S. 1603, Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act

S. 1603

Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act

Sponsor
Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Date
September 15, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, September 15, 2014, the House will consider S. 1603, the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act, under suspension of the rules.  S. 1603 was introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and was passed in the Senate on June 19, 2014 by unanimous consent.  The bill was marked up in the House Natural Resources Committee on July 30, 2014 and was ordered reported by voice vote.

Bill Summary

S. 1603 ratifies and confirms actions taken by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to take into trust a tract of land for the benefit of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians in Michigan. S. 1603 reaffirms the land as trust land and precludes federal lawsuits relating to the land, including lawsuits that are currently pending.

Background

“The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) is a federally recognized tribe residing in rural Michigan.”[1]  The Tribe was recognized by the federal government in 1998, and two years later, the Tribe requested that a tract of land be placed into trust for the its benefit, pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act.[2]  “The trust acquisition by the Secretary was quickly challenged by an anti-gaming organization and a neighboring landowner.  These challenges resulted in numerous court decisions, culminating in the United States Supreme Court’s decision . . . [that] ultimately provided the neighboring landowner legal standing to challenge the Secretary’s trust acquisition for the Tribe.  That challenge is currently pending before a federal district court, and places in jeopardy the Tribe’s only tract of land held in trust and the [casino regulated pursuant to the Indian Gaming Act of 1988] that the Tribe is currently operating on the land.”[3]  S. 1603 confirms the Secretary’s acquisition of the land in trust for the benefit of the Tribe and “provide[s] certainty to the legal status of the land.”[4]

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[1] Senate Committee Report 113-194 at 1.
[2] Id.
[3] Id. at 1-2.
[4] Id. at 2.

Cost

According to CBO estimates, implementing S. 1603 would not significantly impact the federal budget.   The bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.