Public Concerned About Lack of Access to House Proceedings

Members of the public are questioning limited public access to the sessions and hearings of the House of Representatives at their new site on the east side of the Lee Auditorium.

Since the House started holding hearings on the administration’s revenue bills business owners have been seeking information from KHJ News on the hearing schedule and how they can express opinions.

Last week, one business manager who went to the temporary House chamber was told that he couldn’t enter as the hearing was already underway.

Because of the limited space in the room being used  by the House, new rules are in place for House sessions and hearings.

No one can enter the room once proceedings start.

In the old House chamber, members of the public come and go as they choose and a public gallery is reserved for them.

Some are asking why the House session is not being held in a bigger venue, similar to what the Senate is using.

Senators are meeting in the Fono guesthouse and there’s no problem with access.

Business people and residents indicate a preference to monitor the House of Representatives where they have elected faipule to represent their interests.

Some have asked why the Lee Auditorium isn’t being used for the House sessions, or other venue with enough space that would allow adequate public access to monitor what their elected representatives are doing.

Speaker Savali Talavou Ale told KHJ News that they cannot use the Lee Auditorium because there’s too much equipment needed for the set up of their sessions.

The venue they are using now is more conducive for the House proceedings.

He did not comment on the concerns about lack of public access to the House chamber.

The House Ways and Means Committee will review three revenue measures from the Lolo Lemanu Administration next week.

8:30am, Wednesday, September 6 is a hearing on the 7% sales tax.

8:30am, Thursday, September 7 is a hearing on the bill to raise dock charges and wharfage fees.

And on Friday also at 8:30 am is a hearing on the bill to establish an alternative minimum business tax.

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