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ASG leaders meet with federal counterparts at Nat’l Governor’s Conference

Governor and cabinet members with Howard Hill
Source: National Governor’s Conference press releases

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa Government leaders had an opportunity to meet with federal agencies at the National Governors Association meeting, Feb. 22-24 in Washington, D.C. Key issues included security challenges, agricultural sustainability, infrastructure development, and broadband accessibility, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.

Opening the 3-days of talks, security centered on identifying funding, training, and information sharing needs to bolster security measures, ensuring the safety of American Samoa's communities.

Later, directors and officials from agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and Department of Housing & Urban Development looked at solutions to enhance food security, upgrade military infrastructure, and streamline grant processes.

Representatives from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and other agencies engaged on public safety, internet affordability, and connectivity programs. Key was bolstering emergency communication infrastructure in American Samoa.

Also on the agenda — trade agreements, infrastructure projects, and economic frameworks — with participants from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Interior. They exchanged ideas on leveraging federal resources to stimulate economic growth and enhance connectivity, positioning American Samoa as a hub of development in the Pacific region.

 Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga expressed gratitude for the invaluable insights and support provided by federal partners. "Today's discussions have laid a solid foundation for collaborative action," he said. "By working hand in hand with our federal counterparts, we are poised to address challenges head-on and unlock new opportunities for growth and prosperity in American Samoa."

The National Governors Association meeting concluded with a sense of optimism at ASG that they would be able to translate dialogue into tangible results, the release said.


Also on the first day, the governor and cabinet members of American Samoa met to advance discussions on the constitutional amendments of 2022 and local self-determination for the territory.

The discussion centered on H.R.6062, the bill aimed at restoring the ability of the people of American Samoa to approve amendments to the territorial constitution based on majority rule, which in the opinion of the Lemanu- Talauega administration, fosters self-determination.

Legal consultant Howard Hill underscored the importance of addressing issues surrounding nationality and citizenship for individuals in American Samoa, emphasizing the necessity of an internal local process to closely examine these matters. Referring to a successful hearing in January, Mr. Hill commended the unity among the Governor’s Office, Legislature, and Congresswoman in advancing the constitutional amendment process.

During the meeting, various legal and technical issues related to the referendum were discussed, including insights shared by Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs Carmen G. Cantor and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach to address citizenship and nationality concerns.

Mr. Hill shed light on the complexities of US nationality law in American Samoa, emphasizing the need for reform to ensure equitable treatment for all residents. The meeting delved into historical precedents, including discussions on the Insular Cases and their implications on territorial status and citizenship rights.

Governor Lemanu pledged to facilitate the presentation of these issues to local leaders and the populace and the meeting concluded with a shared commitment to continued collaboration and proactive measures to advance the interests of American Samoa and its residents.