CNMI governor vetoes drug tests for representatives
The CNMI governor has vetoed a Bill that would have seen elected officials drug tested annually.
The governor of the Northern Marianas has vetoed a Bill that would have required elected officials to undergo mandatory drug tests, saying it is unconstitutional.
In his Bill, Christopher Leon Guerrero proposed that random tests be done annually, with the results made public.
But our correspondent in the CNMI, Mark Rabago, told Jamie Tahana that the governor vetoed it saying the Bill was vague and problematic, and could breach the US constitution.
MARK RABAGO: It already passed legislature in the senate, but was vetoed by the governor. He said that the wording of the Bill is vague and problematic and could lead to some serious violations of constitutional rights of people. So basically, House Bill 18-152 requires mandatory drug testing for elected officials. This came about because one legislature [former] Representative [Raymond] Palacios was involved in drugs and was caught selling drugs and admitted to using them. So in light of that Senator Christopher Leon Guerrero, who is a former policeman, authored a Bill calling for mandatory drug testing for elected officials, so just to you know give them to a higher sense of being clean from drugs. But after it passed the House first, and then the senate, governor Eloy Inos said he is vetoing it. Basically what the governor said is his findings and the government's findings said that the Bill is vague and does not indicate that there is a particular problem with elected officials in the CNMI using illegal drugs and in the absence of such a showing this Bill could amount to unreasonable search and seizure under CNMI or US constitutions so that's basically what he said.
JAMIE TAHANA: Saying there's no need for drug testing because there hasn't been a problem with elected officials abusing illegal drugs, when we do have this very prominent example of Palacios dealing methamphetamine, how is that likely to go down?
MR: I think he gets his advice from the attorney general's office and the attorney general's office are just safeguarding the government from any potential lawsuits, clearly speaks with his message to senate president Ralph Torres and house speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero. He's saying that instead of being the case, what happened to former congressman Raymond Palacios was an exception to the rule, that not a lot of lawmakers are in to drugs. In absence of any study or any comprehensive data that proves such, it could lead to some problems with the CNMI and US constitution, it could open the government to potential losses.
JT: So what's Representative Guerrero's option now to get this Bill passed?
MR: Well he could go back to the lower House, ask his colleagues to veto the governor and that may very well, if they get the override, then we may very well have this law passed.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: