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FONO APPROVES 6-MONTH SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET FOR ASPA

The Fono has approved the $60.37 million in supplemental funding in the current fiscal year 2012 for the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), after the House approved Tuesday the Senate version of the appropriations, which cover the next six months up to July 31st.

The measure was sent Tuesday afternoon to Gov. Togiola Tulafono for approval. Funding for the supplemental bill comes from utility rate revenues, fees and charges and fees and federal grants.

ASPA returns to the Fono in July to discuss the budget for the last three months of the current fiscal year which ends Sept. 30, 2012.  The Fono’s new budget ceiling set for ASPA is just over $109 million.

Meanwhile, ASPA continues to operate using its own budget of $118 million for the current fiscal year approved by its board of directors, who claim that the Fono does not have oversight final approval of the ASPA annual budget.

The Fono is preparing a legal challenge to be filed in court over this issue.

VALID MARRIAGE AGE BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE

The House approved on Tuesday in final reading the House bill that changes the age of both the male and female in order to get married.

The original version of the bill would have increased the female’s age from 14 to 17, while still maintaining the male’s age at 17.

However, there was strong support from Health Department officials and Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs director Leiataua Leuga Turner to hike the age of both male and female to 18 or over.

After it was amended the House endorsed the final version in which both male and female shall be at least 18 years old. The bill deletes a provision of the current law which states that if the female is less then 18 years old, she must have the consent of one of her parents or guardian.

The bill was introduced in the Senate yesterday and assigned to the Senate Judicial Committee for review.

SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING FOR SWAINS TRANSPORTATION

The House this week in final reading approved a $35,000 supplemental appropriation to fund ocean transportation needs for Swains Island.

This funding was initially included in the fiscal year 2012 budget proposal but when the governor line-item certain changes made by the Fono to the budget, it also deleted the entire amount for Swains Transportation service.

Now the House hopes that this funding will be restored. The bill was introduced yesterday in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for review.

BILL TO AMEND VEHICLE HEAD LIGHT ILLUMINATION REGULATION

The Senate approved yesterday in final reading a bill which seeks to amend the regulations for head lamp illumination and color, as well as amending the definition of “license tag” to conform with current regulations. The bill will now go to the House for consideration and approval.

According to the measure, motor vehicles shall not be modified with any aftermarket colored transparent and translucent substance or materials installed, affixed or applied on or in front of the head lamps, the auxiliary driving lamp, or the auxiliary passing lamp or combinations of the head lamps, auxiliary driving lamp or passing lamp that would obstruct, reduce or interfere with the visibility or effectiveness of the head lamps, increase the beam intensity, or that would change the color of light emitted.

Additionally, motor vehicles shall not be modified with any aftermarket lighting accessories that may alter the appearance of the original vehicle from the manufacturer. This is to include any lighting alterations, in, on, around or under the vehicle.

Exempted from the proposed amendments are police or authorized emergency vehicles, vehicles equipped for the purpose of warning of hazardous situations, or vehicles equipped with a lighting system intended to mark or signal a solemn procession or occasion, the bill states.

“Aftermarket” is described in the bill to mean the market for replacement parts, accessories and equipment for the care or the enhancement of an original motor vehicle while “auxiliary driving lamp” means a lamp supplementing the light from the headlamps, such as a fog light or a spot light.

The bill also gives the authority to the Police Commissioner for the issuance of “license tags” to be affixed to motor vehicles instead of the current law, which says it’s the ASG Treasurer.



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