Televising House sessions, all members to have committees

A resolution introduced in the House today would require that all elected members fo the House of Representative receive at least one committee assignment on a House Standing Committee.

The measure also proposes that all House sessions and hearings be televised on the government television station, KVZK-TV.

Sponsors  of the resolution are Reps. Larry Sanitoa, Vailoata Eteuati Amituanai, Andra Samoa and Vesiai Poyer Samuelu. They are the four lawmakers whom Speaker Savaii Talavou Ale didn’t appoint to any House Committee.

According to the measure, “Transparency of the legislature’s work can easily be accomplished by televising legislative sessions and hearings. This way the public can view for themselves how their representatives are performing and how the House as a whole is hard at work”.

It notes that the public is learning of the work of the Fono through the local newspaper, radio or social media.

“In many instances, the reporting of the actual events is not accurately described by the media and results in opinions being forged on misinformation. Demonstrations, letters to the editor and continuos negative comments to and about legislators are the direct result of the public’s lack of access to legislative sessions and hearings,”  says the resolution.

Regarding the amendment to House rules, the measure says that representatives are better able to deliver services to their districts through their participation in the legislative process. In large part that work is done in committees; members are able to both participate in hearings, as well as cast a vote to move or reject legislation in the process. The effectiveness of each representative is often dependent on how they are able to work with members on committees as well as how they leverage their membership to garner support for their district”.

In addition says the measue, “each district deserves a seat on a committee and this is done through the appointment of their members to a committee”.

The amendment proposed by the four sponsors would add to the House Rules Section on Standing Committee this wording: “Each member of the House shall be appointed to at least one standing committee.

And to accomplish the televised sessions” the measure proposes that by majority vote of sitting members the House may approve to have sessions, hearings or meetings broadcast on KVZK-TV and a local radio station or through the internet on a social media platform.

And the House may by majority vote suspend such broadcasts.

Also where privileged information or information of a sensitive nature is discussed, those sessions or hearings shall not be broadcast.

The resolution was assigned to the House Rules Committee chaired by Vice Speaker Fetu Fetui.

The House and Senate are now on a four week recess, so any discussion of the measure will have to wait until lawmakers return to work.