Navajo Council delegates forward priorities for NM lawmakers
Nearly 30 topics included in list headed to Santa Fe
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation Council delegates have approved legislation that voices support for legislative priorities they want New Mexico lawmakers to address during the legislative session.
The list of 29 topics was passed Wednesday during a Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee special meeting in Window Rock, Arizona.
Delegate Kee Allen Begaye Jr. sponsored the legislation, as well as three additional bills that held priority lists for state legislatures in Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
Begay said in his presentation to the committee that he wanted the list finalized and ready for distribution when delegates meet with New Mexico leaders, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, today in Santa Fe.
Among the topics on the list were capital outlay funds, the tribal infrastructure fund, veterans and the military, public safety, education, the state budget, water and water rights, gaming, energy and natural resources, roads, sexual assault prevention, health care and economic development.
The list reiterates priorities adopted by the 23rd Navajo Nation Council in November and continues to advocate for the tribe's position to state lawmakers, the bill states.
During the committee discussion on Wednesday, delegates added language to address police training and certification, and rural addressing as part of the development of enhanced 911 services.
Delegates also expressed support for additional funding to build a police station in Shiprock and a new building for the tribal police headquarters in Tsé Bonito.
Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton, who represents the Shiprock Chapter, explained that it was important for the list to state that any funding appropriated by New Mexico lawmakers will go directly to the two projects.
"I want that to be clear," she said.
The committee also backed an amendment by Delegate Rick Nez, who represents the Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tsé Daa K'aan and Upper Fruitland chapters, to support the appointment of a Navajo veteran to the New Mexico Veterans Advisory Council.
Committee postpones work session
Committee members postponed a work session on Wednesday during which they were scheduled to receive an update from the Navajo Transitional Energy Company about the Navajo Generating Station.
NTEC has been in talks about possibly acquiring the coal-fired power plant near Page, Arizona, and its coal supplier, the Kayenta Mine, located near Kayenta, Arizona.
Speaker Seth Damon announced during the meeting that committee members had agreed to postpone the work session since they were still discussing priority lists for the state legislatures.
A new date for the work session has not been announced.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.