Bill 52-31:History

01/25/11  Bill 52-31 is introduced at the request of Governor Calvo. Bill 52-31 is cited as THE WOMAN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH INFORMATION ACT OF 2011 and is essentially the same bill as Bill 54-30.

Public Hearing on Bill 52-31. Sen. Respicio gets hostile with Dr. DeBenedictis who is testifying in favor of the bill. He then shouts at Tim Rohr who hasn’t said anything but had gotten up to give Dr. DeBenedictis additional information. An argument ensues between Respicio and Rohr (see Committee Report)

02/20/11  Due to the extreme hostility demonstrated by Sen. Respicio at the public hearing, we anticipated that he would again violate the standing rules and do the same thing to Bill 52-31 that he did to Bill 54-30, which was to completely eviscerate the bill of its contents and try to pass an empty shell.

Bill 52-31 (as substituted) is reported out of the Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Dennis Rodriguez.

03/28/11  The Committee on Rules chaired by Sen. Respicio meets to set the agenda for the next legislative session. Senator Rodriguez requests that Bill 52-31 (as substituted by his committee) be placed on the agenda . Instead of voting on Bill 52-31 as reported out of Rodriguez' Committee, Senator Respcio ignores Senator Rodriguez' request and the work done by his Committee, and passes out an already prepared "substitute bill".

There are some major problems here.
  1. Neither Respicio nor the Committee on Rules has the authority to substitute a bill. Section 6.04(b) of the Legislative Standing Rules for the 31st Guam Legislature only authorizes the Committee on Rules to "make amendments to a bill prior to its placement on the Session Agenda." (pg. 34)
  2. The Committee on Rules (as per the video record and the Minutes) does not engage in amending the bill as the Standing Rules would allow. Senator Respicio simply ignores Bill 52-31 as reported out by legitimate Standing Committee and illegitimately replaces it with his own version.
  3. Even if Respicio or the COR had the authority to substitute a bill, Respicio's version could not be considered a legitimate substitute since his bill, by eliminating all the information requirements in a bill requiring information, would violate the rules of germaneness governing substitute bills.

Respicio’s actions on Bill 52-31 is a topic of discussion on K57’s morning show. Rohr calls in to question Respicio’s actions. Respicio joins the call and attacks Rohr then hangs up on him. Later that day during a Legislative Session, the bill is withdrawn and sent back to Senator Rodriguez' Committee.

The conversation between Rohr and Respicio as it aired on K57 with a detailed analysis of Respicio's many lies and attempts to mislead can be read here. The conversation can be listened to here.

Rohr sends a Freedom of Information Act letter to Sen. Respicio, requesting a copy of the minutes for the Committee on Rules meeting held on Monday, March 28.

04/05/11  Bill 52-31 Rohr receives a video recording of the Committee on Rules meeting of 3/28/11 from Sen. Respicio’s office as per his 3/31/11 request, but not a copy of the minutes.

COR Mtg. March 28, 2011, Re: Bill 52-31

video reveals what appears to be an instruction from Senator Respicio to a staff member to cut the recording at an important juncture in the meeting. The excuse of a “recess” is used as the purpose for cutting the recording, but, as confirmed by Senators Rodriguez and Duenas, this is where a significant discussion took place off camera.

(For a full "play by play" breakdown of the events at the meeting click here.)

Because a video recording is not the official minutes of the meeting, Rohr sends another letter to Respcio asking him to confirm as to whether or not the DVD recording is his answer to Rohr’s request for a copy of the minutes of the meeting. Respicio does not respond. Therefore, we must assume that:

  1. the DVD recording is the official record or minutes of the meeting as required by the Open Government law,
  2. the official record has been tampered with due to the portion of the meeting purposely eliminated by Respicio by cutting the recording for the remainder of an important discussion, and
  3. Respcio is in violation of the Open Government law which states that the minutes of every meeting of each public agency" are to "be promptly and fairly recorded", and are to "be open to public inspection", and a significant portion of the minutes was purposely eliminated from the recording.
06/08/11 Maria Espinoza send a Freedom of Information Request to Senator Respicio requesting a copy of all communications relative to both Bill 54-30 and Bill 52-31.

06/14/11 V. Arriola replies to M. Espinoza that her request is not reasonable.

06/15/11 M.Espinoza submits another Freedom of Information Request once again requesting a copy of all communications relative to both Bill 54-30 and Bill 52-31 but leaves off the request for "drafts", which according to V. Arriola, were not subject to the FOIA.

06/21/11 V. Arriola replies and advises M. Espinoza that the requested documents are available and they are picked up.

Among the documents is a copy of the minutes for the 3/28/11 meeting of the Committee on Rules. We review the minutes of the Committee on Rules Meeting that Rohr had previously requested under a FOIA request and did not receive.

Upon review, we NOTICE that there is a reference in the minutes to the discussion that was missing from the video recording because the camera was turned off for that particular moment. Click here to see Page 8 of the minutes from the meeting.

The 3rd paragraph begins: "Recess having expired, Senator Respicio, after discussing Bill No. 52-31..." The words "after discussing" indicate a discussion that is not recorded in the minutes or the video, but was verified by Senators Rodriguez and Duenas.

07/05/11 M. Espinoza sends another Freedom of Information Request to V. Arriola, noting both the reference to the discussion in the minutes and the missing discussion in the video recording, and asks for a copy of the record of the discussion. M. Espinoza copies all the senators who were present at the meeting.

07/07/11 V. Arriola replies to M. Espinoza that "the minutes are in error" and "There was no discussion." But of course we know there was a discussion as per the verification from Senators Rodriguez and Duenas, and there is also the record of the question from Senator Duenas which required an answer. The answer was given, but Respicio made sure that it was off the record because he did not want the public to know what he had just done.

15 MONTHS LAPSE - During this time, Esperansa 1) reformats the bill to eliminate any costs to the Government of Guam for publishing the required materials; 2) creates the required materials and secures copyright permissions for publication; 3) continues to work with the governor's office and Senator Rodriguez to get the bill to the Floor. After many inquiries and much public pressure, Speaker Won Pat advises that she would be willing to entertain the bill AFTER the general election. Since the Legislature pulled the same stunt for Bill 52's predecessor, Bill 54-30, two years earlier, Esperansa approached the governor to call a special session before the election. The governor agreed and a special session to debate Bill 52-31 was called for October 24, 2012

10/24/12 While the governor can call a special session, he can't force the senators to do anything. Anticipating more stall, Esperansa organized a large crowd to be at the Legislature for the special session. With a large crowd looking on, some senators exploded into fits of rage at having to actually vote on this bill in front of the people instead of in the dead of night as they did with Bill 54-30. In the end, the bill passed, but the pro-abortion caucus had something else up their sleeve. Learn about it here