Maine: House and Senate pass bill that offers Tribal communities more federal aid

June 22, 2023
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However, the proposal could be vetoed by the Governor.

Legislators in Maine recently voted to advance a bill in support of the state’s four Indigenous Tribes, according to a local report in the Portland Press Herald. The bill would permit the Tribes to “benefit from more federal laws.”

The proposal passed with overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House. The House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 100 to 74. The Senate endorsed the bill by a 26 to 8 vote.

However, advancing the proposal could potentially cause conflict with Governor Mills, who has opposed the bill and “instead prefers targeted reforms of a landmark settlement act that makes the tribes subject to state laws, unlike most other federally recognized tribes in the US.”

Passamaquoddy Tribal House Representative Aaron Dana told the Press Herald that the recent bill “would produce the largest step toward self-governance in recent history” but noted that “it falls well short of the full tribal sovereignty effort that is expected next session.”

Dana went on to comment, “The immediate and the critical impact this could have for the Wabanaki is why I say this could be the single most important bill in recent history.”

The Wabanaki Alliance said, “The 151 laws enacted by Congress since 1980 to benefit tribal communities could help improve public health, respond to natural disasters, promote economic development and protect the environment.”

Other Tribal leaders described the provision as “problematic,” citing that the Tribes have attempted to utilize federal laws on the books in the past but faced jurisdictional objections from the state.


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