 2017

Buenas, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of the override on Bill 58-34 (COR).

I have been a senator for exactly 5 months today. In these 5 months, the news regarding the procurement protests on the procurement process for Simon Sanchez has appeared in the PDN approximately 10 times. We have had hearings on several new ideas to redo the Simon Sanchez procurement that according to the bills, will save money and save time. The following facts should be highlighted today:

Simon Sanchez has been in the news for unsafe conditions since 2010 – I commend the courageous advocacy of teachers, principals, students and parents for bringing this to public attention. The law authorizing the rebuilding of Simon Sanchez was passed in 2013 authorizing up to $101M for Simon Sanchez and the repair of other schools. This law delegated the Superintendent of DOE, the DPW Director, DLM, GEPA, and GEDA to be the decision making authority as to how the contractor would be selected, the time period that would be demanded of the contractor, the specifications that the new school would contain, and the cost of the new school.

In 2013, the Governor authorized new offices be built for DOE at the cost of $126.3M. $126.3M is more than the $101M reserved for rebuilding Simon Sanchez, planning, repairs and completion to all the schools combined. That office building is completed and is beautiful. I invite all public school teachers to drive past that building, and then to drive further and see Tiyan High School down the street. And then to look at your own schools, be it Southern High, Simon Sanchez, GW, or Tiyan or any of the numerous middle schools that were built in the 70s or 80s or even the 90s. I am a parent, and that simple visual and the millions of dollars involved makes me furious. Yesterday a teacher from Simon Sanchez testified that she had not had textbooks for 14 years. That her classroom size exceeded the authorized limits.

Well, I would like to send a message to every teacher in the public schools on Guam: the current system of waiting, of playing along, of believing that it cannot get better or that it is not up to you, must stop. It IS up to you. The system of leaving decisions that are affecting your classrooms and your students to the administration at GDOE must end. The government has not been able to alter that political balance between the needs of teachers and politics of administration despite years of revolving superintendents, law after law changing the composition of the boards or modifying the authority of the governor over education. Do not any longer be distracted or lulled into abdicating the power you as parents and principals and teachers wield.

In the case of the rebuilding of Simon Sanchez, I have implored the GDOE management to take a stand on the rebuilding of Simon Sanchez by a faster and more cost effective means, but have been told they will not look or comment on any other proposal. They will not take ownership of the current method either, have not yet given full input as to how the new school should function, claiming they do not have sole authority over the matter or the time is not right. This is exactly the response the community received when the million dollars for Tiyan DOE offices were agreed to. No one representing you at GDOE argued that the money should go instead to remedy your classroom safety issues, or go toward books, or go toward teacher salaries.   You teachers and principals must insist that you represent yourselves and insist that your input is heard by your own management team.

And I say to you parents that if the teachers are too overwhelmed to do this for you, then please do it for your children. Tell DOE enough is enough. We are having a budget hearing on GDOE on Friday, at 10 am. Everyone is welcome. I particularly invite all the principals and parents to get copies of the GDOE budgets and ask how much is going to be allocated to remedy what you have seen first hand is wrong with your child’s school. Why were the repairs to Simon Sanchez not begun yet when the citations were in the news since 2010, and the GDOE management estimates 18 more months of construction for the new school? Do not let the only voices in attendance at GDOE meetings or legislative budget hearings represent that new offices for GDOE central staff are the priority above safe schools.

You have rightfully criticized the legislature and governor for salary raises while school conditions remain unsafe. Do not accept that the government of Guam is incompetent at fixing your school or building a new school; that the DOE, DPW and other agencies learned nothing for the building of Adacao, Liguan, Okkodo, and JFK. Help us to overcome the politics involved in this multimillion dollar procurement. Together, we can speed up the completion of the new school, we can save millions and use that instead on books, the repair of other schools, bussing, or in the creation of college scholarships. We can force GDOE to focus on hard decisions and schools first. I support the solution provided in Bill 58 for the timely and cost efficient construction of Simon Sanchez, notwithstanding the governor’s veto. Thank you.

 

 

Vice Speaker Terlaje Seeks Just Compensation for Route 4 Families

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 6, 2017 – Hagåtña) –  Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje (D-Yoña), Chairperson for the Committee on Culture and Justice, is convening an Informational Briefing with the Office of the Attorney General this Thursday in order to determine the status of land condemnation and inverse condemnation cases, to include property taken by the government for Route 4.  Vice Speaker Terlaje is requesting that the Attorney General provide information as to the government’s compliance with Guam laws, which require for the relocation or repayment to landowners for properties taken for public use without compensation.

