Monday, April 15, 2013

UPDATE: Legislature adopts an amendment to get money back into Native American communities

UPDATE: Legislature adopts an amendment to get money back into Native American communities

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The efforts of Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), to get Transaction Privilege Tax money back into the Native American lands where it was collected has moved a step closer to becoming law.

“We are one step closer to providing American Indian communities with access to the TPT money collected on their lands,” Hale said.

Hale explained that currently, TPT money, or sales tax, is collected from businesses not owned by enrolled members operating on Native American lands. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities. Indian nations are not included in this distribution formula. Hale has worked diligently during the legislative session to correct this problem in the distribution formula.

A joint conference committee recently adopted an amendment to SB 1283 that would put 25 percent of TPT money collected from businesses on Native American lands directly back to the Indian nations where it was collected. The bill as amended would allow the use of the Indian nations’ share of TPT money as collateral for bonds or for loans to finance telecommunications, infrastructure development, community projects and roads.

“The TPT funds collected from non-Indian owned businesses operating on Native American lands will help support the growth of our communities,” Hale said. “When that money starts coming directly to Native American communities, people in those communities will be empowered to utilize the funds for projects and developments that are most important to those communities.  It can be the state’s assistance to Indian nations to help finance development on Indian nations where no state contribution now exists.  It is a win-win for the state and Indian nations.”

SB 1283 would create a study committee to analyze possible county boundary changes and TPT distribution equity and requires the committee to publish a report of its findings by the end of the year.  The conference committee amendment eliminates the county study commission and replaces it with distribution of TPT revenues to Indian nations and counties.  This amended bill must still be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before going on to the governor.

“I express my appreciation to Senator Chester Crandell for allowing the amendment to be heard in committee,” Hale said. “I also thank the joint conference committee for supporting this effort.”

Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.


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