Fixing the Navajo Council & its committees’ quorum problems?

Greetings Relatives/Frens,
The Navajo Nation Council’s Resources & Development Committee is meeting tomorrow and on their agenda is legislation 0294-13, which amends a section of Title 2 of the Navajo Nation Code that regulates the Council and its standing committees.

The Council has final authority over legislation 0294-13 and since 0294 impacts all the committee, it moves to to the Budget & Finance Committee, Naabiki’yati’ Committee and finally to the Council. It’s already gone before the Healht, Education & Human Services Committee and the Law & Order Committee.

A careful reading of Title 2, section 164, would provide you with an understanding of the mandated legislative process and rules for the Council and committees.

Speaker Johnny is the sponsor of 0294-13 Amending 2 NNC section 164 (A)(9) and 2 NNC section 700 (D) of the Navajo Nation Code:

It appears that the proposed amendments are aimed at moving proposed legislation for final action by the Council to the Council. For some time now the Naabiki’yati’ Committee has been having quorum problems. It takes hours for the committee to get a quorum and when it finally gets a quorum, it can’t maintain a quorum.

The proposed amendments to section 164 (A)(9) would remove the Naabiki’yati Committee from the legislative process for legislation that requires final approval by the Council. But the proposed amendments would allow the Naabiki’yati Committee to send back proposed legislation that is assigned to it to the appropriate standing committee or committees, which it cannot do now.

The speaker assigns proposed legislation to the appropriate standing committees.

The other amendment, which is to section 700(D), redefines what a quorum is for the Naabiki’yati’ Committee. A quorum would no longer require two members from each of the standing committees or a majority of the 24-member Council.

The proposed quorum would require the presence of the five committee chairpersons or the vice chairperson or a designee of each of the standing committees.

When the Council had 88 delegates, there were 12 committees. They were the Budget & Finance Committee, Education Committee, Economic Development Committee, Ethics & Rules Committee, Government Services Committee, Health & Social Services Committee, Human Services Committee, Judiciary Committee, Public Safety Committee, Resources Committee, Transportation and Community Development Committee and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, which is what the Naabiki’yati’ Committee replaced.

The 88-member Council and its committees had quorum problems but they were not as serious as the 24-member Council and its committees.

And when the people voted to reduce the Council, one of the reasons was to eliminate the quorum problems and increase accountability.
Accountability has not increased.

Two items on the Resources & Development Committee are about accountability, local government accountability. And according to the financial audits of Navajo Mountain Chapter and Rock Springs Chapter, there is a critical lack of accountability.

Delegate Jonathan Nez, who is also the Budget & Finance Committee chairperson, is the Council representative for Navajo Mountain and sponsor of legislation 0259-13 Accepting the financial audit of Navajo Mountain Chapter & Approving its Corrective Action Plan:
Navajo Mountain Chapter financial audit

Delegate Charles Damon, who is a RDC member, is sponsoring the other legislation dealing with local government accountability, which is 0286-13 Accepting the financial audit of Rock Springs Chapter & Approving its Corrective Action Plan:
Rock Springs Chapter financial audit

According to the Navajo Mountain audit, the former chapter community services coordinator illegally issued unauthorized chapter checks to her and other vendors totaling $129,000.
And among the chapter’s 13 deficient internal controls are that chapter officials and the former community services coordinator signed their own checks, the chapter could not justify wages paid to temporary employees, the chapter disregarded the established pay schedule to issue payroll checks and there were weak controls over accounting of the Eehaniih Day celebration revenues and expenses.
There were 8 findings regarding non-compliance with laws and funding guidelines, which included the chapter was not awarding scholarships fairly and equitably, the use of emergency funds could not be justified, and financial reports were not provided to the community.

The Rock Springs Chapter audited found that expenditures from the Veterans’ Fund were not for veterans, that Emergency Fund expenditures could not be justified, that capital outlay appropriations were not used as intended, that financial reports were not provided to the community, and that favoritism was used to provide services to chapter officials, staff, committee members and their relatives and friends.

The non-legislative items that the Resources & Development will address are scheduling a meeting and field tour with Resolute Energy Corporation at Montezuma Creek, Utah, setting meeting dates to review the proposed Navajo Rangeland Act or Grazing Act, the Title 26 amendments, to receive an update on the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, and approving an Oct. 30 work session on legislation 0242-13 The Navajo Nation Economic Development Fund Management Plan, which is sponsored by Delegate Dwight Witherspoon.

REVISED Resources & Development Committee 10-15-13 agenda

The Budget & Finance Committee has called a special meeting to hear a report on the status of the fiscal 2014 budgets for the 110 chapters and two pieces of legislation.
Legislation 0313-13 is for the formal acceptance of the federal government Indirect Cost rates for fiscal 2009 to 2013 and legislation 0259-13 Accepting the audit of Navajo Mountain and CAP.
Budget & Finance Committee 10-17-13 special meeting agenda

And last but by no means least, the Council is having a special session on Oct. 16, Wednesday, to take action on legislation 0305-13 $4.1 million for Navajo Transitional Energy Company to continue negotiating the purchase of BHP Billiton coal mine and legislation 0276-13 The 2013 Energy Policy.

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