Monday, April 11, 2011

Dianne Feinstein's Anti-Reservation Shopping Bill Getting Negative Response;

Anti reservation shopping bill introduced by Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, co-sponsored by John Kyl is receiving negative reviews....

Indian Country Today has the story:

That was the first thing people noticed about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s newest version of her anti-Indian gaming bill, which was introduced late on Friday, April 8. The second thing is that the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl, is misnamed “The Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act.”

“Instead of naming it the Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act it really ought to be named the Anti-Gaming Act,” said Joe Valandra, Sicangu Lakota, and principal owner and president of VAdvisors, LLC, a specialty advisory firm.”It’s clearly designed to effectively stop any tribe that currently isn’t gaming or any tribe that doesn’t have land eligible for gaming from gaming. And she did it on a Friday afternoon when the press is clearly focused on the shutdown of the government to avoid attention.”

According to a summary that accompanied the proposed legislation, the Feinstein bill “seeks to end the practice of ‘reservation shopping’ when casinos are involved.” So Feinstein’s bill would amend Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to require tribes seeking to open casinos on land acquired after the passage of the act in 1988 to demonstrate both a modern and an aboriginal connection to the land they wish to game on – two totally random new requirements — or go through what is called the “two part determination.”

Valandra said the new requirements present “artificial hurdles to inhibit or stop tribes to game on land that they would otherwise legally be entitled to possess and game on. Frankly, my word would be, it’s a travesty,” he said.

Section 20 of IGRA puts forward a general prohibition against Indian gaming on trust lands acquired after October 17, 1988, the date IGRA was enacted, and then provides a number of exceptions to the prohibition, including land within or contiguous to a tribe’s existing reservation; land for tribes without reservations; land within the tribe’s last recognized reservation; land claim settlements; initial reservations for newly acknowledged tribes; and restored lands for restored tribes.

The most controversial and onerous exception is the Two Part Determination in which the Interior Secretary determines that a tribe can conduct gaming on its land acquired after October 17, 1988 if it’s in the “best interest” of the tribe and is not detrimental to the surrounding community. The determination requires the governor’s approval.

Tom Rodgers, the owner of Carlyle Consulting, said Indian country will closely review and monitor the Feinstein proposal. “Even though Sen. Feinstein has chosen to introduce her legislation late on a Friday afternoon during a crisis dealing with a government shutdown, Indian country will remain vigilant so that the rights of all Native Americans are protected,” Rodgers said. “We will conduct our due diligence and we will consult all of the tribes so that all tribal voices are equally heard. I would also hope the senator proceeds in regular order – introduction, committee hearing, floor debate, conference. That way the process will have transparency, accountability and integrity.”

This is the second time in less than six months that Feinstein has put forward a bill to restrict Indian gaming on trust lands. Last fall, Feinstein used the Interior Department to provide drafting services for a controversial bill that would also require a tribe to have modern and aboriginal connections to any gaming land the secretary might acquire in trust. The bill died in the lame-duck session of Congress just before the New Year, but tribal leaders expressed outrage that it had been developed behind closed doors with the involvement of high level Interior officials – and without consultation with the Indian nations.

Wilson Pipestem, a partner in Ietan Consulting, predicted that Feinstein’s new bill would not be well received in Indian country.

“I expect that Indian tribes will strongly oppose the legislation introduced by Senators Feinstein and Kyl today,” Pipestem said. “It fails to address the most critical issues voiced throughout Indian Country on the protection of aboriginal lands.”

See more at the Indian Country Today  story
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