First Session of the 35th Legislature of American Samoa

Monday, January 09, 2017

The newly renovated Fono Building Fale Samoa was the location for the First Session of the 35th Legislature of American Samoa. The polished tile floor, lustrous natural wood ceiling and the traditional bindings of the Samoan roof provided a beautiful and acoustically pleasing space for the hymns provided by the CCCAS Vatia Choir as dignitaries and principal parties arrived for the occasion.

The Fale Samoa filled steadily with dignitaries including Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, members of the Legislature, Cabinet members, traditional leaders, spouses and families, Fono and Governor’s Office staff, members of the Clergy, choir members, the media and others.

Promptly at 10 am, the gathering rose for the arrival of Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga who took his place at the head table flanked by President of the Senate Gaoteote P. Tofau, Speaker of the House Talavou S. Ale and High Court Chief Justice Lealaialoa F. Michael Kruse.

Next was the Call to Order and opening remarks by Speaker Savali Talavoa Ale who acknowledged and greeted leaders from the three branches of Government, Executive, High Court and the Fono, traditional leaders from Samoan Affairs particularly Paramount Chief Mauga T. Asuega, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, servants of God, interested observers and those watching from their homes via live broadcast on local television KVZK. Speaker Savali asked God to bless the new year and the new beginning for the Legislature of American Samoa.

Following another lively hymn from the CCCAS Vatia Choir, Reverend Afalupetoa Uta’i delivered the Invocation stating that of all the laws and rules of man, the one rule to be used as guidance is the Golden rule – God’s Love.

The Secretary of the Legislature Leo’o V. Ma’o then read the Proclamation to officially open the first regular session of the 35th Legilslature presided over by the Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale, highlighted by the State of the Territory address by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and followed by the Legislature’s response by President of the Senate Gaoteote P. Tofau. Following the proclamation, the official roll call of the recently sworn in Fono was conducted by the Secretary of the Senate Fialupe Fiaui. The Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga was then introduced by the Speaker for his address to the 35th Legislature regarding the State of the Territory of American Samoa. 

Governor Lolo first acknowledged and greeted the distinguished leaders gathered for the important occasion and gave thanks to God. He expressed his thankfulness to the people of American Samoa and the democratic process that brought everyone together on this special day.  Governor Lolo spoke about collective aspirations to serve to the Government and the Territory of American Samoa; and then of his presence at the Fono to inform the Legislature of the current state of the Government of American Samoa. The Governor began by saying that although 2016 was a difficult year with all entailed in a campaign year, because of the cooperative effort between the Fono and the Administration, revenues have improved progressively since 2013 and unemployment has steadily decreased. However Governor Lolo explained that because of many new infrastructure projects developments and other priorities there has also been increased spending in order to meet the needs of the people. He continued that although there has been positive growth, there is some future uncertainty regarding the new U.S. government and economical changes in the world beyond our control. The Governor expressed his hopes that a good relationship can be fostered with the new federal government and requested patience, continuing to work together and reliance on God for the benefit of the people of American Samoa.

Next was the response from the Fono delivered by Senate President Gaoteote P.  Tofau, who first acknowledged and greeted all in attendance and added that he was inspired by Governor Lolo’s words.  He thanked God for His kindness and for the opportunity to represent the Fono at the momentous occasion.  He asked the gathering for a round of applause in appreciation of the re-election of Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga. The Senate President cited some of the accomplishments of the Administration such as the MV Manu’atele, the Territorial Bank of American Samoa (TBAS) and other numerous projects as substantiation of the commitment to the people of American Samoa.  Looking to the future, the Senate President asked that the Fono be utilized as a partner moving forward for the betterment of the Territory.

After another song from the choir, Speaker of the House Savali Talavou Ale made final announcements after first thanking the dignitaries for honoring the day. He then stated that the Legislature was ready to begin business and advised appointed cabinet members to be prepared for upcoming confirmation hearings.  He informed that the Fono would convene the next morning at 10 AM to work for next 45 legislative days.