By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, in an interview with Kandit following session today, said her Bill No. 334, dubiously known as the Dictator Act, will be debated by senators Tuesday. She said she understands residents's apprehension to the bill's provisions criminalizing violations of statutes unilaterally enacted by the governor if her bill becomes law, and she welcomes people to email or call her with their positions on the matter.
Her email address is [email protected]
Her phone number is (671) 477-2520.
The legislature's leader, who is torn between what she characterizes as the need to impose penalties that deter the spread of the Coronavirus and the basic tenets of freedom she has sworn to uphold, said it is not her intention to see people go to jail.
"The first violation is $100, the second violation is $250, and if someone just doesn't value life that there's a third violation, then my substitute measure calls for a misdemeanor," Ms. Muna Barnes said.
That misdemeanor is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison.
We asked the speaker whether she or the other senators are considering how this will be put into practice.
KANDIT: Madam Speaker, if I go to my dad's house and the neighbor calls the police for violation of the social isolation order, have you considered that your bill might allow the police to enter my dad's house without a warrant, pull me out, arrest me, and throw me into jail without any idea when I will be brought before a judge (since the courts are closed), and that I'll contract or spread the Coronavirus in the prison, defeating the whole purpose of what you're trying to accomplish?
THE SPEAKER: Many of us are looking at that, and again, this is where it's very important for us to discuss this fully and debate this fully. I'm open to amendments. If my colleagues don't want to pass this bill, I'm open to that as well. But we need to have this discussion.
Senators recessed session today to provide legislative counsel time to engross bills that have been debated already for senators to vote on Tuesday morning. The speaker intends to call senators back into session for this vote on other bills at 9 a.m. Tuesday; Kandit will be covering the proceedings live.
Following the vote these other bills, Ms. Muna Barnes intends to continue session to continue debate on a few outstanding bills. Among these is the Dictator Act.