Guam Del. Michael San Nicolas' plans to amend the Organic Act of Guam drew strong criticism from Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
The delegate wrote in a Facebook post that he plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives in September to amend the Organic Act of Guam in order to require a referendum before the implementation of any tax increase on island.
“We’ll make it part of the Organic Act of Guam, so we can finally compel proper financial management instead of 'temporary-permanent' tax increases, deficit spending and borrowing for operations,” San Nicolas posted.
The Organic Act is federal legislation, and amendments to it would supersede Guam law.
San Nicolas announced his intention in the wake of Guerrero’s remarks Monday about keeping the business privilege tax where it is at 5% “forever.”
The governor issued a statement in response to San Nicolas’ proposal, saying it “clearly undermines our authority to decide how we govern ourselves.”
She said there is already a local law in place that addresses how taxes on Guam are implemented. She called San Nicolas proposal “an affront to our locally elected Legislature and the powers granted to it through Guam's Organic Act.”
In his Facebook post, San Nicolas acknowledged the local law but said “politicians never follow it.”
In a text message response to The Guam Daily Post, San Nicolas said the local law has been “unfollowed for decades ... to the detriment of the people of Guam.”
The Organic Act, he said, “establishes our limited self-government, and now we will invoke it once more to further perfect the type of self-government our people expect."
In her release, the governor criticized San Nicolas, saying his “efforts would be better spent pursuing legislation for federal approval of our CHamoru Land Trust program, fighting for a self-determination vote, pushing for better access to care for our veterans, and strengthening our ability to govern ourselves.”
San Nicolas explained that the Organic Act amendment his office is drafting now will be similar to Resolution 311-34, which he introduced when he was a senator in the 34th Guam Legislature.
Resolution 311 states: "Relative to respectfully petitioning the United States Congress, pursuant to 48 USC §1423k, to enact legislation amending the Organic Act of Guam to include a provision of Guam Public Law 24-222 that any provision enacted and administered under the authority of the Government of Guam which establishes a locally enacted tax or increases a locally enacted tax must be ratified by a majority of votes cast in a General Election, with allowances for a state of emergency if so ratified by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Guam Legislature."