Fono special session convenes Friday
At a time, when the Fono is in the process of changing the amount of days comprising each of its sessions, saying among other things it is to save the governor from calling special sessions that are often difficult to find Senate or House members to attend for a quorum, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is calling one for the legislature to look at four items.
In the governor’s letter, dated Sept. 23rd, he calls for a special session to convene this Friday, for “a period not to exceed 20 calendar days.” The letter was presented to lawmakers during their respective sessions yesterday.
In the Senate, the letter was read in its entirely before Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie announced he will be meeting with House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale to look at starting the special session next week.
(The current 2nd Regular Session officially ends tomorrow.)
The four items to be considered during the special session include proposed amendments to the “Licenses and License Fees” law; reprogramming of the FY 2013 executive branch budget, renewing of StarKist Samoa’s lease agreement for its current location, and pending nominations to ASG boards and commissions.
LICENSES AND LICENSE FEES
Asked if the administration plans to propose a hike in the current license and license fees statute, the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said “no” and explained the fee structure has been omitted from the new legislation “but will be set through the rule making process so fees can be aligned with economic conditions.”
Another amendment is business “licenses will be renewed at the anniversary date of the business instead of all licenses expiring at the end of the year, which creates a backlog and delay in the review process,” Iu told Samoa News yesterday.
“The license process is truncated to a one-day turn-around — except for foreign owned businesses,” he said of another amendment proposed. (The current one-day turn-around is set by policy and was implemented a couple of months ago.)
BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
Iulogologo confirmed that among the boards and commissions up for consideration during the special session is the ASG Employees’ Retirement Fund board — whose six nominees were rejected by the Fono earlier this year in July.
The six nominees were Su’a Carl Schuster, Talalemotu Mauga, Avamua David O. Haleck, John Marsh, Nanai Afuola Kalasa, and Toafala Iafeta. The seventh nominee, Brandt ‘BJ’ Judy didn’t attend the hearing, as he lives off-island.
Late last month, the governor resubmitted the same names for Fono consideration but they were never introduced in either the Senate or House due to the fact the nominees were rejected during the 2nd Regular Session and needed to be submitted during the next session or a special session.
Also to be considered during the special session are the nine members of the Territorial Planning Commission, whose function is to authorize a general plan program for the territory. This week, the Fono received the governor’s nominations for the TPC.
While the Commerce Department prepares the general plan, the TPC has an important role in reviewing and approving the general plan prior to recommending it to the governor and the Legislature, relying on input from the planning districts and the private sector, the governor wrote.
“The [six] planning district nominees each bring to the Commission years of involvement and experience in community affairs, and a profound and deep concern for managing the future of the territory,” Lolo said.
The three business and private industry nominees “represent a cross-section of our private sector and will contribute their experience as successful entrepreneurs to the Territorial Planning Commission as it develops and refines the territorial general plan,” he added.
Local law states the governor designates the TPC chairman from among the nine-member commission. Additionally, an advisory board to the commission shall consist of seven department and office heads of ASG.
Nominees are Meleagi Siutonu Chapman for Planning District 1; Pua’atu’usa Onosa’i Va’a for Planning District 2; Malepeai Setu for Planning District 3; Gi Malala for Planning District 4; Andra Samoa for Planning District 5; and Tauai P. Suiaunoa for Planning District 6.
(A list identifying specific villages comprising each planning district based on Section 10.0105 American Samoa Annotated can be found online at samoanews.com)
The three nominees representing the business/private industry are Ngaire Ho Ching, Aaron Forsgren, and Florence Uhrle.
DISTRICT PLANNING AREAS AND BOARDS
(a) There are created 6 planning districts in order to provide a basis for regional citizen participation:
(1) Planning District 1 includes Manu’a Islands representing all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 1 and 2, and is designated for planning purposes as the Manu’a planning district;
(2) Planning District 2 includes the northeastern part of Tutuila Island representing all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 3 and 6, and is designated for planning purposes as the Northeastern shore planning district;
(3) Planning District 3 includes the southeastern part of Tutuila Island representing all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 4 and 5, and is designated for planning purposes as the Southeast shore planning district;
(4) Planning District 4 includes the Pago Pago Bay area representing all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, and is designated for planning purposes as the Pago Pago Bay area planning district;
(5) Planning District 5 includes all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 12 and 15 and is designated for planning purposes as the South Central Planning district;
(6) Planning District 6 includes the western part of Tutuila Island representing all the villages in House of Representatives Districts 13, 14, 16, 17, and is designated for planning purposes as the West Tutuila planning district.
(b) Every village council will select a representative to its respective district planning board.
(c) The Governor’s appointed commissioners will regularly participate with their respective district planning boards.
(d) Through the assistance of the development planning office, district planning boards will assist the commission in obtaining village concerns toward village problems and proposed plans.
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