H.R. 4445: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Clarification Act

H.R. 4445

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Clarification Act

Date
June 29, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 4445 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. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) on January 13, 2010, and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which held a mark up on June 16, 2010 and reported the bill by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4445 would strike a provision in current law which prohibits the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in New Mexico from being considered “Indian Country.”  If this provision is removed, it would give the Cultural Center the same tax-exempt status as other tribal trust lands and would prohibit the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department from levying taxes on Pueblo members who engage in business at the center.  In addition, the legislation would prohibit any gaming from being conducted on the transferred property.

Background

In 1978, Public Law 97-232 was enacted, providing for the land to be placed in trust for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in New Mexico.  However, that legislation included a stipulation that, “such land shall be held in trust jointly for such Indian pueblos and shall enjoy the tax-exempt status of other trust lands, including exemption from State taxation and regulation.  However, such property shall not be ‘Indian Country’.”   Because the legislation stipulates that the land shall not be considered “Indian Country,” the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department decided to levy taxes on Pueblo members who did business at the cultural center.  The legislation would ensure that such business would be tax exempt by removing the provision which excludes the center from being considered Indian Country.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 4445 would have an “insignificant” impact on discretionary funding because considering the center as “Indian Country” could potentially increase the work loads for certain federal law enforcement agencies required to oversee Indian Country. 

In addition, CBO states that the legislation “would impose an intergovernmental mandate as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by prohibiting gaming on some land held in trust for the Pueblos in New Mexico.”  However, because there are no gaming activities currently being conducted on the property, and there are no plans for future gaming operations, CBO estimates that any cost of the mandate would be well below the UMRA threshold.