HOUSE CONCERNED BY EFFECTS OF FED SHUTDOWN
Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai told his colleagues yesterday that the federal shutdown affecting many local government workers whose salaries are paid by federal money is an issue of concern to everyone.
He said lawmakers received on Tuesday the governor’s memo regarding this important issue about the employees who are being furloughed and that a House committee should start looking into ways the local government can assist these furloughed workers, as no one knows when the federal shutdown will be lifted.
Taotasi said some of the affected departments and their employees provide important services to the community. For example, he said, the Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS) and its entities, such as the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office, which oversees the Emergency Operations Center that plays a vital role in times of disaster.
(ASDHS’ fiscal year 2014 budget of $5.23 million is funded with $4.33 million in federal grants, which help to pay the salaries of 38 employees.)
Taotasi acknowledged this is a special session called by the governor to debate and vote on certain issues; however, he believes it’s important the House also look at ways to assist the furloughed ASG workforce.
Rep. Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava agreed with Taotasi’s concerns, saying he is also requesting a House committee look into this important matter.
House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale agreed, saying he plans to discuss it with the Senate leadership while keeping a close watch on the developments in Washington D.C. and staying in close contact with the governor’s office.
HOUSE CONFIRMS SEVEN NOMINEES OF TPC BOARD
The House yesterday approved seven of the nine nominees to the Territorial Planning Commission. Nominees Meleagi Siutonu Chapman and Ngaire Ho Ching didn’t make it to last week’s House confirmation hearing and House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Talia Fa’afetai Iaulualo said there was no communication from Ho Ching, and Chapman is off island.
The seven confirmed by the House are Florence Uhrle and Tauai P. Suiaunoa with 18-1 votes each; Malepeai Setu, Gi Malala and Aaron Forsgren each with a 16-2 vote; Andra Samoa with a 16-3 vote; and Pua’atu’ua Onosa’i Va’a by a 15-4 vote.
The nominees are scheduled to appear today before the Senate Economic Development Committee for their confirmation hearing, followed by the committee’s review of an administration bill deleting the current business license and fees statute and setting these fees by the rule-making process overseen by the Commerce Department.
LAWMAKERS REQUEST HOUSE COMMITTEE FOR FINANCIAL REPORT
During yesterday’s House session, Rep. Pulele’iite Liamatua Tufele pointed out that while the House had already approved the administration’s $4.3 million reprogram bill, there is still a need to get updated financial reports from ASG.
He says he appreciates the good news — the government is expecting to have a balanced budget at the end of fiscal year 2013 — but the bill shows certain departments and agencies are projected to have budget overruns in FY 2013.
Pulele’iite requested that the House Budget and Appropriations Committee obtain complete financial details from ASG so when the 3rd Regular Session starts in January the numbers are available for review.
House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale agreed and called on the committee to look into this request.
ASG’s most updated financial reports for FY 2013 were not available to the House during its review of the reprogramming bill early this week.
The House version of the bill was introduced in the Senate yesterday with a hearing set for tomorrow by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Committee chairman Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao said the committee will focus on the House version since it was already passed by faipule.
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