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Fono ends the special session, announces agenda for one day Jubilee celebration for next week

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale thanking members and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving
Each chamber held their own closing ceremony

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The two chambers, the Senate and House of Representatives held their end of the Special Session of the 38th Legislature ceremony, separately, yesterday, on November 21, 2023.

The House followed its usual protocol, with a prayer service and a roll call with the attendance of 16 minus five excusing themselves, including the House Vice Speaker, Fetui Fetu Jr being held up at the hospital for several hours.

In the House of Representatives, faipule passed the $3.1 million supplemental bill; tabled the $36 million supplemental bill with a maybe of re-visiting it in its next session; and, passed the FIFA-AS land lease amendment, which extended the lease to 55 years.

The $36 million bill was particularly difficult for the House to act on after they received word, while still discussing the bill, from the Senate that it had been rejected, and they (the senators) had adjourned, saying their ‘business’ was done for the special session. Any bill has to be passed by both chambers, before being sent to the governor for final approval.

The supplemental bills, especially the $36 million one, were considered the main reasons that Governor Lemanu P.S, Mauga called the Special Session.

In the Senate, lawmakers refused to accept H.B. N. 38-29 or  the $36 million supplemental bill due to how it’s been procedurally appropriated (money has already been spent); rejected the $3.1 million with the majority of senators calling the re-instatement of the $1 million for the Jubilee celebration an insult; and, passed the FIFA-AS land lease extension.

Samoa News reached out to the Governor’s Office yesterday to seek comment from the governor concerning the failure of the supplemental bills to pass, but there was no response, as of press time.

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale during the official closing service yesterday, thanked members of the House for coming together for the special session. He pointed out that although their duties have been served responsibly, there may still be some work that needs doing.

“But we pray for your health and strength to carry forward our mission together,” Savali said.

He then ordered the Secretary to note the official closing of the Special Session.

The House Speaker also reminded faipule of the Jubilee Celebration next week, on Thursday  November 30, 2023.

“It will be a one day event for the people of Tutuila and Manu’a through their representatives — to acknowledge and celebrate 75 years of its Legislature,” he stated.

A Senate official said the program of the day, includes a church service, and entertainment from Leone High School — the Moso’oi 2023 Pese ma Siva Competition winner — and a Youth group that’s not yet confirmed.

The Jubilee’s original plan was for a whole week, but it was reduced to a one day celebration after the Governor line-item vetoed a $1million appropriation for the Celebration.

 Despite the governor adding it back in to the $3.1million supplemental for budget for Fiscal Year 2024, the Senate refused to pass that bill, and was firm on their decision to make the Jubilee celebration a one day event.

House Speaker Savali concluded, by wishing all a “Happy Thanksgiving … and see you next week Thursday.”

 The 75th Jubilee Celebration will be held at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium, in Utulei.