Fono approves bill to establish the American Samoa READ ID Act
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Fono has officially endorsed an Administration bill which will amend local statute and establish the American Samoa REAL ID Act, bringing American Samoa into compliance with stringent requirements of the US federal READ ID Act.
The final approval was made this past week by the Senate to the House version of the bill, after the final vote was delayed from Tuesday following concerns over a discrepancy between the English and Samoan versions of the measure regarding the new proposed fee of $40 for driver licenses.
During the Senate session, before the final vote was carried out, it was noted that the House didn’t make any amendments to the original version of the bill as submitted by the Administration.
The bill proposes a fee of $40 for the driver’s licenses; driving privilege cards; and limited term licenses and ID cards. The fee is the same for renewals.
Other license fees remain the same, according to the bill, such as the 6-month learner’s permit of $5; visitor driver’s permit of $9 and commercial driver’s license at $8.
According to the bill, 75% of each fee paid will be placed in a revenue fund of the Department of Public Safety for law enforcement costs, maintenance, and supplies for the production of drivers’ licenses.
The bill now goes back to the House to be registered in the Fono journal before it is sent to the governor for his approval.
According to the legislation, all drivers’ licenses issued prior to implementing this Act, which is effective Jan. 1, 2019, will remain valid until the expiration date on the license or until one-year after the implementation of the Act.
During this period, all licenses issued prior to the implementation of this Act, “shall be treated as driving privilege cards,” according to the bill, which would repeal another provision of the law that gives the Office of Vital Statistics the authority to issue American Samoa ID cards.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Homeland Security, charged with implementing the federal REAL ID Act which was enacted in 2005, granted an extension until Oct. 10, 2019 to American Samoa to comply with the federal law.
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga informed Fono leaders last month it’s “urgent” that American Samoa becomes REAL ID compliant “as soon as possible as federal agencies will not accept non-REAL ID identification, making it difficult for our residents to travel and access federal buildings.”
Details of the federal REAL ID Act provisions can be found at: <www.dhs.gov/real-id>.