Maine lawmakers adjourn with no action on tribal sovereignty

Apr 25, 2022, 8:15 AM | Updated: 6:37 pm
Rep. Timothy Theriault, R-China, left, talks with Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, Monday, April...

Rep. Timothy Theriault, R-China, left, talks with Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, Monday, April 25, 2022, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. Lawmakers are meeting for an extra day of work before wrapping up the the current session. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — In a stinging disappointment for Native American tribes in Maine, the state’s Legislature adjourned Monday evening without taking action on a historic proposal to expand tribal sovereignty rights.

There was still the possibility that lawmakers could resuscitate the proposal when they return to deal with vetoes next month.

Tribal reservations in Maine are treated like municipalities, subject to state law, and the state and tribes previously have butted heads over the years on environmental, fish and wildlife rules.

Native Americans in Maine had seen the proposal as their best opportunity to make history ahead of the midterm elections, with a Democratic governor and Democratic control of the Legislature.

But the proposal generated an election-year split between legislative Democrats and Gov. Janet Mills. Pressing for incremental change, Mills encouraged legislators and tribal leaders in a letter released Monday to delay their efforts — allowing her to avoid a high-profile veto.

“I do not wish to have a confrontation,” the governor wrote. “It would serve no constructive purpose and only inflame emotions on all sides of the discussion.”

The letter was written Thursday evening, the day before the appropriations committee declined to fund the bill.

Maggie Dana, chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, told The Associated Press last week that she hoped the governor would be “on the right side of history” and agree to the tribes’ long-sought changes.

The effort to amend the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980 also came against the national backdrop of the Biden administration looking to partner with tribes on managing land and to ensure they’re consulted early on policies or actions that impact them.

But the tribes did win a legislative victory Monday.

The Legislature sent to the governor a proposal to provide online sports betting revenue to the tribes. That bill also has provisions for tribal collaboration and some tax relief.

Lawmakers earlier approved — and the governor signed — a bill that gives the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point the right to regulate its own drinking water, partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, instead of state regulators.

For the tribes, it has been a long, frustrating battle since they traded some rights to the state under an $81.5 million settlement that was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

That settlement for the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Maliseet, along with a 1991 agreement for the Mi’kmaq, put the tribes in Maine on a different footing from tribes elsewhere across the country. More than 570 other tribes have greater autonomy and partner with the federal government.

Critics of extending tribal sovereignty, including the governor, feared there could be unintended consequences and more lawsuits.

Among other things, the governor said she had concerns about removing nearly 300,000 acres of land held in trust from state or local regulations governing everything from fish and game, land use provisions and logging practices to health care and law enforcement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Uvalde schools’ police chief resigns from City Council

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo told the […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Jerry Emmett, who was born before women won the right to vote in the U.S., leaves the Yavapa...
Associated Press

Top election officials in Arizona county leave amid threats

The elected county recorder and the elections director in Arizona's Yavapai County are resigning after more than a year and a half of threats and heated criticism from backers of former President Donald Trump who accept his lie that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud.
11 hours ago
Associated Press

2 teenagers killed, 1 man wounded in Houston-area shooting

HOUSTON (AP) — Two teenagers were killed and one man was injured in a shooting at Houston-area apartment complex, authorities said Saturday. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter that deputies responded to reports of a shooting in the parking lot of the complex in north Harris County, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north […]
11 hours ago
FILE - A plane drops retardant on a wildfire near homes Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in Laguna Beach, C...
Associated Press

US testing new fire retardant, critics push other methods

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials are testing a new wildfire retardant after two decades of buying millions of gallons annually from one supplier, but watchdogs say the expensive strategy is overly fixated on aerial attacks at the expense of hiring more fire-line digging ground crews. The Forest Service used more than 50 million gallons […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the opening of the Tesla factory Berlin Brandenburg in Gruenheid...
Associated Press

Musk meets pope, uses Twitter to announce the audience

ROME (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose $44 billion bid to buy Twitter remains in limbo, used the social media platform to announce he had met with Pope Francis. “Honored to meet @Pontifex yesterday,” Musk tweeted of the Friday afternoon audience, alongside a photo showing Musk, Francis and four of Musk’s teenage children. The […]
11 hours ago
Friends and family gathered at Vadnais Lake after news of a dead child being pulled out of the lake...
Associated Press

Bodies of 2 of 3 missing kids found in Minnesota lake

VADNAIS HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned. Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Maine lawmakers adjourn with no action on tribal sovereignty