Was Bill 1 also called the Tran Bill passed by the Legislature? And what constitutes a majority vote? These are the questions that the Supreme Court is being called upon to decide.
Guam – The Legislative and the Executive Branches appeared before the Judicial Branch in search of a tie breaker to their stalemate over Bill 1 or the Tax Refund Borrowing Bill known as the Tran Bill.
The Tran Bill received a majority of votes but only with a vote of 7 to 6. This is where it gets hairy, as the Legislature and the Governor are not on the same page when it comes to the interpretation of Guam Law as it relates to what constitutes a majority vote.
The Legislature’s standing rules require a minimum of 8 votes to pass, which is also the required minimum presented in the Organic Act as Simple Majority for quorum.
The Governor has argued that Bill 1 was passed, stating that the Organic Act only requires a majority of those present to pass.
On Tuesday, the Legislature’s Legal counsel Julian Aguon stated that the Governor has a passive power in the enactment of laws and that the Governor’s role is shared and proportional.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Phillip Carbillido stated that it takes both the Legislature and the Governor to pass a bill into law and that the court’s job is to interpret the law not make them.
Aguon further stated “the Governor has tried to strong arm the legislature to pass the bill.”
Meanwhile, the Governor’s legal counsel Sandra Miller argued that the Legislature does not have the authority to decide the number of votes it takes to pass a bill. She also referenced the Organic Act Amendment of 1998 which only requires a simple majority. Further contending that the simple majority of 15 is 7 votes not 8.
Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje was present during the hearing, she told PNC News in an interview, “The Legislature is arguing that we cannot go lower than the majority of the members which would be 8, five would be a ridiculous outcome out of 15 senators to pass legislation.”
The Supreme Court took the arguments under advisement and will be issuing a written decision.