(Hagåtña, Guam) – Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson issued the following statement on the postponement of the Emergency Session previously called for Monday afternoon to address her Bill No. 313-35, the “Unemployment Benefits Act of 2020.”
“I’m disappointed that we’re delaying action that is necessary to provide a safety net for our families and the potential hardships they may face in the near future. In line with the facts of COVID-19 on our island, we realize that our tourism industry is in increasing decline and that our hotels and businesses will see a drastic drop in customers with the Governor’s mandate to prohibit gatherings of 50 or more people. We know there is no Guam law that currently provides unemployment benefits for our people, nor do we have the mechanisms in place to avail to federal funding for the same purpose. The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed with our body that our island does not currently qualify for federal unemployment benefits since we do not yet have an unemployment benefits program. The Unemployment Benefits Act of 2020 sought to rectify this issue and provide the mechanism necessary for our island to support our families during hard times. I do not believe we are in a state of panic and, if we had continued working on behalf of our people, we would have sent the message that we care about their livelihoods and families. Is that not the purpose of public service? At this precarious moment, we must remain mission-focused to ensure the lifeblood of our people is protected. Furthermore, we have repeatedly impressed on our people that we are confident in our precautions and response. Now is the time for us to act decisively and in the purest of heart to prioritize our people. We must not wait for tomorrow.”
The Vice Speaker had previously issued the following statement imploring the Speaker of the 35th Guam Legislature to move forward in calling an Emergency Session.
“The people of Guam are not just those working in the government, but our brothers and sisters working in the private sector, in many of our island’s businesses and tourism industry, as well. By addressing this measure now, we can account for the livelihoods of all our island’s people, all of whom pay government taxes to avail of the services we all need. If this measure is not promptly addressed with the level of concern it requires, it may delay any action we are currently able to take or make it more difficult to provide unemployment benefits for all of our island’s people further down the line. We realize that our people may lose their jobs and that now is the time to take a strong stance and truly put our people before politics.”
For more information, please contact Tihu Lujan at the Office of Vice Speaker
Telena Cruz Nelson at (671) 989-7696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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