TWO TAUESE ADMINISTRATION BILLS MAKE IT INTO AMERICAN SAMOA LAW BOOKS

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By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 11, 2000 – Samoa News)---Governor Tauese Sunia has signed two pieces of legislation into law.

One bill amends the Environmental Quality Act, while the other authorizes refinancing of existing government debt.

REFINANCING

The Governor's advisors put together a refinancing package that will consolidate three existing government loans into a single $18-$19 million loan/bond, that can be placed for a much lower interest cost.

Advisors expect that ASG (American Samoa Government) will save $400,000 a year in each of the next four years.

Before the Governor can proceed with this initiative, legislative authorization was required. After a long Fono review, the bill was passed with minor amendments and the Governor signed it into law on April 6.

"This bill is one which just makes good sense," Tauese wrote the Fono leaders, informing them of his approval of the bill.

ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

According to the Governor, this bill includes amendments to the American Samoa Environmental Quality Act and brings our local laws into conformance with federal law.

Tauese wrote the Fono, "significantly, this measure allows for ASG to issue air pollution control permits for 'major' sources of air pollution and non-major sources of hazardous air pollution."

The permits themselves, for which ASG can charge a fee, establish allowable emission limits. Violators of the permit process can be assessed penalties and fees.

When the Governor sent the bill down to the Fono, it included an amendment to include "wetlands" in the definition of "waters of American Samoa." The bill sent over by the Fono for the governor's signature has the opposite effect. It deletes "wetlands" from the definition.

"It appears," the Governor wrote, "this is merely an inadvertent oversight which can be [legally] corrected as a typographical error . . .and I request this change be made."

 

FINE MAT TRAVEL BAN STILL REQUIRES GOVERNOR'S SIGNATURE

By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 11, 2000 – Samoa News)---The three-year travel restriction on fine mats passed by the Fono may, or may not, be signed into law by Governor Tauese Sunia.

"I have not seen the legislation yet," Tauese said yesterday, "and I have not yet decided what action I will take --whether to approve it or veto it."

The Governor said he wished to get a better sense of the mood of the people, but he admitted that so far he has heard mostly negative views about the proposal and those from whom he has heard feel strongly.

"Many people feel we should not legislate cultural practices," Tauese said (his Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Sotoa Savali, is one of those) "and when I visit Samoans off-island, this is one of the main things they want to talk about. They ask, 'how can we practice the fa‘aSamoa without fine mats?'"

The bill, promoted by its author Senator Matautia Tuiafono, passed the Senate and House in the recent seating of the Fono.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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