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Month: March 2019

Natural disasters, shutdown increase American Samoa’s need for federal funds

Lolo Matalasi Moliga (D), Governor of American Samoa, requested that the United States Senate approve funding for the territory’s infrastructure needs which he said were numerous and consisted of both the restoration or service of the existing units and development of new facilities. Among other stated requirements, Lolo called for $5 million for dredging at Faleasao and Ta’u in the Manu’a island group and another $5 million for the construction of a dock in the group to attract more fishing vessels. This comes roughly two weeks after American Samoa’s call to the US Senate for increased support with food...

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Economic growth expected to decline in Guam in 2019

The outlook for the Guamanian economy in 2019 is less optimistic than in 2018, as a slowdown in economic growth is expected. Despite this less optimistic outlook in the common months, as reported by recent University of Guam-based statistics, Guam’s economy is still expected to grow, even though it may be at a lower rate than was seen in 2018. While inflation for 2018 was approximately 2.6%, wages increases in the private sector of 3% and increases in the public sector of 2.8% offset inflation, and even beat it out last year. These signs reflect a positive lining to...

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Guam set to legalize recreational marijuana

Following the March 7 public hearing that saw the participation of local residents in the debate, the legalization of marijuana in Guam has garnered mixed reactions. The proposed Bill 32-35, authored by Senator Clynt Ridgell (D), named the “Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019” will allow adults age 21 and older to personally cultivate, purchase, and use cannabis and cannabis products in Guam, in addition to commercial cultivation, manufacturing and sales of cannabis and cannabis products for personal use. The bill has also received the support of Governor Lou Guerrero (D) who is following up on her campaign promise...

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Could approval voting help solve the Puerto Rico status issue?

Five times in the history of Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory of the United States, there have been popular referenda, or plebiscites, presented to Puerto Rican voters to decide the future of its political status. Most recently, an overwhelming majority of voters chose statehood—but with a boycott by the Popular Democratic Party and record low turnout, there is reduced confidence that these plebiscites can accurately represent the desires of the voters. Most of the past referenda used the same voting method, known as “first-past-the-post,” or a winner-take-all system, in which the option with the most votes win, even...

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The need for micro grids in Puerto Rico after the fallout from Hurricanes María and Irma

Before Hurricane María hit in September 2107, Puerto Rico was already facing a major financial crisis, as the territory was $73 billion in debt and had recently filed for municipal bankruptcy. $9 billion of this debt was owed by the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA), whose leadership then fell under scrutiny after María for awarding shady building contracts, particularly concerning Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny construction company from Montana that quickly, and suspiciously, won a $300 million bid to rebuild the grid. Contention surrounding mismanagement lead to the resignation of PREPA’s chief executive, Ricardo L. Ramos in November...

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