“For decades, many Guam residents have traveled Route 4 and benefited from the roadway access through the south of the island, but several families had to sacrifice their properties or have had their land occupied, damaged, or devalued for the roadway and bridges to exist. While only a fraction of those families has been able to receive reimbursements through legislative measures, the rest have been forced to take the government to court, or risk forfeiting their lands without just compensation,” the Vice Speaker stated.

Of particular concern, is a law passed in 1994 that gave landowners four (4) years to take action for inverse condemnation, including the taking of property for Route 4, thus diminishing the opportunities for families to pursue what is owed to them.

Expanding on the objective of these mandates, Senator Terlaje says, “We need to reconcile this long-standing conflict between the exercise of local governmental powers for the public benefit and the private property rights of our residents.”

The Informational Briefing with the Department of the Attorney General will take place on Thursday, June 8, 2017, beginning at 2:00 PM in I Liheslaturan Guåhan’s Public Hearing Room (Guam Congress Building, Hagåtña).

For more information, please call the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at (671) 472-3586.

Families and Friends of Victims of Violent Crimes Provide Testimony on Bill No. 93-34: June 5, 2017

I extend my deepest gratitude and heartfelt sympathies to all of the families and friends of Melissa Quinata, Attorney Jan Rubenstein, and Hans Dela Cruz, and all of the other families of victims on violent crimes who have provided testimony on bill 93-34. I also wish to acknowledge all of the families for whom this may be too painful to deal with and I thank you also for continuing to persevere.   I also want to thank Attorney Anita Arriola, Former Senator Carlotta Leon Guerrero, and Attorney Jan Rubenstein’s daughter for visiting me at my office when I was first elected and helping me to get this done. I also want to extend my gratitude to the Paulino Family.

This bill may not heal the pain of those who have had to live through these crimes, however these traumas change our laws and the way we practice law, and impact our community very directly.

 

TERLAJE BILLS INCREASE TRANSPARENCY IN THE GOVERNMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (May 26, 2017 – Hagåtña) – On this date last year, Therese M. Terlaje officially announced that she would run for senator with one of her primary goals being to make the government of Guam more transparent and equip the people of Guam with knowledge and information so that they can make decisions, and be inspired to act on things that make sense for their families. Exactly one year later, Bill No. 71-34 (COR), introduced by Senator Therese Terlaje (D-Yoña), was passed by the Guam Legislature setting the effective date of an Executive Order to be midnight of the day it is transmitted to the Guam Legislature and to the Compiler of Laws, who is responsible for publishing legal evidence of the Executive Orders and all the laws of Guam.

Terlaje stated, “Prior to this legislation, there was no existing guarantee that the people of Guam would be notified of any of the Governor’s Executive Orders. In fact, none of the Executive Orders issued in 2017 were transmitted to the Legislature or to the Compiler of Laws, and none were published on the Governor’s or the government of Guam’s websites to date. The public should have immediate access to any vital information regarding changes in government operations, laws, and rules and regulations.”

Expanding on the objective of Bill No. 71-34 (COR) to improve government transparency, Senator Terlaje introduced three additional bills this month focused on increasing the public’s access to information on changes in agency fees for services, rules and regulations, and operational changes. Bill 91-34 (COR) is related to promoting affordable access to updated and searchable laws, rules and regulations, Executive Orders, Attorney General opinions, and court decisions. Bill 101-34 (LS) is relative to ensuring a public hearing is held prior to the adoption of any agency rules and regulations. Bill 102-34 (LS) is relative to increasing public awareness of the economic impact of rules and regulations.

“Once all the people of Guam can access all relevant information, our discussions will be more productive and the people of Guam will not be vulnerable to being fooled over and over. I think this is a huge task but crucial. I hope to gain the support of my colleagues to embrace the input of the people, and in turn to use the checks and balance of the legislative branch seriously as it was designed,” stated Terlaje.

For more information, please call the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at (671) 472-3586.

