THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
Monday July 27, 2015
- Five Contenders for Pohnpei’s ED 3 in Congress
- Special Session Seats At-Large Winners, Joins Inaugural Ceremonies
- Congress Confirms Chief Justice, UN Representative Among Others
- Measures of the First Special Session of the 19th FSM Congress
Five Contenders for Pohnpei’s ED3 in Congress
On July 24 2015, the Office of the National Elections Directors transmitted to the National Government leadership the names of the candidates for the upcoming Special Election to Pohnpei State’s vacant seat for election district 3 in the 19th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia.
Accordingly, the following names have gone through the clearance process and will be on the ballots for the August 26 2105, National Special Election:
- Esmond B.Moses
- Leon A Senda
- Norbert J. Rodriguez
- Rayner Jim
- Wayne H. Mendiola
The seat was vacated when former occupant Senator David W. Panuelo won the July Special Election for Pohnpei’s at-large representative in the 19th Congress.
Congress Election District 3 represents the State of Pohnpei municipal governments of:
Nett, U, Mwoakilloah and Pingelap.
The winner of the special election therefore, would be among the two-year representative at the national legislative Body.
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Special Session Seats At-Large Winners, Join Inaugural Ceremonies
On July 7 2015, the 19th Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia convened for its First Special Session to address legislative matters pending before the Body and to also seat the winners of the National Special Elections in July in the States of Kosrae and Pohnpei.
Senator Alik L. Alik from the State of Kosrae was seated to the at-Large or four-year seat vacated by the election of Yosiwo P. George to the Vice Presidency, while Senator David W. Panuelo of Pohnpei was seated to the at-Large or four year seat vacated by the election of Peter M. Christian to the Presidency.
While the two new Members were sworn in the first day of session, they joined the rest of the 19th Congress Members to take part in the ceremonies for the Joint National Inauguration that took place from July 9 through 10 in Pohnpei.
On July 9, Members along with the President Peter M. Christian and Vice President Yosiwo P. George participated in the interdenominational mass held at the Pohnpei Our Lady of Mercy Church in Kolonia.
The next day July 10, leadership from the region and beyond, along with families and friends gathered in Palikir to celebrate the National Government Joint Inauguration outside the Congress Chamber in Palikir.
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Congress Confirms Chief Justice, UN Representative Among Others
The First Special Session of the 19th Congress adjourned on July 18 with the confirmation of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Nation’s representative to the United Nations among other nominations from the President.
Congressional Resolution (CR) 19-28, confirmed Dennis K. Yamase to serve as the Chief Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia, a post vacated by the passing of the former occupant in August 2014. Yamase’s background encompasses the judiciary and legislative fields across the Micronesian region from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands to the Republic of Palau. The most years were however spent in the FSM where he served 6 years as a legal counsel to Congress and over 11 years as an Associate Justice for the FSM Supreme Court.
CR 19-44, confirmed Jane J. Chigiyal to maintain her post as the Permanent Representative of the FSM to the United Nation. While Chigiyal was posted to the UN in 2011, she had amassed extensive experience in diplomacy and understanding of foreign affairs throughout the various roles and capacities she served in the Department since June 1991.
Congress confirmed Kalwin Kephas in CR 19-18, to serve as the Secretary of the FSM Department of Education. Kephas had served various capacities in education both with administration and teaching at all three levels of education, primary, secondary and post-secondary. He had held the post of the Dean of the College of Micronesia – Kosrae Campus when nominated.
Through CR 19-26, Congress confirmed Lukner B. Weilbacher to serve as the Secretary for the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure. Along with his broad-range of technical background and working experience in the area of marine transportation, Weilbacher had previously served in the same Secretary capacity during a previous administration.
Congress confirmed Sihna N. Lawrence through CR 19-24 to serve as the Secretary for the Department of Finance and Administration for the Government of the FSM. Lawrence has over 30 years of working experience in the financial realm having held varying financial roles at both the national government, especially the Department of Finance and Administration. Prior to her nomination, she was the Chief Financial Officer of the FSM Development Bank, a position she held for 14 years.
One nomination for board membership was confirmed this special session. Through CR 19-35, Congress confirmed Ricky F. Cantero to be the national government’s representative on the Board of Directors for the FSM Telecommunications Corporation.
And finally, Title 2 of the FSM Code section 207 states that the President shall not resubmit the nomination of a person to same Congress that rejected the nomination. Congress therefore adopted CR 19-67, to authorize the President to resubmit the nomination of Ginger Virginia Porter Mida to serve as the Postmaster General of the FSM.
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Measures of First Special Session of Nineteenth FSM Congress
Among the congressional measures passed during the First Special Session of the 19th Congress is an Act for improvement of airport terminal facilities in the four states. Congress passed Congressional Act (CA) 19-11, to change lapse dates of certain funds previously appropriated to fund airport facilities improvement and upgrading of equipment of the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) buildings in the states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.
Congress also passed CA 19-20, to appropriate a supplemental budget of $593,396 to change the conditions of certain funds therein.
In accordance with the terms set forth in Title 55, section 1401 of the FSM Code, the Congress had, through CA 19-23, authorized the President to enter into negotiation with the State of Pohnpei for the purpose of guaranteeing a loan from the Asian Development Bank for the Pohnpei Port Authority.
Congress also passed CA 19-21, to extend for the Purse Seiner Vessels the deadline for applicability of the Shark Law or Title 24 of the FSM Code, subsection 913(4)(b) to September 30, 2015.
