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Senate grapples with ASG Retirement Fund legislation

After amending its version of an administration bill, the Senate last Wednesday approved in third and final reading legislation that would increase the number of board of trustee members for the American Samoa Government Employees Retirement Fund.


The original version of the administration bill calls to increase the number of trustees from five to nine. Under current law, three trustees are members of the Fund while two are non-members.


The administration’s proposal states that of the nine trustees, two of them are members of the Fund while the other seven are non-members. This provision prompted concerns from some senators, including Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono who moved to amend the bill.


The Senate also received concerns from the Retirement Fund, whose outgoing board, argued that there should be more members of the Fund to be board of trustee members to ensure that Fund members have a majority say in how the Fund is administered.


In the end the Senate amended the bill to increase the number of trustees from five to seven and four of them are members of the Fund. The other change made by the Senate is that the three non-Fund members would include trustees with experience in the private sector business community.


Meanwhile, the Senate has already put on hold, confirmation hearing for the five nominees submitted by the Lolo Administration to serve as trustees for the Retirement Fund board. The biggest concern for senators is that three of the nominees are non-Fund members, which does not comply with the current statute.


It's unclear what the Senate will do with the nominees as the First Regular Session of the 33rd Legislature is set to end Apr. 5. Unless the governor calls a special session after April 5, lawmakers won’t return until the second Monday in July for the Second Regular Session.