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Fono seeks status of veto override on ASPA budget

fili@samoanews.com

The Fono leadership has sought an update from Gov. Togiola Tulafono on the status of the Fono re-passed bill (S.B. 32-32) that seeks to override the governor’s veto of the American Samoa Power Authority’s supplemental budget of $60.37 million covering through July 31, 2012.

Togiola earlier last month returned to the Fono the Senate bill without taking any action and requested the Senate to send the original bill that he vetoed in February along with certified copies of the Legislative Journals from both the Senate and House detailing any and all hearings which were conducted regarding the re-passing of SB 32-32, and recording the votes of the individual members of both chambers.

In a May 24 letter to the governor, Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau and House Vice Speaker Talia Fa’afetai Iaulualo, in his capacity as acting speaker, requested the status of the bill and whether or not it has been transmitted to the Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, as the next step called for in the Revised Constitution of American Samoa after a bill has been re-passed by the Fono after a gubernatorial veto.

The Fono leaders also point out that the governor had requested information and documentation regarding re-passage of S.B. 32-32 and, “while there is no authority required that such items be forwarded to you, we considered it a good faith request and not interposed for purposes of delay and we separately provided such documentation, as a courtesy and accommodation.”

“In our separate responses, we noted that unanimous re-passage of S.B. 32-32 by two-thirds majority in both houses served to stress the fact that the Fono, both individually and collectively, view this as a matter of great importance to the constitutional and statutory budget scheme of American Samoa,” the Fono letter says.

“Additionally, the matter is quite time sensitive, given that, certainly in the Legislature’s opinion, ASPA is currently operating without any properly authorized budget authority,” the letter states.

(ASPA officials along with the governor had claimed that it’s the ASPA board that has the final approval on the entity’s annual budget. This issue remains unresolved and the Fono has yet to take legal action in the court for an interpretation of the law).

Gaoteote and Iaulualo said in their letter that they are hopeful the governor has forwarded S.B. 32-32 to Salazar and the governor had simply overlooked providing the Fono with a copy of the submittal letter to the Interior Secretary.

“If the bill has not been transmitted, we respectfully request that you now expedite the transmittal and provide us with a date certain when we can expect your submittal,” the letter concluded and noted that the Fono looks forward to a speedy resolution of this issue.

Copies of the letter were sent to Salazar, the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and all members of the Fono.



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