Based on the Navajo Council agenda, the Council is now on Legislation 0010-15: An Action Relating To Budget And Finance, Naa’bik’iyati’ 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.
MOTION BY DELEGATES LEONARD TSOSIE AND BEN BENNETT TO SUSPEND COUNCIL FLOOR AND ALLOW MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES FOR EACH DELEGATE TO DEBATE.
VOTE IS 9 IN FAVOR, 11 OPPOSED
MOTION BY DELEGATES LEONARD TSOSIE AND NORMAN BROWN FOR AMENDMENT:
1. ON PAGE 1, LINE 15, STRIKE THE WORD “GENERAL” AND PLURALIZE THE WORD “ELECTION”; 2. ON PAGE 2, LINE 3, INSERT A NEW PARAGRAPH AS FOLLOWS: g. THERE BEING SO MANY NAVAJO VOTERS WHO ARE CLAIMING THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF THEIR VOTES AS A RESULT OF NAVAJO SUPREME COURT DECISION AND THE PRESIDENT REQUESTING THAT THE QUESTION OF “FLUENCY OF NAVAJO LANGUAGE” REQUIREMENT BE RESOLVED BY THE NAVAJO PEOPLE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE THE NAVAJO PEOPLE DECIDE WHETHER TO AMEND 11 N.N.C. SECTION 8, A, 4 AS FOLLOWS: SECIION 8. QUALIFICATIONS FOR OFFICE. A. QUALIFICATIONS FOR PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT ARE: 4. MUST BE ABLE TO SPEAK AND UNDERSTAND THE NAVAJO AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE; AND THIS ABILITY SHALL BE DETERMINED BY THE NAVAJO VOTER WHEN HE/SHE CASTS A BALLOT. 4. ON PAGE 2, LINE 18, INSERT A NEW PARAGRAPH AS FOLLOWS: AFTER THE CERTIFICATION OF THE REFERENDUM VOTE BY NAVAJO ELECTION ADMINISTRATION, THE SPEAKER SHALL CALL A SPECIAL SESSION TO ADDRESS THE GENERAL ELECTION FOR NAVAJO NATION OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT. 5. RENUBMER OR RELETTER SUCCEEDING PARAGRAPHS OR SECTIONS ACCORDINGLY, IF NECESSARY; AND THIS AMENDMENT SHALL SUPERSEDE INCONSISTENT LANGUAGE CONTAINED IN ANY OTHER COMMITTEE AMENDMENT, WHICH SHALL BE CONFORMED TO THE INTENT OR LANGUAGE OF THIS AMEMDMENT.
SPEAKER LORENZO BATES RULES DELEGATES LEONARD TSOSIE AND NORMAN BROWN AMENDMENT OUT OF ORDER.
DELEGATES LEONARD TSOSIE AND EDMUND YAZZIE CHALLENGE SPEAKER’S DECISION.
DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE
it bothers me that we are shutting down Navajo people. we are taping their mouths. It is in order. My amendment is not a substitution and that is why my amendment is a two step process. we are not doing a feral horse roundup.
DELEGATE EDMUND YAZZIE
we always stick by ruling of Council. this amendment is done in right way. an amendment is an amendment. there was a motion and it was seconded. it’s lawful. this amendment is right and i ask that we over-rule Speaker’s decision.
DELEGATE DWIGHT WITHERSPOON
my concern about challenge is that the intent was to fund presidential election and amendment is not that. the funding would be for Navajo language fluency referendum. my colleague says that it is an extension of my legislation. other concern i have is that it will certainly go back to court and that would create more division. if we cud have referendum that would provide direction but i feel this will take back to court and put us in same spot. Supreme Court has ruled that Navajo language be a requirement for the highest position in the Navajo government.
DELEGATE MEL BEGAY
this is just one more step before special presidential election. this is also about the people adjusting the Navajo language fluency requirement. and some people probably support having the Navajo language fluency requirement apply to all elected officials. it is important for people to have their input on their Navajo government. this benefits all three branches.
DELEGATE BEN BENNETT
regarding referendum, this is an opportunity for us to reform Navajo government for generations to come. i’ve been hearing on radio and newspaper that there is election on April 21 and so I thought that election was funded. and so if not funded, then poor planning by election office.
DELEGATE LEONARD PETE
if referendum approved, will this be adequate time for people to be educated about Navajo language fluency. some of our people live in rural areas and they may not hear the news. (People in gallery murmur about Delegate Pete’s concern for rural Navajos) I had an elder tell me that he disagreed with possible removal of Navajo language fluency and that is was under dispute, especially since the Navajo government is still young.
DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
when we took oath of office to uphold laws of Navajo Nation and there are certain reasons I bring that up. there is right way to do referendum. i am not saying no. we are responsible for putting things in proper place. i respect all our authority as council to debate. the intent is changing legislation for funding of special presidential election. right way would be for legislation for proper referendum which allows 60 days for education of referendum. and we did a challenge on Dec. 31, 2014, and our legislation was nullified because it didn’t follow legal legislative process. there was question if funded and no. the last legislation was thrown out. it’s very obvious that we have duty to do and that we do it the right way. if we keep doing this, why do we have laws if we decide to bypass laws. the amendment is out of order. the proper way would be for proper legislation with proper striking and over-striking of language.
DELEGATE SETH DAMON
Hearing all this debate and thank Delegate Shepherd that we must uphold law.
DELEGATE AMBER CROTTY
POINT OF ORDER – Rule 15, section A, regarding substitute motion and changes intent of legislation and could come before Council as entirely new legislation.
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY
Rule 15 talks to substitute motion and this is an amendment under Rule 14. otherwise it would only need to be re-drafted entirely as a new legislation.
DELEGATE SETH DAMON
the council can appropriate supplemental funding. and if challenge fails, and Delegate Witherspoon did say that a referendum was good, that Witherspoon withdraw his legislation.
DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY
step back and look at democracy, how people have input in government. but there is also education. people need to be educated. i support referendum but let us do it correctly so we can move forward as one people.
DELEGATE NORMAN BROWN
what Delegate Perry said and I’ve been attending lot of meetings, not just chapter, and education has been there. we are body of legislators and we can discuss here and we are in order to give back to people.
DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE
let’s understand what is going on here. Delegate Shepherd is trying to take us down wrong road, undemocratic road. we put all kinds of things in supplemental funding and when we funded Nahatahdzill, former Delegate Lorenzo Curley increased funding and no one opposed. When delegates say, correct way. show me Bible. council rule say any delegate may make amendment and that is what i did. i didn’t change entire legislation. there will be election but let’s have people determine question first. i said to have referendum in 30 days but if delegates want 60 days then okay.
DELEGATE OTTO TSO
There was time for this amendment to go before the Council’s committees as legislation. There still is time. Our elders come from different walks of life. I’ll sponsor referendum and put my changes in there. they had the chance to do this.
COUNCIL VOTES ON CHALLENGE TO SPEAKER RULING DELEGATES L.TSOSIE & N.BROWN AMENDMENT OUT OF ORDER.
12 IN FAVOR, 8 OPPOSED
DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
remember when we said we’d throw all rules aside and i tried to raise issue that we were going down wrong road. and Delegate L.Tsosie made an amendment that removed funding from Council’s initial funding of election. That was his poison pill. Yes we are in order to make supplemental. and Delegate Tsosie claims that this is no different than what former Delegate Curley did. that is untrue. this is the funding of a referendum. we are going down that road and we will end up in court.