Supervisor White expresses concern on resolution seeking IGRA amendments
Apache County District II Supervisor Tom M. White Jr. expressed his concerns with a resolution seeking mitigation for the impact of Indian gaming on county governments during the National Association of Counties' (NACo) 2007 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4.
Though an attempt was made to table the resolution until a Native American sub-committee is formed, it was passed by NACo's Finance and Intergovernmental Affairs Steering Committee. However, the chair of the steering committee, Gail W. Mahoney, recommended that the resolution be reconsidered during NACo's annual conference in July.
"She was our ally over there," Supervisor White said about Chairperson Mahoney.
The resolution would have to also go before the NACo Board of Directors, which Supervisor White serves on.
In the meantime, Supervisor White and Coconino County Supervisor Louise Yellowman are pushing for the Native American sub-committee to be established to review proposed resolutions that affect Indian tribes.
To serve on such a sub-committee, county officials would need to be recommended by their respective state county organizations. In Arizona, the County Supervisors' Association would make the recommendation to Eric Coleman, president-elect of NACo.
The resolution asks for an amendment to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to "require the consideration of and provide for mitigation of the impacts of Indian gaming on local governments." It goes on to state that "IGRA should be amended to empower the National Indian Gaming Commission to have regulatory oversight and strict auditing procedures for all Indian gaming regardless of whether it is conducted under state compact or Secretarial procedures."
The resolutions further states, "Counties can incur significant costs from tribal gaming for which the county has no authority to recoup costs. The proposed amendment would require the Department of the Interior to consider and provide for mitigation of costs incurred by the counties."
Supervisor White, when questioned why he would not support the resolution, noted that the Navajo Nation is in the process of establishing gaming.
"I have to go back to my constituents and speak with the leaders of the Navajo Nation and get their opinion and support," Supervisor White explained. "We need to let the people know."
Supervisor White added that NACo president-elect Coleman wants to start the sub-committee to review all proposed NACo resolutions affecting Indian tribes.
"As Native Americans, we must ensure that other governmental officials are informed about our specific issues," White said. Supervisor White is the only Native American who serves on the NACo Board of Directors.
The NACo 2007 Legislative Conference was held March 3-7, 2007 in Washington D.C. with the intent of helping to strengthen the voice of county government in the nation's capital.
During the conference, NACo members discussed legislative issues and concerns relevant to counties and communities, met with various Congressional representatives and attended professional development and educational workshops. Attendees heard from such guest speakers as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).
NACo, founded in 1935, is the only national organization to represent the nation's 3066 counties. More information on NACo can be found at www.naco.org.