Tribal lawmakers meet for the fall session

Noel Lyn Smith

FARMINGTON - The Navajo Nation Council will start the fall session at 10 a.m. Monday at the council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz.

Members of the Navajo Nation Council meet Jan. 26 for the start of the 2015 Winter Session at the council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz. A special session of the council begins Friday.

A number of reports and bills are listed on the proposed agenda, including the state of the nation address from Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye.

The council will consider two bills sponsored by Delegate Davis Filfred, who represents the Aneth, Mexican Water, Red Mesa, Teec Nos Pos and Tólikan chapters.

Filfred’s first bill proposes authorizing the tribe to secure a $20 million bond. The money would be used to purchase an aircraft as well as equipment to maintain the aircraft, according to the bill language.

His second bill requests $500,000 in supplemental funding from the tribe’s Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance, or UUFB, for Teec Nos Pos Chapter to renovate its chapter house in Arizona.

Since May, the chapter administration has been operating from the Navajo Nation Veterans Office after the facility’s roof was heavily damaged by rain, according to the bill.

The bill includes a chapter resolution stating that the Navajo Nation Occupational Safety Health Administration deemed the building unsafe for occupancy in February.

Delegate Lee Jack Sr., who represents Dilkon, Greasewood Springs, Indian Wells, Teesto and White Cone chapters, is sponsoring a request for approximately $2.9 million in supplemental funding from the UUFB to construct a new chapter house in Teesto, Ariz.

In September 2014, the Teesto Chapter house was burned to the ground due to arson, according to a chapter resolution attached to the bill.

Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, who represents Forest Lake, Hardrock, Kíts'íílí, Piñon and Whippoorwill chapters, is sponsoring a request for $132,413 in supplemental funding from the UUFB to extend power lines to four residences in the Navajo Partitioned Land area in Forest Lake Chapter in Arizona.

Delegate Jonathan Hale, who represents Oak Springs and St. Michaels chapters, is sponsoring a bill to approve a tribal grant and a request for approximately $2.4 million in supplemental funding from the UUFB for the St. Michaels Association for Special Education Inc.

Delegate Edmund Yazzie, who represents the Church Rock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale, Smith Lake and Thoreau chapters, is sponsoring a bill to use $163,040 from the tribe’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund to purchase about 82 acres of land in Gallup.

There are five pieces of legislation that propose amendments to the Navajo Nation Code.

Delegate Walter Phelps, who represents Cameron, Coalmine Canyon, Leupp, Tolani Lake and Tsídii To’ii chapters, is sponsoring a bill to increase the voting membership on the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission from eight to nine.

Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd, who represents Cornfields, Ganado, Jeddito, Kin Dah Lichíí’ and Steamboat chapters, is sponsoring legislation to amend the legislative process for bills assigned to the council and its standing committees.

Three bills to further amend tribal law are sponsored by Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr., who represents Blue Gap-Tachee, Cottonwood-Tselani, Low Mountain, Many Farms and Nazlini chapters.

The first bill would amend the membership, qualification and removal sections for the Judicial Conduct Commission.

Begay’s other bills propose the creation of the Navajo Nation Business Court and the Navajo Nation Police Commission.

The police commission would serve as an independent entity. It would also provide oversight of the tribe’s law enforcement and act as the liaison between communities, law enforcement and the executive and legislative branches.

Begay is also sponsoring a bill that would ask voters to approve using a portion of the principle balance of the Permanent Trust Fund to build judicial and public safety facilities.

Three pieces of legislation are calling for the confirmation of appointments within the president’s administration.

The council will consider bills to confirm Terrelene G. Massey as executive director of the Division of Social Services, Donald Benn as executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and Bidtah Becker as executive director of the Division of Natural Resources.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636.