Fono agrees to yet another recess — still awaiting FY 2013 budget
Both the Senate and House have agreed for the Fono to take yet another recess next week, mainly to save session days while awaiting the submission of the final budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins on Oct. 1, 2012.
Three days after lawmakers convened last month for the fourth and final session of the 32nd Legislature, the Fono took a two-week mid-session recess to save session days while awaiting the FY 2013 budget from the Togiola Administration. This time, it’s for one week.
Office of Budget and Planning director Malemo Tausaga told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee last week that the budget book is being printed at the ASG Print Shop and is expected to be submitted to the Fono the third week of August.
On Tuesday, both chambers approved necessary measures to recess the Fono at the close of business tomorrow, and reconvene on Aug. 20.
“... having conducted work on pending matters and, in order to preserve legislative session for most efficient use, it is appropriate to temporarily recess the business of the Legislature to fully prepare for disposition of additional and incoming agenda items,” the Fono concurrent resolution states.
While the Fono takes a recess, committees of both chambers are encouraged to use the time to conduct hearings on pending matters.
For the Senate Government Operations Committee, chaired by Sen. Velega Savali Jr., a hearing is set for this morning with Department of Education officials called to testify on DOE preparations for the new school year, which begins next Monday.
Velega told his colleagues on Tuesday the hearing is the result of requests by senators wanting an update from DOE on their preparations, as well as addressing complaints regarding the condition of some schools.
This week Sen. Fuata Dr. Tagiilima Iatala voiced concern over the water situation for A.P. Lutali Elementary School on Aunu’u. He says water for the school is being ferried in from Auasi, on Tutuila, and if there are serious problems with weather, then there will be an interruption of ocean transport to Aunu’u, which means the school will have no water.
Fauta said a water tank should be installed on Aunu’u and suggested the Senate question the government about money from the federally funded Capital Improvement Project funds for such a project.
Meanwhile the Fono approved this week a Senate Concurrent Resolution extending “our heartfelt gratitude and sincerest appreciation” to the Pediatric Cardiology Team from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital of the Oregon Health and Science University who visited the territory at their own expense last month “to treat our heart-diseased children.”
According to the resolution — sponsored by Sens. Fuata Dr. Tagiilima Iatala, Galeai M. Tu’ufuli and Lualemaga E. Faoa— the medical team from the Portland, Oregon based medical center, were on island for only three days.
Despite the short visit, the team managed to “examine and treat about 75 rheumatic heart disease patients free of charge, or an average of 25 patients per day”.
“It was unfortunate that due to the limited period of time for this Team’s first visit, they were unable to completely review the heart conditions of many of our affected children,” the resolution states and noted that the Goodwill Mission team was led by Drs. Laurie Armsby and Jennifer Huang.