Special session on Monday for tribal council

Noel Lyn Smith
The Navajo Nation Council building is pictured in Window Rock, Ariz. Council delegates will consider a bill on Monday that would change the chapter structure.

FARMINGTON – A bill that would add a referendum to the Nov. 8 general election ballot asking voters whether they want to change the chapter government structure will be considered by the Navajo Nation Council on Monday in Window Rock, Ariz.

In a memorandum Friday, Speaker LoRenzo Bates informed the council about the special session. On the proposed agenda, the only legislation listed for consideration by lawmakers is the referendum, which would consolidate the 110 chapter governments into a regional government structure.

Under the proposal the positions of chapter president, vice president and secretary-treasurer would be eliminated and replaced with elected commissioners.

The legislation received "do pass" recommendations from the Resources and Development and Naa'bik'íyáti' committees but the council serves as the final authority.

During the public comment period, the bill received one comment supporting the proposal and three comments in opposition.

Navajo Board of Election Supervisors Chairman Rodger Martinez said that if the council approves the bill, it will go on the general election ballot.

If the referendum language is not clear, the election board will provide a resolution with language that has been recommended by the council's Office of Legislative Counsel and the Office of Attorney General, according to the Navajo Election Code.

The election code also mandates that the council identify funding and make it available for the referendum election.

That process started Friday when a second bill requesting $395,425 in supplemental funding from the Undesignated Unreserved Fund Balance to pay for the referendum received support from the Budget and Finance Committee.

Committee members voted 4-0 in favor of the funding bill. It continues to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee and then to the council, where final authority rests.

The special session will be streamed live at ustream.tv/channel/navajo-nation-council.

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