Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin withhold gaming funds from two Tribes

November 23, 2023
By

The Governor has urged that the funds be released, regardless of ‘ongoing disputes' over taxation and road closures on the Tribes' reservations.

This week, Republican co-chairs in Wisconsin, Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Mark Born, stated that gaming funds will be withheld from two local Tribes due to the Bad River and Lac du Flambeau Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribes taking “adverse actions against their fellow Wisconsinites.”

According to local reports, around $2m in gaming funds have not been released, though democratic Governor Tony Evers has requested that the committee do so.

The republican lawmakers also said, “While we respect their autonomy as a Tribe, we must also respect the taxpayers who are suffering as a result of the Tribes’ decisions. They have prevented access to private properties, levied unreasonable fees on local municipalities and are causing skyrocketing property taxes all due to their actions.”

Four roads were barricaded on the Lac du Flambeau reservation between the end of January and mid-March this year. Previous agreements allowed non-Tribal residents to use reservation roads as a way to access homes off the reservation, but now the surrounding town pays monthly for temporary non-Tribal access. Lawsuits have been filed.

The Bad River Tribe has also had a tense relationship with its non-Tribal neighbours living on reservation lands after a federal appeals court determined that the state of Wisconsin could not tax Tribal properties. As Bad River Tribal members were removed from the local tax rolls, the surrounding town of Sanborn’s taxes greatly rose for other residents.

The Tribes, however, have claimed that not being granted access to the funding, when other Tribes in the state have, is a form of discrimination. Tribal leaders did not provide specific comments or statements, though Lac du Flambeau Tribal President John Johnson Sr previously said he believes the gaming funds may be kept from the Tribes due to ‘ongoing disputes.’

Governor Evers said, “My request to Republicans is simple: stop playing politics with the Native Nations in this state and release these funds that are essential for Tribes to provide governmental services to their citizens and communities.”

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