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PUBLIC AWARENESS OF TRAFFIC LAWS

With the increase in public complaints regarding police citing motorists for alleged violations of local traffic laws, Sen. Paepae Iosefa Faiai has suggested that the Department of Public Safety conduct public awareness programs — involving state run KVZK-TV — to explain to the public, current laws pertaining to vehicles.

Paepae made the suggestion to Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson, during a Senate hearing early last week regarding the recent purchase of two new police vehicles. Paepae used the hearing to share several issues with Le’i, saying he has a copy of the law dealing with mufflers and tinted windows.

The Alataua senator said a public awareness program will give the community a much better understanding of what is prohibited when it comes to their personal vehicles, and an explanation would reduce public complaints — many of which have reached lawmakers.

Paepae’s suggestion comes at a time when there have been complaints from motorists about getting a traffic citation for the loud noise coming from their car’s muffler, and some motorists are getting ticketed for adding flashing lights to their vehicle's body.

Samoa News has heard from two motorists who plan to challenge their traffic citations over the loud muffler sound. They said they plan to argue that the secondhand car came with the muffler which produces a loud noise. Additionally, their cars have just passed inspection at the Office of Motor Vehicles. Both motorists claim to have been ticketed three times over a span of 10-days for the alleged muffler violations.

Also during the Senate hearing, Paepae asked about eight police officers, who were among the recent graduates of the 25th Police Academy and are now assigned to schools.

These police officers are paid under a federal grant through the ASG Criminal Justice Planning Agency.

Paepae claimed that none of these officers are at Leone High School, and he knows this because he has checked. He said it's important that these officers are present during school to prevent, among other things, the flow of drugs into the schools, especially LHS.

Le’i acknowledged the grant funded police officers’ posts, and explained that DPS is very short on cops and the 8 officers in question are also being utilized for police work in addition to checking on all public and private schools on island.

He said DPS is looking at setting up another police academy to recruit more police officers.

Paepae recommended that DPS comply with all provisions of the federal grant.

SENATE ENDORSES VEHICLE REGISTRATION BILL

In a unanimous 15-1 vote last Wednesday, the Senate approved its version of an Administration bill seeking to amend provisions of local law regarding vehicle registration fees, by adding $12 per ton of weight or fraction thereof, when a car is brought in for registration renewal.

Currently the law only states that the renewal for motor vehicles is $32; but over the years people have also been paying $12 per ton of weight for renewals — something that is not stated in the statute.

The bill clarifies provisions of the law that were not very clear, said Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, during a Senate hearing on the bill last month.

For everyone who has paid the $12 per ton of weight for renewals, it appears no one is getting a refund, and this is what Sen. Paepae Iosefa Faiai declared during the Senate hearing last month after Talauega declined to comment on refunds, saying the matter is not mentioned in the bill so there is no reason to discuss it.

Another proposed amendment in the bill, is for “half (50%) of tonnage fees collection... be placed in a road maintenance fund to be used for road repairs.”

Current law states that a total of $7 from each fee paid for registration, is earmarked for the Department of Public Safety for law enforcement costs, and maintenance and supplies for the production of driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.

BILL TO ESTABLISH “LLC” IN AMERICAN SAMOA

The final revenue measure from the Administration was introduced last week in both the Senate and House, and it's a bill that would allow the formation of Limited Liability Company (LLC) entities in American Samoa.

According to the 115-page English version of the bill, the measure provides owners with advantages of corporate limited liability status and partnership tax treatment, and allows owners — both local and foreign — to register limited liability companies through the Treasury Department.

The Administration said LLCs are one of the most prevalent business entities in the US and all states have legislation permitting their formation in their respective jurisdictions.

The local proposed law is based on the federal Uniform Limited Liability Company Act which has passed in 18 other US jurisdictions.

According to the bill, LLCs provide limited liability protections similar to a corporation and the tax benefits of partnerships, which will entice individuals to open more businesses.

According to the governor, the bill “aims to increase commerce and business” in the territory, adding that local business entity statutes need updating, and permitting the formation of LLCs “is an important” step.

The “American Samoa Limited Liability Company Act” details, among other things, the registration and formation of an LLC; relations of members and managers to persons dealing with LLCs, as well as relations of members to each other and to the LLC.

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