Senators wrap up contentious debate on septic tanks over the aquifer bill | News

The increasingly contentious debate over House Bill 175-37 continued on Friday, with Senator Sabina Perez continuing to introduce amendments to the bill.

Senator Chris Dueñas' bill 175-37 would allow the division of deceased property, or property divided among heirs upon the death of their parents, into up to four 9,600-square-foot lots if they use a modern, nitrogen-reducing on-site disposal system known as a Type 4 system certified by the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.

The debates were often heated, with senators interrupting on procedural issues.

At one point, Senator Joanne Brown spoke in favor of an amendment by lifting a glass of water and adding various food colorings that darkened the water to “visually demonstrate” how water can be contaminated.

But ultimately, the number of amendments proposed by the Chair of the Oversight Board, Senator Sabina Perez, took center stage.

Senator Dwayne San Nicolas questioned the scope of the proposed changes.

“Why don't you just present a new bill despite all these amendments? … This is not sincere, it is just an attempt to kill the bill,” San Nicolas said.

“If you want this law, we have to make sure our population is protected…if you want an increase in population density, we have to make sure our water is not contaminated,” Perez replied.

Senator Telo Taitague said the energy spent derailing the debate should be used to make changes “to protect our people”.

Senator Tom Fisher said 17 amendments had been introduced and asked Perez: “Do you agree that your real motive in introducing so many vexatious amendments is to destroy the law, not to improve it, and that you are acting in bad faith?”

Perez responded that it was an “unfair question” and that she had been very transparent about the bill.

Dueñas told the Pacific Daily News that he believes Perez's amendments are a way to block the bill, a political process that attempts to delay debate on a bill and thereby delay or prevent a decision.

Senator Chris Barnett said it was “the special interests” and not the landowners who wanted the bill passed in its current form.

“Look at this, it's quite clear who is getting angry? We are here to debate and discuss and if you don't want to do that, something is wrong,” Barnett said.

Senator Joe San Agustin followed suit, saying he supported another amendment, but responded to Barnett's comments with obvious sarcasm.

“If someone wants to give me a donation, I accept it, real estate agent, I accept donations from anyone, but I can't buy my vote with it,” San Agustin said.

Perez argued Thursday that developing non-sewer-connected quarter-hectare lots within the groundwater protection zone, even with Type 4 nitrogen reduction systems, would result in a doubling or a hundredfold increase in wastewater loads.

“The purity and cleanliness of our water should be non-negotiable,” Perez said of her amendment, which is intended to prevent developers from exploiting the purpose of the law.

Dueñas said the impact of the measure had been exaggerated.

“This bill is narrowly drafted and corrects a serious injustice to the estate,” he said.

Finally, late in the afternoon, a motion to end debate on the bill was passed 175-37.

The legislative session is scheduled to resume on Monday at 9 a.m.

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