Navajo Council meets for Day Three of Spring Session

Council amends resolution regarding Key Bank loan, passes Special Prosecutor Amendments Act of 2010

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation Council on Wednesday passed several legislations on the third day of the 2010 Spring Session at the Navajo Nation Council Chamber.

Legislation No. 0161-10, sponsored by Council Delegate Lorenzo C. Bates (Upper Fruitland), passed with a vote of 63-0. The legislation amends Resolution CJA-04-10, which was passed during the winter session, and approves a senior unsecured tax exempt or taxable loan from Keybank in the amount of $60 million for public safety and judicial facilities on the Navajo Nation.

The amendments also allow the Navajo Nation to apply for the US Treasury's Build America Bond.

Through the bond, the Navajo Nation could save money as the federal government pays one-third of the Nation's loan interest rate on the Key Bank loan and receive $12 million in return from the bond.

Council Delegate Rex Lee Jim (Rock Point), former chairman for the Public Safety Committee, expressed how important the legislation's amendments are to the Navajo Nation when saving money and establishing credibility.

"We need to save as much money as possible and at the same time the loan is at a credible rate, so we are in good position to develop good credibility," Jim added. "In terms of when construction begins, we have plans in place to have construction begin in the fall."

In other action, legislation (Legislation No. 0016-10) sponsored by Council Delegate Orlanda Smith-Hodge (Cornfields/Greasewood Springs/Klagetoh/Wide Ruins) passed the Council floor, 61-17. Smith-Hodge's legislation enacts the Special Prosecutor Amendments Act of 2010 and amends Titles II and VII of the Navajo Nation Code giving authority to the Office of Legislative Counsel to appoint a special prosecutor during special investigations.

"The intent of this legislation is to ensure that both Office of Legislative Counsel and the Attorney General work together for the Navajo people," Smith-Hodge said. "As the Council, we have that obligation to amend certain provisions that are set aside in Navajo statutes."

Council Delegate Larry Anderson, Sr. (Fort Defiance) confirmed Smith-Hodge's stance and further explained the importance of the legislation.

"We are certainly different from the halls of Congress and the states," Anderson said. "We use our Navajo language, knowledge and tradition when legislating."

"We need this legislation so our sovereignty is protected; let's do our own and serve these laws on Navajo," Anderson said.

Council Delegate Roy Laughter (Chilchinbeto/Kayenta) sponsored two legislations relating to the affairs of Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA).

Laughter's first legislation (Legislation No. 0032-10) amends NTUA's plan of operation, which authorizes the NTUA Management Board to approve limited waivers of NTUA's sovereign immunity. The limited waiver of NTUA's sovereign immunity allows NTUA to enter into valuable business opportunities such as New Market Tax Credits financing for projects like the Big Boquillas Wind Project. Legislation No. 0032-10 passed, 59-19.

The second legislation (Legislation No. 0033-10) increases NTUA's borrowing authority from $200 million to $500 million, which will help improve and expand NTUA's utility facilities as well as new facilities to serve its customers. Legislation No. 0033-10 passed with a vote 70-5.

Day Four of the 2010 Spring Session will continue on Thursday. Copies of the full agenda and legislations can be downloaded at www.navajonationcouncil.org.

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