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Council back on amendment to Sihasin Fund
January 24, 2018 News Articles

LEGISLATION 0401-17: An Action Relating to Law and Order; Budget and Finance, and Naabik’fyati’ Committees and Navajo Nation Council; Amending CD-68-14, The Navajo Nation Sfhasin Fund (90%) SPONSOR: Honorable Dwight Witherspoon CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Walter Phelps

DELEGATE CROTTY, if we open this up, are we opening up funds for construction of buildings to operate out of? Is this changing policy because my community is struggling to get Headstart building.

DELEGATE DWIGHT WITHERSPOON, SPONSOR OF LEGISLATION, you are correct. Tribe has ID business site leases and in past we have provided buildings and operators take space to operate business such as shopping centers which has several operators. Does not speak to whether funds projects partially or fully. Second question is funds for other buildings. Tribe has overwhelming amount of needs and when came to Council saw that everything costs money, $205M needed a year to address needs. how create more money? certainly look at revenue sources. Current law says Sihasin Fund law mandates only fund structures that generate revenues. Proposed change not only for gaming but projects across the reservation.

DELEGATE NELSON BEGAYE, some of us felt Sihasin Fund policy broad enough for Twin Arrows Entertainment Center. So are these changes, which I support, broad enogh to include utility lines.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ETHEL BRANCH, language could have been clearer to include economic development. And sticking point in prior challenge was “commercial buildings.”

DELEGATE WALTER PHELPS, thank you Delegate Witherspoon for amendment and think amendment pretty self-explanatory and not for particular project and leads to legal interpretation to satisfy provision here. appareciate amendment in section B to expand little more and goes back to 88-Council legislation. This makes more broaders on projects introduced for funding from Sihasin Fund. We are at a point in time, whether president’s office, to seriously look at opportunities for revenue generation. For me if really good opportunity for revenue generalion to benefit annual funds would be welcomed.

DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE, unfortunate have to come back to amendment Sihasin Fund language for Twin Arrows Travel Center for gaming and gaming is economic development. Gaming is to make money. And have facility near interstate where 16,000 vehicles pass by but yet because of very, very, very narrow legal interpretation by attorney general and tribal department of justice we have lost tax revenues. so now have to put in specific language and not could be told not listed cuz mentioning power lines, solid waste cuz council decided to itemize projects.

DELEGATE TOUCHNEY SLIM, who represents Coppermine, K’aii’to, LeChee, Tonalea/Red Lake, Bodaway/Gap chapters, says this amendment to Sihasin Fund will benefit my community, which is working on economic development.

DELEGATE KEE ALLEN BEGAY, could the hearings of people on how they wanted the Sihasin Fund spent at the local level be shared again with Council. They are the ones that put us here. Send those documents on hearings to justice department, president. For example, certified chapters on own and not providing assistance to help them build and be self sustaining. We have strings attached, such as our debate on Kayenta Township. Have $70M of funding requests from Undesignated, Unreserved Fund Balance but there’s only $17M in there.

DELEGATE CROTTY, thank staff for list of pending projects for Sihasin Fund and see no plan for northern region and also Fort Defiance region. the original legislation and in readying this and how provides money, i am uncomfortable to give money to businesses. we gave $25M to CDFI. there was grandma here and she asked how Council can continue to give money to gaming when she has no running water. Sometimes this political system hampers community growth especially when have Speaker and President from northern region of reservation.

SPEAKER SAYS LEGISLATION 0401-17 REQUIRES 22 “YES” VOTES. COUNCIL VOTES ON 0401-17, SHOWS 21-1, AND DELEGATE SHEPHERD ASKS IF SPEAKER IS ALLOWED TO VOTE. DELEGATE PETE RETURNS AND VOTES GREEN SO COUNCIL HAS 22 “YES” VOTES. SO 0401-17 PASSES. AND CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL SAYS SIHASIN FUND REGS MANDATES 22 “YES” VOTES AND SPEAKER MANDATED TO VOTE ONLY IF TIE VOTE BY COUNCIL.

SPEAKER RECESS COUNCIL FOR LUNCH AT 2:30 PM

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