Legislative effort to seek for-profit status for company withdrawn

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FARMINGTON — A proposal for the tribe to petition the U.S. secretary of the interior to review and approve a federal charter of incorporation for the Navajo Transitional Energy Company was among bills the tribal council did not consider during a year-end special session.

The council approved an agenda that listed 16 measures, but only two were approved by delegates. The rest of the bills failed, were tabled or were withdrawn by the sponsor.

Under the proposal, NTEC would become a for-profit corporation, also known as a Section 17 corporation, under the Indian Reorganization Act.

Delegate Benjamin Bennett, the bill's sponsor, said in a telephone interview today that he withdrew his sponsorship on Dec. 31 because the legislation did not have enough votes to pass.

Although the agenda listed the bill as needing a simple majority to pass, a review by the council's attorneys revealed the measure required a two-thirds majority to pass, Bennett said.

NTEC CEO Clark Moseley said in an email today that the plan and objective for NTEC to convert to a Section 17 corporation has been a longstanding priority for the tribal council and was anticipated as far back as the creation of the company.

"We have worked collaboratively with the council for several years to achieve their vision, and we look forward to continuing to work with the incoming council to achieve passage of the Section 17 enabling legislation," Clark said.

Members of the 24th tribal council will take the oath of office on Jan. 15.

In the meantime, tribal law mandates that no new legislation can be introduced from Jan. 1 through the seating of a new council.

The current council's standing committees may continue to meet during that time but only to receive reports or review journals from previous meetings.

The two measures approved by the council were passed by simple majority.

The first amends the provision for election disputes under the election code.

The council also amended the permanent fund income's five-year expenditure plan for projects in the Central Agency.

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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