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Senate moves quickly to override governor’s veto of ASPA supplemental budget

Twenty four hours after getting the official notice that Gov. Togiola Tulafono vetoed the Fono approved $60.37 million supplemental budget for the American Samoa Power Authority, the Senate moved quickly with the introduction of a measure to override the governor’s veto, which will require two-thirds majority approval by members of both the Senate and House.

The veto override measure was introduced in the Senate yesterday, sponsored by Sen. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who is also chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

According to the bill’s preamble, ASPA “is currently operating with no legal budget authority” and this measure is submitted pursuant to provision of the Revised Constitution of American Samoa Article II, Section 9, “as a legislative override of the governor’s veto” of SB 32-32 (the ASPA supplemental budget) exercised Feb. 10, 2012.

The Fono leaders received the veto letter Monday and it was distributed to members of the Legislature. In disapproving the SB 32-32, the governor highlighted a conflict in existing laws over grant of authority to ASPA, as well as the ASPA board’s authority over approving the entity’s annual budget. (see yesterday’s front page story for details).

After the bill was introduced yesterday, Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie assigned the bill to Lemanu’s committee for action on this bill, which would override the governor’s veto on the supplemental bill that provides funding to ASPA up to July 31st.

He also said that ASPA is currently operating without a Fono approved budget and asked the committee to make a decision as soon as possible and report the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

Currently, the Constitution provides that no later than 14 days after a bill has been vetoed by the governor, it may be passed — over his veto — by a two-thirds majority of the entire membership of each chamber.

A bill so re-passed is again presented to the governor for his approval. If he does not approve it within 15 days, the governor is to send it together with his comments to the Secretary of Interior. If the Secretary of Interior approves it within 90 days after receiving it, the bill becomes law; otherwise it does not.

Samoa News was unable to confirm at press time as to the last time a bill vetoed by the governor went through the legislative veto override process.