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National Congress of American Indians:Legislative and Administrative Update

December 20, 2018

 

Congressional Update

S. 3755 Introduced in the Senate

2018 Farm Bill Passes

S. 245 Passes House and Senate

FY 2019 Appropriations Update

Nomination of Eric Miller to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Resolutions Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of ICWA

 

Hearings

SCIA Receives Testimony on Missing and Murdered Persons in Indian Country

 

Administration Update

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Conference Call on “Broken Promises: Continuing

Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans”

DOI Establishing BIE Committee and Notice of Public Meetings

HUD Seeks Comments on Section 184 Indian Housing Loan Guarantee Regulations

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to Host Tribal Consultation

EPA Seeks Comments on Comprehensive Revision of the Clean Water Act’s 404(g) 

Permitting Program

ED Tribal Consultation on the STEP Program

DOT Announces $300 Million for Federal Lands and Tribal Projects

HRSA Announces Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Grant

DOJ Announces Public Safety and Victim Services Grant Program

Congressional Update

 

S. 3755 Introduced in the Senate

 

On December 13, 2018, Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Udall (D-NM) introduced S. 3755, a bill to establish a demonstration program regarding background checks for certain employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

 

S. 3755 would give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to conduct background checks for law enforcement positions within the Bureau of Indian Affairs; directs the Secretary to consider prior background checks; authorizes the Secretary to enter into memoranda of agreement with state, local, and tribal governments; and requires the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review the program.

 

To view Senator Hoeven’s and Senator Udall’s press release, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org

2018 Farm Bill Passes

 

On Monday, December 10, 2018, the House-Senate Conference Committee released the Farm Bill Conference Report, which includes many provisions for tribal nations, communities, and Native producers. The Senate acted quickly to pass the Conference Report on Tuesday afternoon and the House passed the Conference Report on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. The bill is now awaiting the President’s signature.

 

NCAI has worked closely with tribal nations, the Native Farm Bill Coalition, tribal organizations, and other partners to ensure that Indian Country’s priorities are included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Several key tribal provisions are featured in the Conference Report, including:

  • Expansion of Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act contracting authority (638 authority) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;
  • Expansion of 638 authority for Tribal Forest Protection Act management activities at USDA and the U.S. Department of the Interior, as well as eligibility for tribal nations to exercise Good Neighbor authority for forest management agreements with USDA and states (both of these measures will help tribal nations prevent wildfires from spreading from federal lands to tribal forest lands);
  • Establishment of a Tribal Advisory Committee at USDA to identify issues and make recommendations to the USDA Secretary; and
  • Recognition of the Office of Tribal Relations as an important function of USDA that should be within the Office of the Secretary.

To read the House and Senate Agriculture Committee’ press release, please click here.

 

To read the Native Farm Bill Coalition’s press release, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Jacob Schellinger, Director of Government Affairsjschellinger@ncai.org

S. 245 Passes House and Senate

 

On November 29, 2018, the Senate passed S. 245, the Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017. S. 245, sponsored by Senator Hoeven (R-ND), was passed by the House on December 10, 2018. The bill is currently awaiting the President’s signature.

 

S. 245 amends the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Federal Power Act, the Tribal Forest Protection act of 2004, the Energy Conservation and Production Act, and the Long-Term Leasing Act. Among other things, S. 245 directs the Department of Interior (DOI) to provide tribal nations with technical assistance in planning their energy resource development programs; expands the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program; and would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give tribal nations, in addition to states and municipalities, preference for the receipt of preliminary hydroelectric licenses. Importantly, S. 245 streamlines the process for tribal nations to enter into Tribal Energy Resource Agreements with DOI.

 

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

FY 2019 Appropriations Update

 

The current stopgap funding for seven of the 12 appropriations bills runs out December 21, which includes the Interior-Environment bill and the Commerce-Justice-Science bill. The many departments and agencies that still do not have full-year appropriations could face a shutdown after midnight Friday, when the current stopgap law (PL 115-298) expires.

 

At issue with a compromise for the remaining appropriations measures is the $5 billion that the President wants for southern border wall construction. Democratic leaders are only willing to give $1.375 billion, the same amount appropriated in fiscal year 2018. The House faces a tight schedule, with members out until Wednesday. A larger spending package for the seven bills seems unlikely before December 21. Another option is a continuing resolution that would run through January, February, or as late as May for the remaining spending bills. A full-year stopgap is what Democratic leaders are pushing. A short-term bill into January may be extended to September 30.

 

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

Nomination of Eric Miller to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Eric Miller to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during the Congressional recess on October 24.  It is highly unusual for a hearing to take place when the Senate is not in session, and only two senators, Senator Crapo (R-ID) and Senator Hatch (R-UT), attended the hearing. Mr. Miller was questioned for less than 10 minutes.

