25 May 2010

Unicameral debate in American Samoa nears end

3:05 pm on 25 May 2010

Proposals for a single chamber legislature in American Samoa will be on the agenda of next month's forum on constitutional change.

The Constitutional Convention will discuss a plan for a single Senate to be made up of 30 members, half selected by traditional leaders or matai and the remainder elected by popular vote.

At present American Samoa has two houses - the Senate, a grouping of selected chiefs, and the House of Representatives, popularly elected.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says some lawmakers feel a single chamber might not encourage a thorough review of legislation as at present.

"Because the members of the Senate are traditional chiefs, that sometimes stifles forthright debate on issues, because of respect of members of the House to members of the Senate. They think that having both house senators and lawmakers who don't have titles sit in the same chamber, that there won't be that open discussion."

Monica Miller in Pago Pago