Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a clarification from Sen. Kelly Marsh.
Sen. James Moylan is venturing outside the norm of legislative hearings and today is expected to discuss Bill 58-35 through a virtual forum broadcasted on his Facebook page.
The measure, which proposes a public-private partnership for the maintenance of public parks, was referred to the committee on environment, revenue and taxation, and procurement in March 2019. A public hearing was held on April 3, 2019, according to Sen. Kelly Marsh.
On June 22, Moylan wrote to Marsh, requesting her committee, which oversees the island’s parks, “hold a round table discussion to resurrect this legislation and let’s get some experts on the table to see how we can not only improve Bill 58-35 but find compatible means to make this process work.”
Marsh responded: “I cannot and will not circumvent our Standing Rules by moving a bill forward that is not in my authority to do so. As the author of the bill, you should be acutely aware that your bill was referred to the committee that has purview on all matters relating to procurement. I strongly suggest that you follow the correct protocol.”
A round table discussion typically is used by senators to bring the community and industry experts together to discuss a particular issue or bill. It doesn’t do anything to move the bill forward.
Following Moylan's announcement of the virtual forum, Marsh handed some harsh words to her colleague, stating that she found it strange that Moylan is pushing for a bill calling for less accountability when "all of the island" is calling for more.
There already exists various successful public-private partnerships with the government of Guam, including park adoption, becoming a vendor at a park and long-term public-private partnerships through the Legislature or the Guam Land Use Commission, which is the case at the Fish Eye Marine Park, Marsh said.
Bill 58 states the Legislature would intervene only after everything is signed and executed, with a provision that is "not only legally questionable, but undermines the whole purpose of having a 10- or 20-year contract," Marsh added.
"Given the conflict you created with your own supposed legislative priorities regarding accountability, I would strongly suggest that your energies would be better spent on resolving the conflicts instead of creating more public appearances," she said.
In response, Moylan said the intent of the discussion is to improve the bill or find alternative solutions.
"In regards to accountability, I think it is safe to say that I have been a very strong advocate of it throughout this term, and when it comes to this measure, I am open to recommendations from participants to assure that transparency remains intact if this legislation does indeed move forward," Moylan wrote, in part.