Fono in Review
FIRST FONO SESSION ENDS
The First Regular Session of the 33rd Legislature ended yesterday and unless the governor calls for a special session, lawmakers won’t return until the second Monday of July as required by law.
Among the issues addressed by the Fono in the last days of the first session was the Administration’s $5 million supplemental appropriation bill, which was approved and sent to the governor for his review and approval.
Before final approval, the Fono amended the bill by taking $100,000 from the $300,000 initially proposed for DOE school maintenance and supplies and set that money aside for repairs to the MV Sili, which is expected to go up on the slipway at the shipyard sometime later next week, depending on availability at the slipway.
There are some 21 projects and programs funded under the supplemental bill, which has four different funding sources.
Also this week the Fono approved two amended versions of administration legislation, increasing the number of members for the ASG Employees Retirement Fund board of trustees, as well as the Immigration Board. These two measures are also being sent to the governor for review and approval.
Perhaps the most pressing issue from the administration addressed by the Fono during the first session is the confirmation of cabinet directors. All but two gained the Fono's support, and those two were both approved by the House, but failed to gain full support in the Senate.
The pair are Territorial Energy Office appointee Timothy Jones and Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs appointee Pa’u Roy Ausage. There is no indication from the governor’s office as to whether the two nominees will be resubmitted in July or new nominations will be made.
HOUSE ASPA/TEO COMMITTEE MEETS ON ASPA NEXT THURSDAY
Although the Fono’s First Regular Session officially ended yesterday, the House ASPA/TEO Committee is convening a hearing next Thursday to receive verbal testimonies from the American Samoa Power Authority chief executive officer Utu Abe Malae, regarding new employees hired recently, among other things.
At yesterday’s House session, committee chairman Rep. Puletu Dick Koko explained that he has received reports that ASPA has recruited new workers, but the question remains as to how these positions are being funded since the ASPA FY 2013 is already in place.
House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale commended the chairman for bringing this important issue before the House chamber, saying that although the Fono will be in recess, committee work can still continue and suggested holding a hearing as soon as possible.
Puletu then scheduled for Thursday a hearing and requested ASPA to provide a report outlining the total number of new hirees, source of funding for their positions, as well as their pay scale. He also requested a status report on the Solid Waste division.
ASPA board chairman Fonoti Perelini Perelini Sr. told a Senate committee on Thursday that solid waste collection remains within ASPA; however, certain areas of the island have been outsourced to the private sector, which has the right equipment for these areas, which ASPA does not.