Vice Speaker Urges Colleagues To Ask Difficult Questions About Climate Change

(Hagåtña – May 24, 2017) Lengthy discussion took place this afternoon, on Bill 79-34, which proposes to establish the Guam Council of Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency. With the intent to further strengthen the bill, Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje introduced several amendments that would urge the Council to include as part of their duties, review of the impact of federal activities on the local environment. Specifically, as part of the Council’s mandate to “prioritize and focus policy recommendations on climate change resilience, ecosystem and biodiversity protection, waste management and pollution control and environmental governance,” Terlaje’s amendments proposed that the Climate Change Council review issues of military and federal activities including testing, detonations, and the removal of one thousand acres of limestone forest for the live-fire training range complex (LFTRC) at Northwest Field on Andersen Air Force Base.

While the amendments did not get the support to pass, Terlaje emphasized, “These are concrete environmental impacts that we can actually address and hopefully prevent today, including the removal of forests and direct destruction of coral reef, which promote sea level rise, coastal erosion and contamination of water resources. All of these are critical issues that are currently impacted by military and federal activities in Guam and the larger region.”

Terlaje asked her colleagues to respond to events that directly disturb the environment today and ultimately pose threats to the safety and strength of the island to survive the environmental hazards of global warming. She stated, “No one can afford to say this is someone else’s job. We have to be on the cutting edge. We cannot afford to be behind in the information as it becomes available. I am hoping that the Council’s recommendations are going to help the people of Guam immediately and not become just another report that is put on the shelf.”

For more information, please call the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at (671) 472-3586.

Relay for Life 2017: May 26, 2017

Every year, our island comes together to remember those in our community who have lost their lives to cancer, celebrate our survivors, and support all of their families and caretakers. We share in their prayers, we cheer for each other, and we walk side by side in this journey for a cure.

Information Briefing: March 21, 2017

The Committee on Culture and Justice convened an Information Briefing on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña. The intent of the Briefing was to focus on the following:

  • Historic Properties to be adversely impacted by the proposed urban warfare training range at Andersen South, proposed mitigation plans, and the process by which public comments are due to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas on April 24, 2017;
  • Cultural and Historic resources impacted by the proposed Live-Fire Training Range Complex (LFTRC) at Northwest Field, AAFB, the Biological Opinion on critical habitat due to U.S. Fish & Wildlife in Fall 2017, the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP) between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the Department of Defense, and an update on the Programmatic Agreement for this project.

The Committee Report on the Briefing can be viewed through this link: CR Informational Briefing 3.21.17_Final

SENATORS URGE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TO CEASE DETONATION OF EXPLOSIVES IN GUAM’S LAND AND WATERS

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (April 28, 2017 – Hagåtña) – Twelve senators have committed to stopping the detonations in Guam’s waters. Resolution 103-34 (LS) was introduced yesterday afternoon by Senators Therese M. Terlaje, Frank B. Aguon, Jr., Thomas C. Ada, Telena C. Nelson, Joe San Agustin, Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Régine Biscoe Lee, Fernando Esteves, William M. Castro, Tommy Morrison and Louise B. Muña, urging the Department of Defense (DoD) to cease the use of Guam’s land and waters as a training ground for the detonation of explosives.

Introduction of Resolution No. 103-34 was prompted by the recent Coast Guard CFR publication that created a safety zone around the planned DoD April detonations and indicated that no public comment would be accepted due to time constraints. Shortly after news of the April detonations was released by media, the Navy indicated four separate 1.25 lbs explosives will be detonated on May 18, 2017 and no detonation training and testing would be conducted in April. The May detonations are scheduled as part of the Navy’s training and testing activities that fall under the defined Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) “Study Area.”

“The proposed detonations at Outer Apra Harbor and Piti are but just a few that may be lined up by the Navy. Whether big or small, the people of Guam continue to deal with the adverse environmental and social impacts of previous detonation of explosives in Guam’s land and waters.  Until those are adequately resolved, we urge that further DoD detonation of explosives be ceased,” Terlaje stated.

In July 2015, the Navy signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the MITT Final Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS), which defined the MITT Study Area as sea-based ranges and land-based areas that allow the Navy to conduct training and testing activities that include the use of active sonar and explosives.  The MITT Study Area encompasses the entire ocean area under the Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC) and expands the range of the DoD training area to 984,469 square nautical miles – larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined.  Following the issuance of the ROD, a MITT Letter of Authorization was signed permitting the Navy to conduct numerous detonations over a five-year period.

Further, Terlaje stated, “Through this type of permitting the Navy may conduct an average of nearly 12,580 detonations of various magnitudes per year for 5 years, and 81,962 takings of 26 different marine mammal species per year for 5 years.  Even if they say these underwater explosions are minor, cumulatively and over time this is just too much of a burden on our land and our waters.”

To read the resolution, go to: http://senatorterlaje.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Res.-No.-103-34-LS.pdf

Vice Speaker Terlaje states that Resolutions support Congressional action to seek environmental justice for veterans and residents of Guam.

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (April 26, 2017 – Hagåtña) – Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje (D-Yona) urged the Guam Legislature during the April Legislative Session today to support three resolutions she introduced addressing the environmental and health impacts of Agent Orange, radiation exposure, and nuclear testing clean-up on veterans and the people of Guam. Resolution Nos. 25-34, 39-34 and 40-34 were moved to the third reading file and will be voted on by the Legislature on Thursday.

“There is no doubt that the people of Guam have been exposed to these various harmful chemicals and toxins like Agent Orange and iodizing radiation as a result of spraying or being in close proximity to nuclear testing,” stated Vice Speaker Terlaje. “It has been many years now that we have been seeking justice and assistance for those who have suffered from some of the diseases related to these past events.  It is time that the United States Congress takes action on the legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to right these wrongs.”

Resolution No. 25-34 (COR), relative to expressing support for H.R. 809, the Fighting for Orange-Stricken Territories in Eastern Regions (FOSTER) Act, introduced by the Honorable Congressman Dennis Ross, R-Florida, provides presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to Vietnam War-era veterans who served in Guam, and show symptoms of medical conditions currently associated with exposure to Agent Orange in order to receive U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs benefits; and to seeking justice for veterans and civilians exposed to Agent Orange on Guam.

“We know of cases where the Department of Veteran Affairs has acknowledged diseases resulting from the exposure to Agent Orange on Guam and service members have said that they were forced to spray Agent Orange in military facilities on Guam,” stated Vice Speaker Terlaje. “I want to thank Congressman Dennis Ross for introducing this bill in Congress on behalf of the veterans who served in Guam, and truly appreciate the bipartisan effort to fight for the people of Guam from the distance in Washington, DC.”

Resolution No. 39-34 (COR), petitions the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would compensate those suffering from cancer and health issues due to radiation exposure from nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Senate Bill 197 and H.R. 2049 would amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (RECA) to expand the list of eligible downwind areas to include Guam for the nuclear weapons testing conducted by the U.S. government in the Marshall Islands from 1945 through 1962. The passage of these congressional bills would allow those who resided in Guam between 1945 and 1962 and who suffered from cancer or other listed radiation-related illness, to apply for compensation up to $150,000 from the remaining funds in the RECA Trust Fund.

“Guam has been united in this effort for many, many the years through the leadership of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors (PARS), Mr. Robert N. Celestial, the late Dr. Chris Perez, former Speakers Ben Pangelinan, Mark Forbes, Judith Won Pat and many others.  Justice is long overdue,” stated Vice Speaker Terlaje.

Resolution No. 40-34 (COR) advocates for the inclusion of veterans who participated in the cleanup of Enewetak Atoll as radiation-exposed Veterans to be properly compensated. Passage of H.R. 632 and S. 283, both titled the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act, would extend medical care and pay compensation benefits to the cleanup veterans of Enewetak Atoll and their dependents. The congressional bills mandate that these radiation-exposed cleanup veterans would be entitled to the presumption that a veteran’s disease was caused by radiation if the veteran was involved in the cleanup and developed one of the presumptive diseases.

“There are veterans on Guam still alive who have asked for our assistance, and some who passed already, who were part of over 4,000 soldiers who participated in the cleanup of U.S. nuclear test sites without being told of the danger they were in from exposure to radiation. This resolution and the bills in Congress seek justice in the form of medical care and compensation for those veterans and their dependents who suffer from cancer and other medical conditions,” said Vice Speaker Terlaje.

“It is important that our voices are heard in Congress through these Resolutions and that the veterans who served and the residents in Guam who have endured some of these environmental and health impacts are properly supported and recognized by the U.S. government.”

 

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For more information, please call the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at (671) 472-3586.