Navajo Nation Council will meet in Window Rock, Arizona

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FARMINGTON — Two Navajo Nation Council delegates are supporting a bill to override a presidential veto that blocked changes to the Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council.

Delegates Kee Allen Begay Jr. and Olin Kieyoomia, the bill's sponsors, are seeking to overturn the move in order to enforce changes made to the Veterans Advisory Council by the tribal council.

In October, delegates approved transforming the Veterans Advisory Council to a veterans board of commissioners, and revise its membership and authority.

President Russell Begaye issued the veto in November, claiming the changes were divisive and made without input from the five agency veterans organizations.

The override bill is among 20 pieces of legislation that will be ready for consideration when the tribal council convenes Wednesday to start a three-day special session in Window Rock, Arizona.

Begay and Kieyoomia also are sponsoring a bill to establish a department of medical examiners within the tribe's Division of Public Safety.

Currently, criminal investigators carry the role and responsibility of coroners when investigating suspicious deaths on the Navajo Nation.

The bill calls for the creation of the department and assigning responsibility to medical examiners for determining how a person died. The medical examiners also would work with law enforcement officails to decide if a death was the result of a major crime.

The measure also proposes that medical examiners have the authority to issue death certificates.

Delegate Benjamin Bennett is sponsoring legislation to amend sections of the Navajo Election Code that address challenges to candidate applications.

The bill also proposes to add language to the election code for appeals submitted to the Office of Hearings and Appeals and subsequent appeals to the Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

Delegate Jonathan Hale is sponsoring a bill that seeks to confirm White Rock Chapter member Ramona Begay's appointment to the Commission on Navajo Government Development. Ramona Begay is a member of the Navajo Women's Commission, which nominated her to serve on the government development commission. If her appointment is confirmed, she would serve for two years.

There are six bills that request supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance.

The requests include $4.3 million to construct a multipurpose complex for the Low Mountain Chapter in Arizona and $2.7 million to repair a road that serves the St. Michaels Association for Special Education in St. Michaels, Arizona.

Other measures request that the council approve and adopt expenditure plans for the Síhasin Piñon Justice Center fund, the Shonto Youth Center fund, the Crownpoint Youth Center fund and the Síhasin Dilkon Justice Center fund.

The special session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the council chamber in Window Rock. It 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 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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