Capitol Watch

As the deadline to hear bills in legislative committee draws near, committee calendars grow ever larger. The House Native American Committee listed 12 bills on the February 15 agenda; eight bills were heard and passed on their way, while four were held.

The most notable bill held back: HB 2478, the tribal TANF appropriations bill. Committee Co-chair Sylvia Laughter said that the absence of Rep. Mark Anderson, who is very knowledgeable on TANF affairs, kept the bill back until next week.

This week’s committee highlight: a presentation by Wynne Hall, economic development specialist and vice president of Sovereign Capital. Hall, a member of the Warm Springs Tribe of Oregon, spoke on the trends in venture capital, and how tribes can gain access to this valuable resource for growing their economies. HB 2530 will provide capital to communities through a Small Business Investment Corporation (SBIC), stated Hall.

“We [the tribes and states] share a lot of the same goals and objectives” of sustainable wealth and quality jobs, Hall added.

Bills passed this week included HB 2567, a one-time appropriation of $106,000 for Hopi radio broadcasting programs; HB 2472, an appropriation for the Navajo women’s domestic violence program; and HB 2300, which will create another special Arizona license plate featuring the Navajo Nation.

One bill of note which passed the first hurdle: HB 2551, the House answer to the Senate bill appropriating $500,000 to convert the old Phoenix Indian School dining hall into Arizona’s first intertribal cultural center, the Native American Cultural Center (NACC). Arizona American Indian Tourism Association (AAITA) treasurer Tandy Young spoke of the need to have a place where visitors can ask the basic questions about Arizona’s second biggest tourist attraction, the 21 Indian Tribes/Nations.

“Native American tourism is hot,” declared Young. NACC will be the place for people to get answers to their tourism questions, said Young and fellow bill supporter Rory Majenty.

Majenty, the board chairman of the Grand Canyon West Resort Corporation, spoke of the need to provide tourism management services to tribes, such as his Hualapai Nation. “NACC will allow tribes to coordinate their tourism program promotion with local Chambers of Commerce. [Tribes] pay $60 million [yearly] to the state in taxes, and tourism is a $12 billion industry,” said Majenty in his statement.

ACIA continuation bill passes House

The Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs (ACIA) won the “thumbs-up” from the full House this week; its bills to continue the commission for ten years passed overwhelmingly, and have been assigned to Senate committees for the same process they underwent in the House.

In other ACIA news: the Arizona Indian Town Hall will be held May 21-23 at the Prescott Resort. This year’s theme: “Tribal-State Partnerships in the New Economy.” The Indian Town Hall will examine how tribes can use the concepts of the New Economy to their advantage in building sustainable economies. Participation is normally by invitation; if you are interested in participating, call ACIA at (602) 542-3123 for more information.

Capitol Watch is a bit short this week; we couldn’t match our schedule with Rep. Sylvia Laughter’s to get the inside scoop of the marathon job she performs on behalf of her constituents in District 3. We hope to catch up with her next week and complete our story on “A Day in the Life of a Legislator.” The folks in District 3 can be proud of Ms. Laughter and her dedication to her homeland.

Keep in touch with your bills-check out the ACIA Web Site at www.indianaffairs.state.az.us.

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