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Legislative and Administrative Update

January 23, 2019

 

Congressional Update

Partial Government Shutdown Update

H.R. 375 Introduced

H.R. 292 Introduced

 

Administration Update

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report on Federal Funding

USDA Publishes Proposed Rule Regarding SNAP Work Requirement Waivers

NAGPRA Review Committee To Hold Teleconference Meeting

Army and EPA to Hold Public Meetings to Discuss Proposed Rule for WOTUS

BIE Announces Public Meeting of the Advisory Board for Exceptional Children

Alaska IRA and Fee-to-Trust Process Comment Deadline Extended

HUD Seeks Comments on Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Regulations

NAGPRA Review Committee Seeks Nominations

USDA Launches Program to Create High-Speed Internet e-Connectivity

Congressional Update
Partial Government Shutdown Update

 

The partial government shutdown is now in its twenty fourth day, a dismal record-setting length. Agencies that provide critical government services to tribal nations are caught in unrelated politics over funding for a southern border wall and the welfare of our tribal citizens hangs in the balance. Federal funding that tribal nations receive is already woefully inadequate.

 

On January 11, the House of Representatives approved legislation to reopen the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The legislation is nearly identical to legislation that passed the Senate in August 2018. In her floor Statement, Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chair-designate,  Betty McCollum (D-MN), outlined the impact of the shutdown on Indian Country. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated he will not bring any spending deals to the floor without a bipartisan agreement on a border security plan. Democrats worry that yielding on border wall funding would set a precedent for shutting down the government or refusing to increase the debt limit to force through unrelated policies.

 

The long-term effects of this shutdown will ripple throughout tribal communities for months or even years following the reopening of the government. NCAI urges the President and Congress to end this government stalemate, fulfill their trust and treaty promises to tribal nations, and invest in the future of all Americans. We also urge interim steps such as passing H.R. 195, which would provide funding at the fiscal year 2018 level for the Indian Health Service, and exploring moving such programs to mandatory funding as opposed to discretionary appropriations, which can be interrupted by irrelevant policy disputes. NCAI and other national tribal organizations sent a letter urging the President and Congress to immediately end the partial government shutdown, which breaks  trust obligations the federal government owes to tribal nations.

 

To view the joint letter from NCAI and other national tribal organization that outlines the wide-ranging impacts of the shutdown on Indian Country, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Amber Ebarb, Budget and Policy Analyst, aebarb@ncai.org

H.R. 375 Introduced

 

On January 9, 2019, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced H.R. 375, a bill to amend the Act of June 18. 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, and for other purposes.

 

H.R. 375 is cosponsored by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Derrick Beetso, General Counseldbeetso@ncai.org

H.R. 292 Introduced

 

On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, Congressman John Curtis (R-UT) introduced H.R. 292, to allow certain state and tribal permitting authority to encourage expansion of broadband service to rural and tribal communities, and for other purposes.

 

H.R. 292 has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and House Committee on Agriculture for consideration.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Tyler Scribner, Policy Analyst, tscribner@ncai.org

 

Administration Update

 

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases “Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans”

 

On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released its reportBroken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans. The report revisits the Commission’s 2003 reportA Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country, which evaluated expenditures of federal agencies on Native American programs.

 

The Broken Promises report is based on expert and public input, including from NCAI, and extensive research and analysis. The report found that funding for services critical to Native Americans was disproportionally lower than that for other populations. Key findings from the report include:

  • Federal programs designed to support the social and economic wellbeing of Native Americans remain underfunded and sometimes inefficiently structured.
  • Unequal treatment of tribal governments and lack of full recognition of their sovereign status by state and federal governments, laws, and policies diminish tribal self-determination and negatively impact health, criminal justice, education, housing, and economic outcomes.
  • The federal government has failed to keep accurate, consistent, and comprehensive records of federal spending on Native American programs, making monitoring of federal spending to meet its trust responsibility difficult.

The report also offers recommendations to the President, Congress, and numerous federal agencies on how to honor trust obligations to tribal nations.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Amber Ebarb, Budget and Policy Analystaebarb@ncai.org

USDA Publishes Proposed Rule Regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a proposed rule that modifies standards for waivers that allow able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for more than three months in a 36-month period regardless of their work status. The proposed rule encourages broader application of the statutory ABAWD work requirements.

 

FNS also proposes ending unlimited carryover of ABAWD exemptions, which can be used by states to extend SNAP eligibility of ABAWDs subject to the time limit as provided by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. The proposed rule would limit the number of exemptions available to states each year.

 

The rule has been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register for publication, but has not yet been published. Comments will be due 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

 

Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or may be mailed to Certification Policy Branch, Program Development Division, FNS, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

To view the pre-published proposed rule, please click here.

NCAI Contact Info: Ashleigh Fixico, Wilma Mankiller Policy Fellow, afixico@ncai.org

NAGPRA Review Committee To Hold Teleconference Meeting

 

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee will hold a meeting via teleconference on January 16, 2019. The meeting will begin at approximately 2 p.m. EST and end at approximately 4 p.m. EST.

 

The agenda for the meeting includes a discussion of the Review Committee Report to Congress.

 

For information about joining the teleconference please click here.

 

For the Federal Register notice of the meeting, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counsel, dmodzelewski@ncai.org

Army and EPA to Hold Public Meetings to Discuss Proposed Rule for the Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

 

On December 11, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) signed the proposed “Revised Definition of ‘Waters of the United States'” (WOTUS) rule and have scheduled opportunities for tribal nations to engage with the agencies regarding the proposed WOTUS rule through discussion forums and webcasts. Once published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day public comment period which is anticipated to end in late February or early March 2019.

