Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hale bill would appropriate $7.5 million to build Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex

Hale bill would appropriate $7.5 million to build Navajo Nation Supreme Court Complex

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A bill introduced by Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), that would appropriate $7.5 million to help fund the construction of a Supreme Court Complex for the Navajo Nation was recently discussed in the House Rural and Economic Development Committee.

 “A nation’s highest court should be housed in a complex that inspires confidence and instills trust in the judicial system,” Hale said. “It also must be functional. The planned Supreme Court Complex accomplishes both these goals.”

Navajo Nation Chief Justice Herb Yazzie, who testified before the committee, said that HB 2158 provides a unique opportunity for the state and the Navajo Nation to collaborate.

“The Navajo people are looking for cooperation between their nation and Arizona,” Yazzie said. “This project would strengthen that relationship and demonstrate the state’s respect for the Navajo Nation and its judicial system. It would be an act of good faith for Arizona and would serve as a symbol of justice.”

Yazzie added the new complex would be mutually beneficial because the Navajo Nation Supreme Court has seen a growing number of cases involving non-Indian businesses operating on the reservation. The total cost of the construction project is expected to be approximately $19 million. Contributions from both the Navajo Nation and the federal government would cover the remaining cost.

In committee, Hale added that the state has a responsibility to fund this project because the Navajo Nation does not receive an adequate portion of the sales tax revenue it contributes to the general fund.

“Until the state changes the tax formulas so that Indian Nations receive a fair share of the revenue they collect, requests like this will continue to occur,” Hale said. “This is an ongoing issue and I have been calling on state leaders to correct it for years.”

Hale also thanked the committee chairman and members for allowing the discussion.

“This is important to my community and I appreciate the time and attention the committee has given this matter,” Hale said.

The full text of the bill is available here.
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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