In its continuing efforts to assist the cash-strapped states the Congress has, through CA 19-22, appropriated the sum of $2.8 million to fund public projects and social programs in the four states. Apportioned per population, the funding is as followed: $400,000 to the State of Yap, $300,000 to the State of Kosrae, $800,000 to the State of Pohnpei and the remaining $1,200,000 to the State of Chuuk.
Along the same vein of assistance to the state governments, the Congress made various amendments to previously funded public projects and social programs in all four states to either change the use of funds or change the allottee of funds. Those amendments were made to CA 19-07 through CA 19-08.
In addition to the Congressional Acts, Congress adopted 33 Congressional Resolutions during its First Special Session. The resolutions were adopted by Congress during its First Special Session, most of which were for the various health and social services funded through federal grants from the United States as made available to the Nation through the Department of Health and Social Affairs. Along with the grants were seven resolutions confirming the President’s nominations to various positions at the Executive Branch, the Judiciary Branch and posts overseas.
In addition to the President’s nominees for his offices, Congress also adopted Congressional Resolution (CR) 19-61, to express the sadness and condolences of the 19th Congress for the untimely passing of long time Director of the Office of the Public Defender for the Nation, Julius Joey Sapelalut.
Congress also congratulated, through CR 19-64, the winners of the July 9 Law Day Debate: Pursus Malia Taneisha S. Timothy and Amy G. Ismael of Kosrae High School.
In the aftermath of Typhoon Maysak’s sweeping devastation across the Nation in May 2015, the 19th Congress expressed its sincere appreciation and heartfelt gratitude through
CR 19-50, to the Government of Australia for its swift outreach, response and urgently needed assistance, which included monetary donations, food, water, clothing and medicine for the States of Chuuk and Yap;
CR 19-54, to the Government of Japan for its swift outreach, response and urgently needed assistance, which included goods equivalent to 11 million yen, for the States of Chuuk and Yap;
CR 19-55, to the Government of China for its swift outreach, response and urgently needed assistance, which included $500,000, for the States of Chuuk and Yap; and
CR 19-60, to the Government of the Republic of Palau for its swift outreach, response and urgently needed assistance, which included monetary assistance of $75,000, for the States of Chuuk and Yap.
Through CR 19-65, the Congress expressed its sincere gratitude and appreciation of the entire Nation to the United States Pacific Fleet for its sponsorship of the 2015 Pacific Partnership program which extended various humanitarian, medical, dental, veterinarian, and engineering assistance to the people throughout the FSM during the months of June – July 2015.
Congress had also adopted CR 19-58, to commend the Supreme Court of United States for reaffirming equal treatment before the law, a value that is shared by the Federated States of Micronesia, in the recent decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
The other two none-grant related resolution are, CR 19-59, which extended the First Special Session of the 19th Congress from its original adjournment of July 16, to end instead on the July 19, 2015; and CR 19-71, Setting the ceiling of the total funds estimated to be available for appropriation from the General Fund of the Federated States of Micronesia for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015.
The adopted federal grants as submitted by the Department of Health and Social Affairs included:
CR 19-07, approved a $42,778 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to fund Block Grants for the Community Mental Health Services Program;
CR 19-08, approved $2,890 grant from the U.S. DHHS, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the FSM HIV Care Grants Program;
CR 19-15, approved a $101,388 grant from the U.S. National Park Service, to fund the Kosrae State Historic Preservation Office;
CR 19-22, approved $151,388 grant from the U.S. National Park Service, to fund the Yap State Historic Preservation Office;
CR 19-34, approved a $208,967 grant from the United States DHHS, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to fund the Implementation of the FSM Healthcare Coalition Ebola Preparedness and Response Project;
CR 19-38, approved a $70,374 grant from the U.S. DHHS, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the Improving Date Capacity in the FSM Project:
CR 19-39, approved a $62,120 from the United States DHHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), to fund the FSM Tracking, Surveillance and Integration Project;
CR 19-40, approved a $382,000 grant from the U.S. DHHS, Public Health Service to fund the FSM Family Planning Program, including all the terms and conditions of the assistance.
CR 19-46, approved a $65,238 grant from the U.S. DHHS, CDCP, to fund the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Program in the FSM;
CR 19-47, approved a $73,067 grant from the United States DHHS, CDCP, to fund the implementation of the Preventive Health Services Program in the FSM;
CR 19-48, approved a $490,583 grant from the United States DHHS, CDCP, to fund for the implementation of the FSM’s CCC Plan to Reduce Cancer Burden Project in FSM;
CR 19-53, approved a $405,924 grant from the United States DHHS, CDCP, to fund for the operation and activities of the FSM Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Project;
CR 19-56, approved a $101,387 grant from the United States Department of Interior, National Park Service, to fund the Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Office;
CR 19-68, approve a $384,770 grant from the U.S. DHHS, Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund the Maternal and Child Health Services Program in the FSM;
CR 19-69, approved a $171,112 grant from the U.S. DHHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, to fund the FSM Community Mental Health Services Program; and
CR 19-70, approved a $698,172 grant from the U.S. DHHS, CDCP, to the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs, including all the terms and condition of the assistance.
The First Special Session of 19th Congress adjourned on July 18 2015, as extended and will convene for its Second Regular Session on September 12, unless a special session is called for earlier.
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