 

The agencies have also scheduled discussion forums for tribal leaders on the proposed revised WOTUS rule during the anticipated comment period. The agencies will host three half-day discussion forums for tribal leaders and tribal representatives at the following locations:

 

Location Date Registration Deadline
Kansas City, Kansas January 23, 2019 The registration deadline is January 17, 2019.
Santa Fe, New Mexico February 7, 2019 TBD
Savannah, Georgia February 21, 2019 TBD

 

Tribal leaders and tribal representatives interested in attending one of the discussion forums should send an email indicating their interest to wotus-outreach@epa.gov.

 

The EPA and Army will consult with individual tribal nations upon request. Tribal leaders may request consultation with the agencies on the proposed rule by contacting cwawotus@epa.gov.

 

If tribal leaders have any other questions, please contact Rose Kwok at  kwok.rose@epa.gov or Cindy Barger at cindy.s.barger.civ@mail.mil.

 

To view the pre-publication version of the proposed rule, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counseldmodzelewski@ncai.org

BIE Announces Public Meeting of the Advisory Board for Exceptional Children

 

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) is announcing a public meeting of the Advisory Board for Exceptional Children in order to meet the mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) for Indian children with disabilities. The Advisory Board was established under the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004 (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) to advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, on the needs of Indian children with disabilities. The meeting is open to the public.

 

Date Time Location
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Begins at 1:00 p.m., and ends at 4:30 p.m. MDT Hogan Building

9169 Coors Boulevard NW,

Albuquerque, NM 87120

Thursday, January 17, 2019 Begins at 8:30 a.m., and ends at 4:30 p.m. MDT 1011 Indian School Road NW,

Room 234,

Albuquerque, NM 87104

Friday, January 18, 2019 Begins at 8:30 a.m., and ends at 4:30 p.m. MDT 1011 Indian School Road NW,

Room 326,

Albuquerque, NM 87104

 

Interested parties may submit relevant information or questions for the Board to consider during the public meeting. Written comments received in advance of the meeting will be made available to the Advisory Board for their consideration.

 

Written comments can be emailed to the Designated Federal Officer (DFO), Jennifer Davis, at jennifer.davis@bie.edu; or mailed to the Bureau of Indian Education, Attention: Jennifer Davis, DFO, 2600 N Central Avenue, Suite 800, Phoenix, Arizona 85004.

 

For the final agenda, please click here.

 

For more information, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Nicholas Courtney, Policy Analystncourtney@ncai.org

Consultation Update: Alaska IRA and Fee to Trust Process in Alaska

Comment deadline extended to January 25, 2019

 

The Department of the Interior (DOI) initiated two Alaska-specific reviews, dealing with the authority of DOI to take land into trust for Alaska Native tribal governments, and the authority to organize as tribal governments under the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act (IRA).

 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has rescheduled the Bethel and Kotzebue consultations to January 16 and January 17, 2019. The times and exact locations are still unconfirmed, but these consultations will follow the format of the prior consultations with the Alaska IRA consultation in the morning and Land-into-Trust consultation in the afternoon.

 

NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) are also developing comments in response to these consultations. NCAI encourages all tribal nations and intertribal organizations to contact Heather Kendall Miller, NARF Senior Staff Attorney, at kendall@ncai.org to sign onto the draft comments.

 

To view the latest draft comments, please click here.

 

For more information on the consultations, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Derrick Beetso, General Counseldbeetso@ncai.org

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Seeks Comments on Draft Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Regulations

 

On November 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a Dear Tribal Leader letter seeking tribal input on the regulations for the Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee program.

 

HUD is currently revising the regulations for the Section 184 program and seeks comments on draft Subpart B and draft Subpart C. Once HUD has drafted the complete set of proposed regulations, they will send another copy of the draft proposed rule to tribal nations for comment via a “Dear Tribal Leader letter” with a 60-day comment period. Once this tribal comment period is over and any comments received are considered, HUD will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public comment.

 

Please email comments to 184consultation@hud.gov.

 

To view the Dear Tribal Leader letter, please click here.

NCAI Contact Info: Tyler Scribner, Policy Analysttscribner@ncai.org

 NAGPRA Review Committee Seeks Nominations

 

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Review Committee requests nominations of a traditional religious leader for the Committee. The Secretary will consider nominations submitted by tribal nations, Native Hawaiian organizations, or traditional Native religious leaders.

 

Nominations should be submitted to:

 

Melanie O’Brien, Designated Federal Officer, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee, National NAGPRA Program (2253), National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Room 7360, Washington, DC 20240 OR via email to: nagpra_info@nps.gov

 

Additional submission requirements are listed in the Federal Register notice and can be found here.

 

Nominations must be submitted by March 28, 2019.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Darren Modzelewski, Policy Counsel, dmodzelewski@ncai.org

USDA Launches New Program to Create High-Speed Internet e-Connectivity in Rural America

 

On December 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced up to $600 million in loans and grants as part of the newly-created ReConnect Program. This pilot program allows certain telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers, and municipalities to apply for funding to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service.

 

USDA Rural Development is the primary agency delivering the program, with assistance from other federal partners. Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

 

To help with the application process, USDA is holding a series of online webinars and regional in-person workshops. The full list of upcoming public webinars and workshops, as well as program descriptions and eligibility requirements can be found at the ReConnect Program’s webpage.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Tyler Scribner, Policy Analyst, tscribner@ncai.org

Last modified: June 26, 2020

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