Pair of Administration bills are signed into law
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Two Lolo Administration bills, approved by the Fono early last month, were signed into law Apr. 29th by then acting governor, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, who is also the Attorney General.
(Talauega was acting governor when Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga left for an off-island meeting Apr. 25th and returned May 2nd.)
DPS PASSENGER VAN
One bill appropriates $54,000 to fund the purchase of a 2018 Ford Transit 15-passenger van for the Department of Public Safety, to transport inmates and prisoners.
“DPS’ previous van is no longer operable and this is causing issues with scheduled appearances at the court. This act solves this problem,” wrote Talauega to Fono leaders in signing the bill into law.
Funds for the purchase come from “ASG - Traffic Rehabilitation Account”, which are deposited law enforcement fees of $10 per traffic conviction. Revenues collected from the law enforcement fees are expended solely for purchase or maintenance of traffic control devices, traffic patrol vehicles, and traffic safety or traffic law enforcement.
During a Senate committee hearing in late March - dealing with a different legislation - ASG officials said there was about $60,000 in the Traffic Rehabilitation Account - based on the numbers from Treasury.
“Due to the urgent need to transport inmates safely,” this legislation become effective immediately upon passage by the Fono and approval of the governor, according to language of the bill.
The second piece signed into law, is an Administration bill which allows justices of the High Court to preside in the District Court of American Samoa.
“This act is necessary for a smooth operation of the District Court,” Talauega wrote to Fono leaders. “It will allow High Court Justices the flexibility to preside, on a temporary basis, in the District Court in order to alleviate any staffing problems in the District Court thereby allowing the forum to fulfill its important function.”
The legislation, which creates a new section under local law, allows the Chief Justice, “in the interest of justice” to designate and assign temporarily any High Court justice to preside in District Court.
During the period of designation and assignment, the Justice “may perform” any duty, assigned by the Chief Justice, and within the duties of the district court judge of the District Court, according to provision of the bill.
Furthermore, a Justice given temporary designation to preside in the District Court shall have all the power of a district court judge afforded by law.
The bill shall become effective 60-days after the end of the session in which it is passed, according to language of the Senate version of the bill, which received final Fono approval on Apr. 12th - the last day of the First Regular Session.