Navajo Nation Council's summer session starts Monday in Window Rock, Ariz.

Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Council is scheduled to hear the first state of the nation address from Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye when the summer session starts Monday.

The address is among a number of reports listed on the proposed agenda for the session, which starts at 10 a.m. Monday at the council chamber in Window Rock, Ariz.

There are three pieces of legislation listed on the proposed agenda that focus on appointments within Begaye's administration.

The council will consider bills to confirm Ethel Billie Branch as the tribe's attorney general, Jesse Delmar as executive director of the Division of Public Safety and Jackson Brossy as executive director of the Navajo Nation Washington Office.

Delegate Dwight Witherspoon is sponsoring legislation to amend the tribe's election code to permit a president to continue his or her term if an election, certification or oath of office for the presidency is pending.

Witherspoon, who represents the Forest Lake, Hardrock, Kíts'íílí, Piñon and Whippoorwill chapters in Arizona, is also sponsoring a bill to change the criteria for service on the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. The bill proposes that justices hold a law degree in order to serve on the high court.

Witherspoon's third bill proposes moving the tribe's Department of Personnel Management from the Division of Human Resources to the Office of the President and Vice President and amend the plan of operation for the department.

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

Additionally, Shepherd's bill proposes reducing the comment period for bills posted on the council's website from five days to three business days, and it clarifies that the comment period would start at the time the bill is placed online.

Delegate Edmund Yazzie, who represents the Church Rock, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Pinedale, Smith Lake and Thoreau chapters, is sponsoring a bill to amend the general provisions concerning tribal property, as well as sponsoring legislation to place a tax on alcohol sales. Alcohol is illegal on the Navajo Nation, with the exception of three tribal casinos that allow alcohol sales in certain areas of the gaming facilities.

The bill proposes a tax of up to 6 percent and would apply to the casinos, and to retailers and distributors of commercially processed or manufactured alcohol products. A portion of the revenue collected by the proposed tax would be used by the Division of Public Safety, according to the legislation.

Speaker LoRenzo Bates, who represents the Nenahnezad, Newcomb, San Juan, Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, Tsé Daa K'aan and Upper Fruitland chapters, is sponsoring a bill to amend the tribe's fiscal year 2015 budget, and approve an appropriation of nearly $375,000 to the Office of Legislative Services and to the legislative district assistants program.

Also listed on the proposed agenda are three bills that were tabled during the May 19 special session.

The first bill proposes placing a referendum before tribal voters to determine whether to make judges and justices elected positions.

The second measure would ask voters to increase membership on the Supreme Court from three to five justices.

The third bill seeks a referendum to allow voters to determine whether to use a portion of the principle balance of the Permanent Trust Fund to fund transportation projects.

The proposed agenda was released Friday and is not finalized until adopted by a majority vote of the council.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.