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Proposed Navajo Nation Alcohol Tax legislation returns to Budget & Finance Committee
May 14, 2015 Professional Journal

NAVAJO NATION COUNCIL DEBATING LEGISLATION 0084-15: AN ACTION RELATING TO HEALTH, EDUCATIN AND HUMAN SERVICES, RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, BUDET AND FINANCE, LAW AND ORDER, NAABIK’IYATI’ AND NAVAJO NATIN COUNCIL; AMENDING NAVAJO NATIN CODE TITLE 24 BY ENACTING THE ALCOHOL TAX.

SPONSOR, DELEGATE EDMUND YAZZIE
This legislation would generate about $60,000 for police to use to buy equipment, have sobriety checks, go to schools and educate. This 3.2 percent tax would generate about $60,000 in revenues.

NAVAJO NATION TAX DIRECTOR MARTIN ASHLEY
The .2 percent tax would generate about $5,000 for the tribal tax office to administer this tax.

DELEGATE LEE JACK
Our police need assistance. there is more violence on the reservation. i know casinos oppose this and i’d like to hear from them, especially how it’ll impact their revenues. but if go outside, you pay even more taxes, four times more. nonetheless,

DELEGATE MEL BEGAY
i hope this proposed tax is a wake up call for the need that police have to operate and serve in safe atmosphere.
However with this approach, it will not reach that goal. it is evident that it will only provide something that will not even accomodate police with safe equipment. as citizens and delegates to deal with balancing government to be serve people to their best that involves casinos which are expected to bring financial stability to navajo nation.
and this is also about entertainment, where alcohol is involved but not all casino custmoers consume liquor.
and casinos have operating costs, including payroll. and this tax would negatively impact casino operations, which includes maintenance. and so we need a good analysis of the impact of this alcohol sale.
or we could go for something bigger. the tribe pays $500,000 annually to administer federal contracts and grants. so instead of giving public safety $60,000, let’s sit at a table and decide where there is more financial support for police.

DELEGATE OTTO TSO
in tuba city, the fire department is all volunteer.
if tuba city in that boat then crownpoint, chinle, shiprock, kayenta in that same boat.
if more staff, save more homes, reduce crime, remove bootlegging.
Last night the Tuba City fire department sent 80 percent of their equipment for recalibration and the cost is about $50,000.
we have to start somewhere to generate additional revenue for police. i think tuba city chapter is only chapter that funds two positions with fire department.
they don’t have to be there but they are.

DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
i was looking at committees’ action and saw that when this legislation went before Budget & Finance Committee that there was second and so there was no action. does this mean that this legislation returns to B&F.
and casino already contributing to police, fire safety. if do audit, lot of that funding stays with administration and doesn’t reach the police for mileage and overtime.
money from casino buught division of public safety secretary a new vehicle to drive around here.
and how does 3.2 percent tax generate revenues from Dine’ Healthy Food Tax.
and will this tax drive away customers? to me this will hinder casinos instead of helping chapters do what they need to do such as funding local police.
and are we over the tax limit? i see no resolution from tax commission.
and chapters that are certified should have first access to possible taxing of liquor sales at casinos in their area.

CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY
UNDER committee rules, rule 11, if no second then legislation automatically striken from committee agenda but because Budget and Finance Committee not final authority then have to go to another sectin of law that legislation that does not get action by committee that does not have final authority continues to move forward.-

DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
I disagree. If your interpretation is true then all legislation on Naabik’iyati Committee can move forward without Naabi action. And i ask that Speaker Pro Temp Mel Begay call this legislation out of order.

CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL HENRY
the interpretation is that legislation moves forward if there is a motion but no second.

SPEAKER PRO TEMP MEL BEGAY
yes the budget and finance committee is responsible for financial matters. but i am a member of the B&F and so there is a conflict.

DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY
we need to think about why casinos built. it was with the thought that the customers would be tourists and non-navajos. but it’s navajo sthat fill up the casinos. and we are all aware of the problems that navajo people have with alcohol and the empty liquor containers along the roads. and my community, which has activities, such as rug auctions and other tourist attractions, is right next to casino. where was the planning.
taxation is a necessary evil and responsibility of any government. we are here to regulate and not dictate. so we must be aware of how we bring these policies to our people.
as i listen to debate here and to my constituents who oppose alcohol, i also consider the outside dollars that go to border towns and never return. so i ask my colleagues to seriously look at tourism dollars

during the presentation by Delegate Jonathan Perry, Speaker LoRenzo Bates returns to the council chambers and so Delegate Mel Begay is no longer speaker pro temp. And after Begay returns to his seat on the floor, he says that his decision is to rule the alcohol tax legislation out of order so the integrity of Budget and Finance Committee is maintained.

Sponsor, Delegate Edmund Yazzie opposes Begay’s position and pleads with Bates to rule.

SPEAKER LORENZO BATES
if there is no second, the legislation is automatically striken from committee agenda, however B&F not final authority. Council is final authority.

DELEGATE ALTON SHEPHERD
when i questined attorney henry, i did cuz this impacts integrity of all committees. he said legislation on agenda and all read into record. and so other committees could use what Henry advised. what i raised is Rule 11, no second and shall be voided. and when look into 164, 12, which Henry cited, it states “sufficient vote.” B&F which oversees all financial matters has to be allowed to debate and take action on this legislation. other legislation had motion and second and legislation was withdrawn after debate. this legislation had no second, no debate so it is out of order.

SPEAKER BATES
recognizing your position. let’s look at similar situation at Naabi, where legislation by virtue of inaction of committee, they held those legislation almost to point of killing legislation until returned to this body and Naabi forced that committee to take action. so ask Delegate Shepherd to make motion for legislation to return to B&F.

DELEGATE SHEPHERD
every committee same, Naabi not higher than other committees so i leave up to Naabi to when bring this legislation back before them.

DELEGATE KEE ALLEN BEGAY
here in committee report, the B&F Committee Chair referred to Law & Order.

DELEGATE LEONARD TSOSIE
i was looking at same language and realize that Title 2 does not allow committee chairperson to move legislation forward so Chairperson Jonathan Nez waived his committee’s review. But we need to look at this and relates to yes means no which gets us stuck in sand. i recommend that committee allowed to not to act for 60 days before legislation moves forward. i like that ruling that legislation moves along. And if no decision by B&F chair then i would side with Delegate Shepherd.

VOTE ON MOTION TO RETURN ALCOHOL TAX LEGISLATION BACK TO BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE – 9 in favor, 6 opposed

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