Fwd: FCNL Native American Update for April (long)
BrightCrow at InfoAve.Net
Fri Apr 23 17:16:37 JEST 1999
Here are the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) updates for
April on Native American legislative issues. Please share them with
FCNL Native American Legislative Updates for March 18, 1999
The following are updates and action suggestions from the Friends Committee
on National Legislation (FCNL) regarding Indian affairs legislation for the
coming two weeks. These messages focus on selected legislation which
Congress is considering now, and suggest some points that you may wish to
make in your communications with Congress. These messages are intended as
a supplement to other FCNL Native American Program materials and do not
reflect FCNL's complete policy position on any issue, nor do they include
all pertinent facts on any topic. For more information, or to request the
FCNL Indian Report and other background documents, please contact Aura
Kanegis, FCNL Legislative Associate for Native American Affairs: (202)
547-6000 ext. 113; 245 2nd St. NE, Washington, DC 20002; aura at fcnl.org.
INDIAN GAMING REGULATORY ACT AMENDMENT. Senator Reid (NV) and Enzi (WY)
may attempt to introduce an amendment to amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory
Act to discourage the Secretary of the Interior from mediating conflicts
between states and tribes concerning gambling. The Indian Gaming
Regulatory Act, passed in 1988, provides statutory guidelines for operating
and regulating tribal gambling enterprises. Tribal governments which
operate gambling facilities use revenues to provide services to tribal
members and fund other governmental activities. Before 1988, states had
little control in regulating tribal gambling. Under IGRA, states have
significant power in regulating "Class III" or casino-style gambling.
States and tribes must negotiate compacts concerning casino-style gambling.
However, tribal operation of gambling facilities is limited only to the
types of gambling permitted within the state. In states such as Utah and
Hawaii, where gambling is prohibited, tribes may not operate gambling
Many states and tribes have successfully negotiated agreements concerning
gambling, which then have been approved by the Department of the Interior.
However, a few states have refused to negotiate with tribes, even
concerning types of gambling which are permitted by the state. Without
opportunity to negotiate with the state, tribes cannot chose gambling as a
means to generate revenues for services. Under the 1996 Supreme Court
Seminole decision, tribes have no recourse with states which refuse to
negotiate in good faith.
IGRA was originally designed to allow state participation in regulating
tribal gambling, but not absolute veto of tribal gambling by a state. In
response to the Supreme Court decision, the Department of the Interior
drafted regulations under the Act which would allow the Department to
mediate compacts between states and tribes or create alternative procedures
in a break down of negotiations. However, a provision in the Omnibus
Appropriations bill in October 1998 prohibited the Interior from publishing
its regulations until March 31, 1999.
Senators Reid (NV) and Enzi (WY) may introduce an amendment to the FY1999
Emergency and Supplemental Appropriations Bill which would prevent the
Interior from finalizing its draft regulations for mediating state-tribal
conflicts in gambling compacts. The Supplemental Appropriations bill was
marked up in Appropriations Committees in both the House and the Senate and
is expected to reach the floor by the week of March 22nd.
While FCNL is opposed to gambling as a method to generate revenue for
governments, FCNL also supports tribes' sovereignty in making their own
decisions about economic development (see Friends, Gambling, and Native
American Sovereignty: Perspectives on a Challenge Area G- 703-NA). Tribes
should be allowed to determine their own development strategies, unhindered
by a state's refusal to negotiate gambling compacts. States in which
gambling is legal should not be allowed to block tribal economic
development plans by refusing to negotiate gambling compacts with tribes.
ACTION. Please contact your representatives and encourage them to oppose
any amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill which would prevent
the Department of the Interior from publishing its draft regulations to
mediate conflicts between states and tribes under IGRA.
TRIBAL SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY AND STATE TAXATION. On March 4, 1999, Senator
Gorton (WA) introduced S. 550, which would require tribes to waive their
sovereign immunity to allow state governments to sue tribal governments in
federal courts to collect state taxes on tribal sales to non-tribal
members. Sovereign immunity is a right exercised by federal, state and
tribal governments which protects governments from being sued. This right
is especially important to tribes which have very limited resources which
could be easily depleted by lawsuit. Without protection from lawsuit,
tribes might not be able to provide services to their members. Tribal
sovereign immunity is limited in some areas, for example in programs
contracted through the federal government. While tribal governments may
choose a limited waiver of their sovereign immunity in other areas, this
should be left to the discretion of tribes.
The courts have generally upheld a state's right to collect taxes on sales
made to non-Indians on reservations, so long as the tax burden does not
fall on an individual Indian or tribe. Jurisdiction on reservations is
complicated by rulings which differentiate between Indians and non-Indians
on reservations. However, many states and tribes have worked together to
negotiate these complexities. Some states have made voluntary arrangements
with tribes to collect taxes on sales to non-Indians. Other states have
chosen to respect the sovereignty of tribes by not collecting those taxes.
ACTION. Please contact your Senator and encourage him or her to oppose
Gorton's bill S. 550.
NATIVE AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE UPDATES FOR APRIL 22, 1999
COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT: The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed
in 1977 to affirm that "regulated financial institutions have continuing
and affirmative obligations to help meet the credit needs of the local
communities in which they are chartered." The Community Reinvestment Act
encourages federally insured financial institutions to provide loan
services to Indian Country and other traditionally neglected areas. Banks
have worked with Native American groups to provide more than $155 million
in loans in Indian country since the implementation of CRA. Native
American communities have only recently begun to take full advantage of CRA
to enable economic development in Indian Country by increasing access to
credit. CRA has been used nationally to help create affordable housing and
assist first time home buyers, provide loans and technical assistance for
small businesses and support other community development projects.
On March 4, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
approved the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 which will change
aspects of the CRA. Specifically, changes could exempt small, rural banks
from coverage by the CRA and make it more difficult for the public to
comment on a bank's CRA performance. In addition, the bill would not
require that all banks within a holding company have a "satisfactory" CRA
rating in order to take advantage of new options provided in the bill.
ACTION: Please write your senator to express your support of the CRA and to
urge him or her to oppose the Senate Banking Committee's Financial Services
Act unless those provisions which would weaken CRA are removed.
STATE TAXATION ON TRIBAL TRUST LANDS: On April 12, Representative Istook
(OK) circulated a letter to colleagues in the House of Representatives
encouraging them to co-sponsor legislation which would attempt to enforce
collection of state taxes on tribal lands. Specifically, the bill would
allow the Secretary of Interior to remove tribal lands from trust status if
businesses located on that land did not comply with state tax laws. In
addition, it might jeopardize existing compacts between states and tribes
concerning tax collection by encouraging state governments to break
Tribes should be allowed to set their own tax laws and sales made on trust
lands should be exempt from state retail sales taxes. In addition, the
trust status of tribal lands should be protected and should not be used to
pressure tribes into unfair tax agreements.
Representative Istook (OK) is expected to introduce this legislation in the
next two to three weeks.
ACTION: Please contact your representatives to urge them to oppose Istook's
proposed legislation and any similar efforts to enforce state collection of
taxes on tribal trust lands.
R. Aura Kanegis
Legislative Associate for Native American Affairs
Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 2nd St. NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202)547-6000 ext. 112
aura at fcnl.org
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