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Senate draws a line and rejects cell phone bill as “incomplete”

Temporary Senate chamber
Retirement fund bill passed by Senate, now goes to the House

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In a unanimous 13-0 vote, the Senate yesterday rejected in third and final reading an Administration bill that restricts the use of wireless electronic devices including cell phones while operating a motor vehicle except for — among other things — emergency calls and if an earpiece is used.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Fai’ivae Iuli Godinet reiterated his previous concern, saying that the proposed law is “incomplete” and return the measure to the Administration for appropriate revision. Sen. Togiola T.A. Tulafono moved to reject the measure and the final vote was unanimous.

The main sticking point senators argue is the legislation gave no provisions of the penalties or fees that will be imposed by the court on violators. (See yesterday’s edition for details.)

Another Administration bill already rejected and sent back to the Governor’s Office for further review is legislation that sought to remove from local law the two off-island board members for the American Samoa Power Authority board of directors. (See Samoa News online July 27.)


Meanwhile, senators approved in final reading early this week, a Senate bill that seeks to change the composition of members of the board of directors of the American Samoa Government Employees Retirement Fund (ASGERF). The measure was introduced in the House yesterday and assigned to the appropriate committee for review.

Under current law, there are seven members of the Board of Trustees for the Fund, with at least four members having at a minimum five years of service; and three members who shall not be members of the Fund but shall include among them at least two members with experience in the private sector/business community.

However, the legislation proposes to change the board’s composition to at least “five” members who are members of the Fund, and “two” members who “have” experience in the private sector/business community.

ASERF board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature.


Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga’s nominees to the Immigration Board and the Commerce Commission were introduced this week in both the Senate and House.

For the Immigration Board, the governor’s two nominees are Fanene Edda Wyberski – whose new term would expire July 2024; and Samu Tusitala, whose term would expire July 2025. Fanene is the current board chair.

In his nomination letter to the Fono, the governor said the nominees “possess the requisite knowledge and understanding of the role of the Immigration Board in protecting our borders and preserving economic opportunities for the people of American Samoa”.

For the Commerce Commission, the local government’s regulator for public transportation, the governor nominated Fale Uele for the Eastern District; Rep. Ape M. Asifoa for the Western District; Lago’o Aloalo Olo for Manu’a District; and Manu Talamoa for the “At-Large” member.