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Senate introduces bill to fund purchases for traffic enforcement

Senate chamber

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — An Administration appropriation bill, introduced in the Senate yesterday, seeks more than $200,000 from the ASG “Traffic Rehabilitation Account” for the purchase of vehicles and equipment to support traffic enforcement by the Department of Public Safety (DPS)

Current law requires the court to impose a law enforcement fee of $10 per conviction for traffic violations and revenue collected is deposited into a separate “Traffic Rehabilitation Account” administered by ASG Treasury.

The revenue must be expended solely for purchase or maintenance of traffic control devices, traffic patrol vehicles, and traffic safety or traffic law enforcement, the law states.

According to the new bill’s preamble, the account has a balance of $255,576.34 as of Aug. 18, 2021 and DPS “desires” to purchase three police trucks for $169,500 to be used for traffic enforcement.

Additionally, DPS “purchased a Harley Davidson Motorcycle for $32,207.06 including shipping for the purpose of enforcement of traffic law.”

Furthermore, DPS “desires” to use $10,000 of the rehabilitation account funds to purchase computers and printers for police substations to be used to complete incident and traffic accident reports.

The bill is seeking a total of $211,707.06 from the Traffic Rehabilitation Account to be provided to DPS for these purchases.

The bill shall become effective immediately upon passage by the Legislature and approval of the governor, “due to the urgent need to provide for traffic safety so additional traffic safety vehicles can be purchased,” according to language of the proposed law.

The Senate is looking at holding a hearing on the bill today after the Fono joint budget committee conference on the Administration’s $12.65 million supplemental appropriation bill for fiscal year 2022. (See separate story on the supplemental bill elsewhere in today’s edition.)

The Senate is working to complete all urgent issues and measures before next week Friday, Sept. 17th — which is when the 45-session days for the current Second Regular Session official ends at the close of business that day.