Hagåtña, Guam – Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has transmitted a Land Bank reform bill down to the Legislature. The measure places $10 million into the Land Bank Trust Fund this year and $2 million every year thereafter.
“Our administration has and continues to champion efforts to restore justice to original land owners by providing options for compensation. To ensure the success of this legislation, our office has engaged with the various stakeholders over the last year, most especially with ancestral landowners and their families,” said Governor Leon Guerrero. She added, “The appropriation in the bill invests millions of dollars into the Trust Fund, which is critical to providing the relief to the families it was originally intended to assist.”
“With the transmission of this legislation, we hope to right some of the wrongs of history,” said Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio. He added, “The purpose of this bill is to provide meaningful options for original land owners and empower them to choose the best option for them and their families. No one is required to make a claim on the land bank or give up their right to wait for the return of their ancestral lands.”
The options available to the original land owners are:
- Continue to wait for a change in federal law that authorizes the return of your land in the future
- If your land was returned to the government of Guam for public use as federal law currently requires, or if the government of Guam is leasing your land from the federal government for a public purpose, you can apply to receive payment for your land.
- If the federal government is not likely to return your land in the foreseeable future, you can also apply for compensation.
To fund the payments to families who choose to apply for compensation, the bill contains a $10 million appropriation for FY2023 and a $2 million appropriation for each year beginning FY2024. These appropriations will build up the land bank and ensure there are funds available for compensation. The bill also allows for additional funding streams in addition to the annual general fund appropriation. The Trust, which was created in 1999, has not been regularly funded. Today, the fund has only $14 million available.