Curley pushes water rights, state legislative priorities at Navajo Council’s Winter Session

Miss Navajo Nation Amy Begaye, Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne, Speaker Crystalyne Curley and President Buu Nygren honor Council Delegate and former Speaker Seth Damon after he announced his resignation as a member of the Council (Photo/NNC)

Miss Navajo Nation Amy Begaye, Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne, Speaker Crystalyne Curley and President Buu Nygren honor Council Delegate and former Speaker Seth Damon after he announced his resignation as a member of the Council (Photo/NNC)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation Council Speaker Crystalyne Curley provided a report that focused on several priorities including finalizing an Arizona water rights settlement proposal, state legislative priorities and expending American Rescue Plan Act funds for infrastructure projects during the opening day of the 2024 Winter Council Session on Jan. 22.

In her report, Curley highlighted the ongoing work to develop policies and procedures for the Legislative Branch and the successful passage of a first-ever plan of operation for the Office of the Speaker. Under her leadership, Curley also mandated sexual harassment prevention training for all Legislative Branch employees, which was completed in October.

Curley also informed the council that she will introduce emergency legislation to address the Navajo Nation’s position regarding Utah S.B. 57, which proposes a framework that would allow the Utah State Legislature, by concurrent resolution, to prohibit the enforcement of a federal directive within the state by government officers if the Legislature determines the federal directive violates the principles of state sovereignty.

“This type of law has the potential to impact all tribes in the state [of Utah] when it comes to important issues such as the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and other federal laws. This is a major concern that we have to address with the state of Utah,” Curley said.

Curley spoke about the council’s advocacy for reforms to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to close loopholes that allow fraudulent sober living homes to operate and victimize members of the Navajo Nation and other tribes.

Curley also noted that because of the major budget deficit in the state of Arizona, state legislators will have to make difficult decisions when it comes to funding programs such as the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program, also known as the school voucher program

“We will continue to propose alternative options that will benefit students residing on our Nation,” Curley wrote in the report.

Regarding a proposed water rights settlement in Arizona, Curley noted that the Navajo Nation Council, Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, Attorney General Ethel Branch, and the Executive Branch will begin hosting public education sessions at the end of January in various Arizona communities to present information regarding proposed Colorado River settlements.

“It is very important that our Navajo people are informed and that we proceed carefully to ensure that our communities receive much needed water resources that can sustain generations to come,” Curley said.

The report also highlights the 25th Navajo Nation Council’s continued work with the Executive Branch to provide support and direction to ensure that ARPA funds are obligated or expended as soon as possible.

Nearly all Council Delegates have introduced legislation to allocate the $8.8 million per delegate region.

Information provided by the Office of the Speaker.

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