Governor Retains the Risk of Losing Snap Benefits if the Emergency Is Declared Over!

On Thursday, lawmakers will debate Resolutions 291-36. Sens. Chris Duenas, James Moylan, Tony Ada, Frank Blas Jr., Joanne Brown, and Telo Taitague introduced the resolution to end the two-year public health emergency triggered by COVID-19’s presence in Guam.

But, prior to those talks, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero reiterated that dissolving the emergency would risk federal food aid.

“As I discussed in Executive Order No. 2022-09, the (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) conditions the provision of emergency allotments under (the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) on the issuance of an emergency declaration based on an outbreak of COVID-19,” Leon Guerrero wrote to Moylan on Saturday in response to the senator’s April 7 letter.

Moylan had drawn attention to social media posts criticizing Duenas and spreading “misinformation” about the negative consequences of ending the emergency, such as the loss of $2.3 million in SNAP payments.

“I’m not sure if your administration is disseminating these disparaging graphics on social media and other communication platforms that misrepresent one of my colleagues,” Moylan wrote to the governor.

“I sincerely hope that your office not only corrects this but also tells those who are perpetrating this farce to stop playing negative games and stick to the facts.”

Hawaii has been cited by both Moylan and Duenas as an example of reducing emergency mandates while keeping federal aid. They’ve highlighted Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s proclamation on March 24 declaring an emergency “for the restricted purpose” of administering emergency SNAP allotments.

“Hawaii has eliminated all extraneous mandates while maintaining much-needed aid for its citizens. I don’t see why our island couldn’t do the same “On April 4, Duenas declared in his own press statement.

Meanwhile, Moylan suggested that Leon Guerrero review Ige’s proclamation and create an order ensuring that SNAP funding is preserved even if Guam’s emergency designation is lifted.

However, the governor told Moylan that she is not only familiar with Ige’s proclamation, but also with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,

which requires the secretary of Health and Human Services to declare a public health emergency and a state to issue an emergency declaration, both based on a COVID-19 outbreak, for emergency SNAP allotments.

Emergency Is Declared Over!

“I cannot speak to the concerns Governor Ige took into account when designing Hawaii’s relevant public health emergencies,” the governor said, “but I can speak to the ones I examine when organizing Guam’s.”

“Science, reality, and statistics have always driven my decisions. I don’t play political games with our people’s lives.”

According to the governor, a declaration of emergency based on food insecurity would violate the FFCRA’s provisions, and she “cannot risk the loss” of the SNAP payment.

She also emphasized that the state of emergency does not have to end in order for limitations, such as mask mandates, to be repealed.

The governor’s most recent decree does lay out the groundwork for the eventual removal of limitations. If Guam maintains a low danger rating, outdoor mask requirements will be abolished by April 19, and Adelup has stated that inside masking may no longer be required by May 5.

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On March 30, Resolution 291 was subjected to a public hearing.

Duenas has stated that he intends to move into the Committee of the Whole and invite medical professionals, Guam National Guard officials,

Guam Homeland Security officials, and administration fiscal representatives to “place on record” any concerns they may have about ending the emergency declaration.

Even if the Guam emergency is repealed, he has claimed in the past that “nothing precludes the governor of Guam from proclaiming another emergency based on specific issues.”