indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Tobacco tax bill still poses challenges for Indian Country
Tuesday, December 16, 2003

A bill that gives states greater powers to collect taxes on the sale of cigarettes cleared the U.S. Senate last week with little debate.

Before winning unanimous consent from the chamber, the Protect All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act was stripped of its most damaging provision. Language in the original bill would have abrogated tribal sovereign immunity by allowing states to bring tax enforcement actions against tobacco businesses on Indian land.

Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, objected to the provision. They worked with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and other organizations to remove what tribal leaders said was a reversal of 200 years of Supreme Court precedent.

But tribal leaders and their advocates aren't entirely satisfied with the final product. They warn S.1177 could still lead to state intrusion on tribal rights.

Furthermore, the version that will be considered in the House next year includes language that waives tribal immunity. H.R.2824 authorizes states to sue tribes and individual Indians in federal court if they don't collect the state tax.

"It's merely a ploy to put Indian Country out of business," Joe Brooks, chief of the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma, said at the annual NCAI convention last month. "It's a direct stab on Indian Country."

PACT supporters include the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, which believes imposing taxes discourages youth from smoking. American Indian and Alaska Native teens have the highest rate of tobacco use among all ethnic and racial groups.

But the biggest backers are state governments that claim they will lose up to $1.5 billion in tax revenues by the year 2005 through the sale of tobacco via the Internet and mail order businesses. The National Association of Attorneys General worked with lawmakers on the latest version of S.1177.

The sponsors of PACT include Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), a member of the committee. Last week, Kohl said the bill "will achieve the goals we set out to attain -- to put an end to both cigarette trafficking and tobacco tax avoidance -- while leaving the important principles of Indian tribal sovereignty unaffected. "

"These moderate, but important, changes will further enable federal, state, local, and tribal officials to crack down on tobacco smugglers and ensure that Internet tobacco sellers pay applicable taxes," he said on Tuesday, when S.1177 was approved.

Tribal advocates are concerned the bill could be interpreted to apply not only to Internet businesses, which some tribes and tribal members operate, but to smokeshops on Indian land. They also believe a provision that allows states and local governments to create lists of "compliant" and "non-compliant" businesses intrudes on tribal sovereignty.

Additionally, tribes point out that they have already entered into compacts with some states regarding tobacco taxation. Tribes, like states, depend on tobacco revenues to keep their government running.

In pushing for the passage of PACT, Leahy said it would "crack down on the growing problem of cigarette smuggling, both interstate and international, as well as to address the connection between cigarette smuggling activities and terrorist funding." "Criminals are getting away with smuggling and not paying tobacco taxes because of weak punishments, products that are often poorly labeled, the lack of tax stamps and the inability of the current distribution system to track sales from state to state," he said on the Senate floor.

H.R.2824, the Internet Tobacco Sales Enforcement Act, will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee once the House reconvenes in January 2004. It was approved October 2 but a subcommittee of that panel. The definition of "person" is expanded to include tribal governments and Indian retailers.

Get the Bills:
PACT Act (S.1177) | Internet Tobacco Sales Enforcement Act (H.R.2824)

Relevant Links:
National Congress of American Indians - http://www.ncai.org
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids - http://www.tobaccofreekids.org

Related Stories:
Tribes left out of Internet and cigarette tax bills (11/19)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native American Council meets at Democratic National Convention (7/25)
Police officer cleared over fatal shooting of Navajo Nation woman (7/25)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Donald Trump and his campaign of hatred (7/25)
Native Sun News: Tribal advocate focuses on Great Plains efforts (7/25)
Lakota Country Times: Descendants of Pine Ridge legend gather (7/25)
Johnny Rustywire: Navajo mother works hard at motel for family (7/25)
Alex Jacobs: Nation finally admits problem with policing and race (7/25)
Dwaine Perry: Ramapough Lunaape Nation marching for justice (7/25)
Charges filed for assault on disabled member of Nisqually Tribe (7/25)
Man arrested for American Indian Movement flag settles lawsuit (7/25)
Interior Department consults tribes about new trust reform law (7/22)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (7/22)
Yurok Tribe shares sad news about salmon festival -- no salmon (7/22)
Mark Charles: An entire nation's big problem with Donald Trump (7/22)
Mark Trahant: Donald Trump promises a world with no treaties (7/22)
Native Sun News: Appeal delays release of Keepseagle checks (7/22)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts walk for cancer (7/22)
James Giago Davies: Police officers get away with 'kill option' (7/22)
Andre Cramblit: Police officer shootings seem far too common (7/22)
Donald Trump closes convention that left out Indian Country (7/22)
New law in Oklahoma goes against Indian Arts and Crafts Act (7/22)
NMAI seeks input from tribes about veterans memorial in DC (7/22)
Blackfeet Nation swears in leaders and looks to a new future (7/22)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe kicks off popular powwow after absence (7/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe declares emergency over opioids (7/22)
Review: Hard look at drugs in Indian Country in 'Seventh Fire' (7/22)
State takes blame for sharing Tohono O'odham Nation minutes (7/22)
Pokagon Band debuts expansion of gaming facility in Michigan (7/22)
Karuk Tribe ready for groundbreaking on long-awaited casino (7/22)
California remains a battleground for Indian Child Welfare Act (7/21)
Yurok Tribe launches operation to rid reservation of marijuana (7/21)
Laguna Pueblo loses case linked to military contract kickbacks (7/21)
Cherokee player Koda Glover wins praise in major league debut (7/21)
Education Department hosts Native youth for roundtable in DC (7/21)
Navajo Nation lawmakers approve bill for travel plaza at casino (7/21)
Mark Trahant: Trump's Republican convention is one big failure (7/21)
Native Sun News: Five Rosebud tribal members killed in crash (7/21)
Lakota Country Times: Fire deals setback to Rosebud program (7/21)
Brandon Ecoffey: Carrying the voices of our people to masses (7/21)
Delphine Red Shirt: Our children need to be kept close to home (7/21)
Peter d'Errico: Celebrating the dark side of White 'civilization' (7/21)
Oglala Sioux Tribe confirms shooting death of 13-year-old girl (7/21)
Tribes in Connecticut sponsor cruise for Republican delegates (7/21)
Tribal lobbyist not buying Donald Trump's message of change (7/21)
Mechoopda Tribe aims to work with county on delayed casino (7/21)
Seminole Tribe helps with probe into robbery of casino patron (7/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.