Increased membership of Immigration, ASG Retirement Fund boards signed into law
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has signed into law two separate pieces of legislation that increase from five to seven members the Immigration Board of directors, and the ASG Employees Retirement Fund board of trustees.
The Lolo administration initially proposed an increase from five to nine for each board, but the Fono amended both measures from five to seven. Both bills were approved in the final days of the First Regular Session, which ended Apr. 5.
By increasing the level of public participation on key boards and commissions for ASG, such as these two boards, “we can contribute to improving the quality of governance in general and more specifically, infuse the boards and commissions with fresh ideas and broader range skill sets and experiences,” said Lolo in a letter to the Fono leaders about signing the bills into law.
“This will ensure a wider range of the community’s concerns are adequately addressed,” he added.
In his letter to the Fono, the governor noted his “appreciation for the wisdom of the Legislature in addressing the matter of expired terms of members of the board.”
“The long-standing problem of holdover members of boards and commissions not being timely re-nominated or replaced has been well addressed by your amendment” to current law, said Lolo.
The Fono amendment states: “the term of any incumbent member shall continue after its expiration, except he shall be deemed resigned from the board and shall no longer serve if he, or his replacement, is not appointed and submitted by the governor to the Legislature prior to the adjournment of any session during which the term expired, or if the term expires after adjournment of that session, then prior to the adjournment of the next session of the Legislature, regular or special.”
During his tenure as Senate President some six years ago, Lolo had complained several times about this same issue and had written to the administration at the time on the issue.
More than two months ago, Lolo — as governor — nominated Su’a Carl Schuster, Talalemotu Mauga, Avamua David Haleck, John Marsh and Brant ‘BJ’ Judy to the board of trustees. These nominations have been held up at the Fono pending legislation to expand membership of the board and to modify certain board qualifications.
Before the Fono ended the First Regular Session earlier this month, Lolo submitted two more nominees anticipating the approval of the bill to increase trustees from five to seven. The newest nominees are Afuola Kalasa and Toafala Iafeta.
Confirmation hearings for the nominees are expected to be scheduled when the Fono returns in July.
The governor says he questions whether taking the quorum from three to five members was necessary in view of a seven member board. (The administration proposal was to increase the quorum from three to five for a nine-member board)
“...I nonetheless desire to move forward and if future difficulties arise in regularly obtaining a quorum to conduct business, we can consider that matter at a later date,” he said.
Lolo’s letter didn’t outline any specific questions pertaining to the quorum set by the Fono, but an ASG witness told the Senate that in past years it has been difficult for the then-five-member board to convene its business due to the lack of a quorum, which was three members.
Prior to ending the First Regular Session, both the Senate and House approved five members of the Immigration Board. They are: Frank Gaisoa Sr., Rev. Fred Mamea, Sherry Butler, Moetulu’i Sipili Fuiava and Rev. Aneterea Misioka.
Lolo is expected to send to the Fono, when lawmakers return in July, two more nominations for this board, whose membership must be nationals or citizens of the United States of American Samoan ancestry.