The House of Representatives of the Northern Marianas has approved a bill compelling the Department of Public Lands to grant homestead permits for residents wanting to relocate to Pagan and other northern islands.
Authored by Trenton Conner, the bill grants all pending applicants for homesteads permission to begin building their homes, provided that they have the means to comply with the law and improve the land.
Residents of Pagan were forced to evacuate the island when Mount Pagan first erupted in 1981.
Mr Conner says even before the volcano's eruption, there were already northern island residents applying for homestead permits.
He says those dated back some four decades ago.
The Public Lands Secretary, Pete Tenorio, opposed the passage of the bill, saying it will usurp his office's functions by forcing it to disregard the constitution and other related homesteading laws.