Legislature recesses without solution; Shelton offers $500 grant to every taxpayer in bill NOT on the agenda

The Guam Legislature spent the entire day arguing about whether to provide financial relief to Guamanians, and if so, what mechanism to use, and how much to give out. Senators at 7:55 p.m. could not arrive at solutions, and recessed their emergency session to 10 a.m. Wednesday, a full week since Typhoon Mawar.

On the agenda are two measures to appropriate a total of $64 million to the executive branch to provide for typhoon relief.

During a recess of the session and while the video feed was focused on the floor of the Legislature (but without audio), Sen. Joanne Brown was seen engaged in an obvious shouting match with Speaker Therese Terlaje, while the sergeant at arms was between them. Sources tell Kandit the argument escalated quickly, and was related to Ms. Brown’s contention that senators should not be taking so long to provide solutions.

Not on the agenda, but proposed by Sen. Amanda Shelton, is a bill that will provide a $500 grant to every taxpayer who qualifies. A news release from Ms. Shelton explaining the proposal follows:

Thousands of families will get $500 in direct typhoon recovery aid under a plan put forth by Senator Amanda Shelton in an Emergency Session of the Legislature today.

The money could be used for food, fuel, clean-up, or other emergency needs resulting from the devastation visited upon the island by Typhoon Mawar six (6) days ago.

Senators Roy A. B. Quinata, Dwayne T.D. San Nicolas, and William A. Parkinson joined Senator Shelton as co-sponsors of Bill No. 129-37 (LS).

“Despite everything people did to prepare for Typhoon Mawar, the disruption to lives is enormous. Not only are families across Guam having to wait in long lines for food and fuel, they’re struggling to care for their children and our manåmko’ without water and power services,” says Senator Shelton.

The bill gives the Leon Guerrero Administration a special one-time emergency transfer authority to fund the aid and two weeks to start distributing checks. But Senator Shelton says it should not take that long.

“We are not reinventing the wheel. Our agencies successfully implemented programs these past few years such as All RISE and Ayuda i Mangngafa (Help for Families Act) which helped get people through the worst of COVID. We are giving the administration the ways and means to help people again now. And, I have no doubt the administration has the institutional knowledge and administrative infrastructure to immediately provide our families with the help they urgently need,” added Shelton.

Under the plan, an estimated 71,000 filers of 2021 tax returns will be eligible for a one-time $500 payment. Everyone is treated with parity. If you filed in 2021 you should expect a check in the mail.

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