Capitol Watch

The last two weeks at the Legislature have been pretty slow after the ‘big push’ to get bills heard in their house of origin ended last March 9. This week, the Legislature caught its collective breath and started considering bills again. Of the 26 bills that made it through the legislative ‘gauntlet’ to date, one—the Navajo Nation Study Committee bill, SB 1342—has passed both the Senate and House and is ready for signature by Gov. Hull. This bill will establish a committee to study relations between the Navajo Nation and the state.

The two bills affecting the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs are in their home stretch; HB 2307 would change some of ACIA’s statutes, allowing the agency to keep registration fees from the Arizona Indian Town Hall to defray expenses. Currently, registration fees must be turned over to the state treasury.

HB 2308 would continue ACIA for another ten years, until July 1, 2011. Each state agency must be renewed in this fashion for a period up to ten years; the process is known as the ‘sunset review.’ ACIA was on probation for the past three years after failing to fulfill its statutory mission. Ron Lee, the current executive director, is credited with turning the agency around.

Both bills are ready for consideration by the full Senate, and are expected to pass handily.

In other bill news: HB 2354, the Navajo-Hopi land dispute settlement bill, was held in Senate Appropriations. This bill would establish a fund to reimburse lost property tax revenues to counties affected after the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe complete converting fee lands to trust status under the provisions of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement. Capitol Watch will be on hand for next week’s meeting to see what happens next.

Another bill of vital importance to tribes, HB 2440, the impact aid revenue bond bill, has been referred to committees, and hopefully will be heard soon. This bill would allow public schools to issue bonds against anticipated Federal impact aid revenues, and enable these small schools to make needed improvements.

HB 2525, which would establish an Indian education advisory board, has passed the Senate Education Committee.

HB 2531, Native American hospital appropriations; HB 2533, tribal senior centers; HB 2567, Hopi radio broadcasting appropriations; and SB 1328, Native American Cultural Center have all been assigned to committees.

Arizona Indian Town Hall to examine New Economy

The Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs proudly announces that the 21st Arizona Indian Town Hall will be held on May 21-23, 2001. The Indian Town Hall will be held at the Prescott Resort, Prescott, Arizona.

The Arizona Indian Town Hall was initiated in the 1960s to encourage American Indians and non-Indians in the state to work together to make policy recommendations in state and local affairs. In these forums, the 21 Indian Tribes/Nations and other interested parties address vital issues to link resources and seek partnerships to aid in policy formation.

This year’s registration fee will be $50. Participation is by invitation; if you are interested in being invited, or if you would like to nominate someone to be invited, please call ACIA at (602) 542-3123.

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