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Veto-override approved by Fono — next the governor, then voters

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga [SN file photo]

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A Senate Joint Resolution giving the Fono authority to over-ride a vote by the governor, instead of the US Interior Secretary, was approved by the House last Wednesday, the last day of the 3rd Regular Session of the 35th Legislature.

With the House approval, the Joint Resolution will next go to the Governor, who is being requested in the Joint Resolution to place the issue on a referendum for the voters to decide on in the November 2018 general election. 

The Joint Resolution seeks to amend the constitution, and therefore such a change —through the Legislative process — requires the measure to be approved by 2/3 of each House for two consecutive legislatures.

Lawmakers also approved the measure in the 34th Legislature.

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has long supported this amendment, telling reporters last December that this is a very important issue, which gives the Fono a say on bills rejected by a sitting governor. He explained that the current make-up of the territorial government is “centered” on the sitting governor making final decisions.

Several senators suggested early this year, that once the House approves the measure, Fono leaders should appoint a committee of lawmakers tasked with conducting public awareness on KVZK-TV and in the villages on the importance of the veto override.

Similar measures on the veto-override have been approved by the Fono in past years but were all rejected by voters, many of whom want to maintain the current process, especially for the fact that the governor is elected by voters, while senators are selected by their respective traditional counties.