 

Mr. Miller’s nomination has been opposed by NCAI and more than 50 tribal nations and organizations. NCAI recently passed a resolution strongly opposing Miller’s nomination. NCAI and the Native American Rights Fund also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 21, 2018 that examined Mr. Miller’s record on tribal issues. Mr. Miller has sided against tribal interests in a laundry list of cases and has consistently made arguments intended to diminish tribal sovereignty. He has attempted to explain his record by saying that he was simply a lawyer representing his clients and the positions taken do not necessarily reflect his personal views. However, this fails to explain why he took several anti-tribal cases on a pro bono basis, which means he agreed to work on those cases without being paid.

 

The Ninth Circuit includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. There are 427 federally recognized tribal nations in the Ninth Circuit, more than any other federal Court of Appeals. Because the Ninth Circuit hears more tribal cases than any other, it is a leader in the field of federal Indian law and it feeds more tribal cases into the Supreme Court than any other circuit court. A nominee like Eric Miller should be strongly opposed by tribal nations and all Native people.

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a business meeting for Thursday, November 29, 2018 to vote on Mr. Miller’s nomination, but the meeting was cancelled. We urge tribal nations to continue to weigh in with their senators and the Senate Judiciary Committee to let them know that Eric Miller should not be confirmed for a lifetime seat on this important court, and that we expect individuals nominated for federal judgeships to respect and uphold tribal rights. NCAI has prepared a sample tribal resolution and a sample tribal letter of opposition for tribal nations to use in their opposition efforts. Please notify NCAI if your tribal nation sends a letter or resolution.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org

Resolutions Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act 

 

On November 27, 2018, the House and Senate introduced resolutions commemorating the 40 year anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978. S. Res. 707 and H. Res. 1159 recognize the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and tribal nations, as well as the trust responsibility owed to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. The Senate passed S. Res. 707 on December 13, 2018, and H. Res. 1159 is still pending in the House.

 

The resolutions highlight the tragic history behind the passage of the 1978 Act and reaffirms that ICWA “(1) adheres to principles of tribal sovereignty; (2) promotes the best interest of AI/AN children; and (3) ensures child welfare systems follow best practices and treat AI/AN children fairly”. The resolutions also stress that, while ICWA has made improvements to the child welfare system, ICWA protections are still needed today.

 

To view the Senate resolution, please click here.

 

To view the House resolution, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Kelbie Kennedy, Policy Counsel, kkennedy@ncai.org

Hearings
SCIA Receives Testimony on Missing and Murdered Persons in Indian Country

 

Last Wednesday, December 12, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing to receive testimony on “Missing and Murdered: Confronting the Silent Crisis in Indian Country.”

 

Witnesses included Mr. Charles Addington, Deputy Associate Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services; Mr. Robert Johnson, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division for the Federal Bureau of Investigations; Mr. Gerald LaPorte, Director of the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences for the National Institute of Justice; the Honorable Amber Crotty, Delegate of the Navajo Nation Council; Ms. Patricia Alexander, Co-Chair of the VAWA Taskforce; and Ms. Kimberly Loring-Heavy Runner.

 

For witness testimony and a recording of the hearing, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Virginia Davis, Senior Advisorvdavis@ncai.org

Administration Update

 

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

December 20, 2018, 1:00 p.m. EST

On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will release Broken 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 2003 report found that funding for services critical to Native Americans was disproportionally lower than that for other populations. The Broken Promises report is based on expert and public input, including from NCAI, and extensive research and analysis. It will offer recommendations to the President, Congress, and numerous federal agencies.

 

The teleconference will be held on Thursday, December 20, at 1:00 p.m. EST

 

Call-in number:  (855) 719-5012

Conference ID: 4729980.

 

Please RSVP to publicaffairs@usccr.gov.

 

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

DOI Announces Establishment of BIE Standards, Assessments, and Accountability System Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

 

The Department of the Interior issued a notice for the establishment of a Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Standards, Assessments, and Accountability System Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. The Committee will advise the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) through the BIE and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs on the development of regulations to fulfill the Secretary’s responsibility to define standards, assessments, and an accountability system consistent with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) section 1111 (20 U.S.C. 6311) for schools funded by BIE on a national, regional, or tribal basis, taking into account the unique circumstances and needs of such schools and the students they serve.

 

BIE has held Committee meetings in Billings (Montana), Albuquerque (New Mexico), and Arlington (Virginia). There is one confirmed date for Committee meetings as well as a webinar in the spring of 2019.

 

Date Time Location
Monday, January 14 – Thursday, January 17, 2018 TBD Phoenix, Arizona
Webinar, Spring 2019 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST Via Teleconference

1 (866) 818-9861

Participant code: 70319382

 

The meetings will cover the committee’s roles and protocols, existing regulations, as well as take oral comments. Meetings will be open to the public. It is imperative that tribal leaders attend to ensure diverse perspectives are represented.

 

Written comments can be mailed to:

Ms. Sue Bement

C/O The Office of Regulatory Affairs and Collaborative Action

1001 Indian School Road NW, Suite 312

Albuquerque, NM 87104

 

To submit comments by email, send comments to BIEcomments@bia.gov

 

For questions, call (952) 851-5427.

