House versions of Supplemental and DPS vehicle bills signed into law
Pago Pago AMERICAN SAMOA — Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale, acting on behalf of Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga, signed into law last Thursday, two administration bills. Talauega informed Fono leaders of the two bills signed into law after a review of both measures.
The first bill HB: 37-21, appropriates $12.65 million from unobligated and unexpended revenues from fiscal years 2020 and 2019 to supplement the FY 2022 Budget and provide for an early effective date.
The original bill had 18 programs and projects funded by the supplemental but following a Fono Joint Budget Committee hearing, lawmakers reduced that number down to 16 and amended the bill by deleting $500,000 for paying stipends for board members and $375,000 for bonuses to be paid to certain employees in multiple departments for their work on American Samoa’s COVID-19 response.
And the Fono reallocated the funds of the deleted projects to next year’s Constitutional Convention, which increased its total from the original $500,000 to just over $1.3 million.
The amendments however, still kept intact the final total of the supplemental appropriation.
Asked by lawmakers about the funding source during the Fono Joint Budget hearing, acting Treasurer Levi Reese said that the funding source is the accrued surplus from FY 2017 up to the end of FY 2020.
The second bill, SB: 37-33, appropriates $254,707.06 from the ASG Traffic Rehabilitation account for the purchase of vehicles for the Department of Public Safety.
The Administration’s original bill seeks a total of $211,707.06 from the ASG Traffic Rehabilitation Account to purchase three police trucks at the total cost of $169,500; $32,207.06 for the purchase of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle including shipping; and $10,000 to purchase computers and printers for police substations.
However, lawmakers amended their version of the bills, deleting the funds for computers and printers and amended the number of police trucks to be purchased from three to “four” for a total of “$222,500”.
The new total in the appropriation bill is $254,707.06 to DPS for the vehicles. As of Aug. 18th, the balance of the Traffic Rehabilitation Account was at $255,576.34, according to the bill’s preamble.
The House had first amended its version of the bill based on testimony from DPS officials and the Senate followed suit, by agreeing to the changes.
Current law requires the court to impose a law enforcement fee of $10 per conviction for traffic violations and revenue collected is deposited into a separate “Traffic Rehabilitation Account” administered by ASG Treasury.
The revenue must be expended solely for purchase or maintenance of traffic control devices, traffic patrol vehicles, and traffic safety or traffic law enforcement, the law states.