Special Session ends, Senate vows no more until Jan
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie has vowed that the Senate will not return if another special session is called by the governor between now and the end of this year — and will only return in January when the 3rd Regular Session begins.
One of the biggest complaints from lawmakers, especially senators, during the special session was the failure of witnesses to appear before Senate and House committees. This was especially true when it came to the governor’s nominations to ASG boards and commissions.
Lawmakers were also very concerned with the lack of updated financial statements from the administration that were needed to deal with one of the money bills.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga had called the First Special Session of the 33rd Legislature to convene for a period not to exceed 20 calendar days.
However, Gaoteote told senators that yesterday was the final day of the special session after the Senate had addressed issues presented by the governor, although some of the issues have been tabled based on decisions by committees.
He said there is a big difference with the governor calling a special session and witnesses not showing up to testify making things difficult for the Senate. “We are not coming back for another special session until January when the new regular session begins,” Gaoteote declared.
In calling the special session, the governor should also take into consideration the lawmakers attending, he said, but didn’t elaborate further. He insisted that the Senate has acted on all required measures.
Gaoteote then thanked senators for their work during the special session.
One of the biggest disappointments to senators was when ASG Treasurer Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili did not show up last Friday for a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing on the administration’s $4.3 million reprogramming bill, which is now tabled in committee. The House has also tabled in committee its version of this measure.
The House did pass its version of the administration bill seeking to overhaul the business license fee law but after it went through first reading in the Senate, it was tabled in committee along with the Senate version of the bill.
At yesterday’s House session, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale thanked his colleagues for their work during the special session, and especially for the fact that the majority of faipule made time to attend the special session.
Savali said that he is not sure if there will be a call for another special session between now and December, but the House will convene on the second Monday of January 2014 for the 3rd Regular Session.
The House Speaker called a brief recess and a communication was sent to the Senate, informing them the House was prepared to end the special session, if there were no other pending issues from the Upper Chamber.
And it was a very brief recess — about two minutes — because the Senate had already closed its special session, with no communication sent to the House.
In a joking statement, Savali told faipule that it appears the Senate no long wants to be family with the House, which prompted laughter.
IMMIGRATION BOARD NOMINEE MIKE SALA REJECTED
One of the final measures that the House took up for the special session was a vote on Tuala Mike Sala, as a member of the Immigration Board. Tuala was initially rejected by the House, but his nomination remained alive on the floor following a reconsideration motion.
The vote for reconsideration yesterday ended up with Tuala being rejected again with 9-yes and 9-no. He needed at least 11-yes votes to be confirmed.
The Senate had already confirmed Tuala but with the House vote, the nominee has officially been rejected.
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