 

For more information, please click here.

 

NCAI Contact Info: Nicholas Courtney, Policy Analyst, ncourtney@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.

 

For an electronic copy of the Dear Tribal Leader letter, please click here.

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

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to Host Tribal Consultation on Reconsideration of Its Final Rule

Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 

2:00 pm —                         4:00 pm EST

 

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) invites tribal leaders to participate in a tribal consultation on the Bureau’s Reconsideration of its Final Rule for Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans.

 

To better inform the Bureau’s current rulemaking process, the Bureau is specifically interested in hearing feedback on the following issues:

  1. What steps, if any, have you taken to date to comply with the Payday Rule?
  2. If the Payday Rule’s current August 19, 2019 compliance date is not delayed, would you be ready to comply at that time? If you do not believe you would be ready for compliance without an extension of the compliance date, could you share the reasons why?
  3. If you do not believe you would be ready to comply by the August 19, 2019 compliance date, what additional steps would you need to take in order to comply, and how much time do you think that would require?
  4. Are there any market developments or recent implementation challenges that might impact the time and resources needed to come into compliance with the current Payday Rule?

The consultation will be held on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (1700 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20552) from 2:00 p.m. —                          4:00 p.m. EST.

 

To participate online, please click here.

Conference number: PWXW8520554

Audience passcode: 4091812

Conference line: 1-210-839-8793, Passcode: 4091812

 

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

 

NCAI Contact Info: Jacob Schellinger, Director of Government Affairsjschellinger@ncai.org

EPA Seeks Comments on Comprehensive Revision of the Clean Water Act’s 404(g) Permitting Program

Comment Deadline Friday, December 21, 2018

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to “modernize” Section 404(g) by engaging in “the first comprehensive revision [of] the existing 404(g) regulations since 1988.” Section 404(g) of the Clean Water Act provides the authority for states and tribal nations to take over dredge and fill permitting programs. The EPA is seeking tribal input before engaging in revisions and publication in the Federal Register.

 

Broadly, the EPA is seeking tribal-specific comments in four areas:

  1. Potential Impediments to Assumption – Including Options for Partial Assumption
  2. Areas of the Regulations that Need More Clarity – Clarifying the Scope of Assumable Waters
  3. Practical Implications – Including Calculating the Economic Costs and Benefits of the Rule
  4. Other Potential Issues – E.G. Mitigation, Self-Issuance of Permits, and Consistency Issues

If tribal leaders have any questions or would like to meet about this proposed rulemaking effort, please contact Karen Gude at gude.karen@epa.gov or call (202) 564-0831.

 

Additional information about the 404(g) program may be found here.

 

To view the tribal consultation letter, coordination plans, and EPA’s Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System (TCOTS), please click here.

 

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

U.S. Department of Education Seeks Comments on the Office of Indian Education’s State Tribal Education Partnership Program (STEP).

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education (OIE), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), and the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education held a tribal consultation regarding the OIE State Tribal Education Partnership program.

 

Because fiscal year 2019 would be the first grant competition for the STEP program under the revised program authority under section 6132 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, defining and clarifying definitions in the 2019 notice would qualify for an exemption to the public comment requirements that govern many competitions at the Department. However, in order to establish definitions, priorities, selection criteria, or requirements for future competitions under this statutory authority, OESE is required to undergo notice-and-comment rulemaking through the Federal Register.

 

To submit written comments, please email tribalconsultation@ed.gov.

 

The deadline for receiving written public comments is January 13, 2019.

 

For more information, please click here.

 

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

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $300 Million for Federal Lands and Tribal Projects

Deadline TODAY, December 17, 2018

 

On October 3,  the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) making $300 million available through its Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program (NSFLTP). Funding under this program is available for the first time to build and repair roads and bridges that serve tribal or federal lands.

 

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act established NSFLTP to provide financial assistance for the construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of transportation projects providing access to or located on federal or tribal lands. Under NSFLTP, the federal share of a project can be up to 90 percent and can be used to improve the condition of a critical transportation facility. Large-scale projects with estimated construction costs of $50 million or more are given priority consideration for selection, but the program will accept projects with estimated construction costs of at least $25 million.

 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and evaluated quarterly, until available funding has been exhausted. The first application deadline is December 17, 2018. After that, subsequent deadlines will be 11:59 pm on the last business day of the next fiscal quarter.

 

To review the NOFO, please click here.

 

To apply, please click here.

 

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

HRSA Announces Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Grant

 

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a planning grant for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. This $24 million grant is expected to have 120 awardees and is available to all domestic public, private, non-profit, and for-profit entities, including tribal nations and tribal organizations. The grant focuses on the prevention and treatment of high risk populations in rural communities.

 

The grant deadline is January 15, 2019.

 

For more information on eligibility and the application, please click here.

 

Last modified: March 14, 2022

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