And on March 13, the Navajo Nation Council is having a special session at the Council chambers in Window Rock, starting at 10 a.m.
Among the proposed legislation going before the Naabik’iyati Committee and the Council is the creation of the Diné Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission, which began in 2013 and was temporarily stalled and almost terminated by the former 22nd Council’s Resource & Development Committee’s subcommittee to draft an agreement with Hydro-Resources Inc. for an in-situ uranium mining pilot project near Church Rock, N.M. The RDC subcommittee chairperson was RDC member/Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie and the subcommittee vice chairperson was RDC member/Council Delegate Leonard Pete. The Council dissolved the RDC subcommittee on Jan. 22, 2014, with its vote of 18 in favor, 3 opposed on Legislation 0091-14.
Another legislation going before the Naabik’iyati Committee/Naabi and Council is for all three of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court justices to have a law degree, which would become effective immediately. And that would require Council approval with a 2/3 vote and President Ben Shelly’s signature. Chief Justice Herb Yazzie holds a law degree but Associate Justice Eleanor Shirley does not. There is one vacancy on the Supreme Court. The president nominates judges to the high court and the Council confirms the nomination. After confirmation, Supreme Court justices must successfully complete a probationary period: Per Title 7 Navajo Nation Code §355 and §356, Judges must serve a two-year probationary term and receive a satisfactory performance evaluation from the Chief Justice and Law and Order Committee at the conclusion of the two-year probationary term prior to consideration for permanent appointment and confirmation. According to Farmington Daily Times news reporter Noel Smith, who filed a story on the proposed law degree requirement, the Judicial Branch opposed the law degree qualification because Navajo Nation law requires tribal judges and justices “be well-versed in Diné laws, traditions and customs, which are the basis of Diné Fundamental Law and common law.”
For those readers that are unfamiliar with the Navajo Nation legislative process, the Naabik’iyati Committee is the top standing committee of the Council and consists of the four standing committees of the Council. Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates presides over the Naabik’iyati as its committee chairperson.
All of the proposed agendas of the committees and the Council may be amended before approval with a simple majority vote. And even after approval, the agenda may be amended but only by super majority vote or a 2/3 vote. Amendments may include the deletion of legislation and reports from the agenda or the addition of legislation and reports to the agenda.
Legislation acted on by the Naabik’iyati Committee usually moves forward to the Council for final action. Some legislation only require final approval by the Naabik’iyati Committee or Naabi and so those pieces of legislation don’t go before the Council.
For example, the legislation on the proposed Naabi agenda is Legislation 0015-15: An Action relating to Law and Order, Resources and Development and Naabik’íyáti’ Committees and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending 2 N.N.C. § 3580 to Create a Diné Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission. Legislation 0015-15 requires Council approval based on the legislation title, which also shows that 0015-15 had to go before the Law and Order Committee, the Resources and Development Committee, and Naabi.
The proposed Naabik’iyati Committee agenda for March 12, 2015, includes:
a. Legislation 0015-15: An Action relating to Law and Order, Resources and Development and Naabik’íyáti’ Committees and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending 2 N.N.C. § 3580 to Create a Diné Uranium Remediation Advisory Commission Sponsor: Hon. Jonathan Perry Co-Sponsors: Hon. Tom T. Chee, Hon. Otto Tso, Hon. Amber K. Crotty, Hon. Mel R. Begay, Hon. Jonathan Nez, Hon. Nathaniel Brown, Hon. Tuchoney Slim, Jr.
b. Legislation 0031-15: An Act relating to Law and Order, Naabik’íyáti’ and Navajo Nation Council; Amending Navajo Nation Code Title 7 by Requiring Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justices to Hold a Juris Doctor Degree Hon. Dwight Witherspoon
c. Legislation 0056-14: An Action relating to Budget and Finance and Naabik’iyati Committee and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending and Supplementing Resolution No. CJA-03-10 of the Navajo Nation Council; Authorizing Swap Agreements in Connection with Swap Transactions to Hedge Energy Prices and to Manage Interest Rate Risk and Investment Risks; Approving a Swap Policy and Related Actions Sponsor: Hon. Jonathan Nez
d. Legislation 0063-15: An Act relating to Law and Order, Naabik’íyáti’ and Navajo Nation Council; Amending the Navajo Nation Ethics in Government Law at 2 N.N.C. §3780 and the Election Code 11 N.N.C. §8 by Requiring all Ethics Judgments to be Satisfied Prior to Candidacy for Elective Public Office Sponsor: Hon. Alton Joe Shepherd
e. Legislation 0067-15: An Action relating to Naabik’íyáti’ Committee and the Navajo Nation Council, Confirming the Nominations of the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council to the Eastern Navajo Land Commission Sponsor: Hon. LoRenzo Bates
f. Legislation 0069-15: An Act relating to Law and Order, Naabik’íyáti’ and Navajo Nation Council; Supporting Arizona H.B. 2185, “An Acting Making An Appropriation To The Department of Economic Security” Sponsor: Hon. Otto Tso Co-Sponsors: Hon. Kee Allen Begay, Hon. Jonathan Perry, Hon. Raymond Smith, Jr.
g. Legislation 0076-15: An Action relating to the Resources and Development Committee and the Nabik’íyáti’ Committee; Supporting the Utah Diné Bikyah Conservation Proposal for the Federal Designation of Bear’s Ears National Conservation Area/National Monument in San Juan County, Utah, to Protect Native Rights and Interests on Federal Lands for Future Generations Sponsor: Hon. Walter Phelps Co-Sponsor: Hon. Davis Filfred
THE NEXT NAABIK’ÍYÁTI’ COMMITTEE MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR March 26, 2015.
The proposed agenda for the Council’s March 13 special session includes:
a. Legislation 0010-15: An Action relating to Budget and Finance, Naabik’íyáti’and the Navajo Nation Council; Approving Supplemental Funding from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance in the Amount of $317,891 for the Navajo Nation Election Administration, Business Unit #101021, to fund the Continuing 2014 Navajo Nation General Election Sponsor: Hon. Dwight Witherspoon
b. Legislation 0019-15: An Act relating to Naabik’íyáti’, Budget and Finance and Navajo Nation Council; Amending CS-46-14 and Approving FY2015 General Funds Operating Budget Request in the Amount of One Million One Hundred Fifty-One Thousand Eight Hundred Eleven Dollars ($1,151,811) for the Navajo Nation Office of Legislative Services/Legislative District Assistants Program, Business Unit #New Sponsor: Hon. Edmund Yazzie Co-Sponsor: Hon. Jonathan Hale
c. Legislation 0067-15: An Action relating to Naabik’íyáti’ Committee and the Navajo Nation Council, Confirming the Nominations of the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council to the Eastern Navajo Land Commission Sponsor: Hon. LoRenzo Bates
Dr. Rita Hartung Cheng, president for Northern Arizona University of Flagstaff, is also on the proposed Council agenda to give a report.