Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hale continues work to promote interests of Native American nations at the Capitol

Hale continues work to promote interests of Native American nations at the Capitol

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), recently introduced a series of bills to promote the interests of Native American nations in Arizona.

“Native Americans nations, while sovereign entities, continue to contribute to Arizona’s economy,” Hale said. “With that in mind, it is important that these nations receive their fair share of the taxes they collect for the state. Additionally, at the state level, officials make choices that affect the day to day lives of Native Americans. So it makes sense that representatives from these communities get a seat at the table when these decisions are being made.  It is helpful to collectively solve issues, such as water rights, that affect all Arizonans.”

Hale added that the bills he introduced this year are intended to  recognize the contributions Native American nations have made to the state and to reinforce the their sovereign status.   
                     
A summary of these bills is below:

HB 2155 – state transportation board; tribal representation
This bill would require the State Transportation Board to include a representative from an Indian Nation. The Board is responsible for planning for the transportation needs of the state. The population of the 22 federally recognized Indian nations in Arizona exceeds 250,000. These Indian nations have unique transportation needs that are not currently being met. There are 1259.74 miles of state roads on Indian reservations. They need immediate improvements to provide a safe public transportation infrastructure. HB 2074 would help bring that about.

HB 2156 – Native American tribes; TPT revenues
The legislation would allocate Transaction Privilege Tax money, or sales tax, back to the Native American lands where it was collected. These funds would be used for infrastructure and community development, including telecommunication infrastructure development and roads on the Indian reservations. Currently, TPT money is collected from businesses not owned by enrolled members operating on Native American lands and severance tax on mineral extracted on Indian reservations such as coal. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities incorporated under state law. Indian nations are not included in this distribution formula. Native American nations will be authorized to use the TPT money as collateral to fund projects.

HB 2157 - Native Americas; delayed birth certificates
This bill would make permanent the Arizona Department of Health Services policy that streamlined the process for Native Americans and others to receive delayed birth certificates. Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing four separate forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place.  Many Native Americans and Arizonans are born at home and do not get a birth certificate issued at the time of birth. A birth certificate is important documentation for getting social security and other benefits. HB 2157 would codify a process that requires less documentation.

HB 2158 – appropriation; Navajo Nation court complex
This bill would appropriate $7.5 million to help build a Supreme Court Complex on the Navajo Nation.  The entire construction project is expected to cost about $15 million. The Navajo Nation is expected to contribute the other $7.5 million.

HB 2159 – appropriations; water projects; Navajo Nation
This bill would appropriate a little more than $3.4 million from the state general fund to the Navajo Nation for planning and developing water supply and infrastructure projects. These projects are crucial to support community growth and economic development on Native American land.

HB 2160 – TPT; Indian tribe; motor vehicles
Currently, an enrolled member of an Indian nation is only eligible for a TPT exemption on the purchase of a vehicle if the purchase is made by an Indian person who lives on the reservation where he or she is enrolled. This bill would allow an enrolled member of an Indian nation to be eligible for the vehicle purchase TPT exemption regardless of the reservation where he or she lives.

HB 2161 – Central Arizona Project board; membership
This bill would require that the CAP board of directors include one non-voting member to ensure Indian nations are included in discussions about CAP Colorado River water use. The member would be appointed by the governor and selected from a list of three nominees. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona would be responsible for identifying two nominees and the Navajo Nation would be responsible for the third nominee.

“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and my constituents this session,” Hale said. “I am honored to serve my community.”

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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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