CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 1554 is being considered on the floor on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) on March 17, 2009, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up on June 16, 2010, and reported the bill by voice vote.
H.R. 1554 would transfer approximately 18 acres of federal land from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Secretary of Interior to be placed into trust for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Indian tribe. The legislation would require the tribe to pay fair market value of the property, as determined by the Secretary. In addition, the legislation would require a survey of the land to be completed before the transfer occurs. The tribe would also be required to pay the cost of the survey as well as any administrative costs involved in the transfer. Finally, the legislation would prohibit any gaming from being conducted on the transferred property.
According to testimony given to the House Natural Resources Committee by Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Andrew Ellis, the tribe purchased the Fountainhead Resort located in Eufaula, Oklahoma, at a Sheriff’s sale for $2 million in 2005. The resort consisted of nearly 50 acres of land and a five-story hotel room, as well as other recreational facilities and cabins. In addition, the property also included 18 acres of a Army Corps of Engineers lease, which housed some of the cabins and the recreational facility. According to the testimony of Mr. Ellis, “When we [the tribe] approached the Corps about buying the property that our building sat on the Corps offered to sell the entire 18+ acres to the Nation and offered to help write the legislation.” The tribe initially planned to convert to property into a resort with a casino, restaurant, children area and hotel. However, under the provisions of the legislation, the 18 acres and facility purchased from the Corps of Engineers could not be used for gaming and the tribe has stated that, “we promised the people in the area that Fountainhead would be a family destination resort and it would be much more feasible to use that building as an entertainment area for the kids.”
A CBO score for H.R. 1554 was not available as of press time.