CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, June 18, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1556, a bill to amend the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act to allow certain land to be used to generate income to provide funding for academic programs, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for approval. The bill was introduced on April 14, 2011, by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill without amendment by unanimous consent on December 1, 2011.
H.R. 1556 would amend the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act (P.L. 106-568) to allow land held in trust for the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico to be used for economic development projects that provide funding for the educational, health, or cultural functions of the Santa Fe Indian School. Currently, the law authorizes the land to be used solely for the educational, health, or cultural functions of that school. The bill would authorize the use of the land for economic development that benefits the school, while keeping the current prohibition on gaming in place.
According to House Report 112-306, the Sante Fe Indian School was an off-reservation Indian school controlled and operated by the 19 Pueblo Governors of New Mexico on federally owned land until December of 2000 when the land was transferred into trust for the Pueblo Governors with certain restrictions. According to the report, current law strictly states that the land taken into trust for the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico can only be used for educational, health-related, or cultural purposes and prohibits Indian gaming. H.R. 1556 would amend current law that the land already taken into trust can be used for economic purposes, while still maintaining the prohibition on Indian gaming. The funds raised by any development projects must then be used to further the education, health, or cultural functions of the school.
According to CBO, “based on information from the Department of the Interior, CBO expects that the legislation would have an insignificant impact on the agency’s administrative costs. H.R. 1556 would have no effect on direct spending or revenues because any income resulting from new economic development activities would be paid directly to the Pueblos.”