indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
House leader vows fight against tobacco tax bill
Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The Congressional Native American Caucus will work to kill tobacco tax legislation that opens up tribes to state jurisdiction, a key House lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), the Democratic co-chair of the caucus, said there were efforts underway to defeat H.R.2824, the Internet Tobacco Sales Enforcement Act. At the impact week meeting of the the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), he called the bill an intrusion on tribal sovereignty.

"It's contrary not only to the Constitution, it's contrary to specific federal law," Kildee told tribal leaders who gathered in the Washington, D.C., area.

Agreeing was Mark Van Norman, the executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), the largest inter-tribal gaming organization. He said the bill has "far-reaching effects" because it authorizes states to enforce their laws in Indian Country.

But the harshest provision, he said, would allow states to bring lawsuits, in federal court, against "persons" who try to avoid state tobacco taxes. The bill defines "persons" to include tribal governments and Indian retailers, and it toughens civil fines and criminal penalties for alleged violators.

"So that means the state attorney general, they don't go to the federal government and say let's sit down on a government-to-government basis," he said, "they take you into federal court."

The House Judiciary Committee passed H.R.2824 by a voice vote last week. In response to tribal complaints, lawmakers included a "savings clause" that attempts to protect tribes that have tobacco tax agreements with states. But Van Norman said the language doesn't go far enough to protect tribal sovereignty.

Kildee said Indian Country advocates are working to kill the offensive language. He also said Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) -- whom he called "a great defender of sovereignty" -- has asked for a referral to the House Resources Committee.

Pombo chairs the Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian issues. So far, all of the work on the bill has been done by the Judiciary Committee.

"The House Judiciary Committee should know the Constitution, should know what federal laws are on the books -- those acts date back to 1790 -- they should know that," Kildee said.

From the tribal end, Van Norman said lobbyists want to bring the House Commerce Committee into negotiations because the bill redefines inter-state commerce to include Indian lands.

The Senate version of the bill, known as the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, was passed in December. Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, were able to remove the language that would have abrogated tribal sovereign immunity.

But provisions related to state enforcement remain. Tribal advocates are worried these could be interpreted to apply not only to Indian-owned Internet businesses but to brick-and-mortar shops as well.

Supporters of the bill include anti-smoking groups, tobacco manufacturers, law enforcement and convenience store owners. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids believes it will prevent youth from smoking. American Indian and Alaska Native teens have the highest rate of tobacco use among all ethnic and racial groups.

This coalition makes it harder for tribes to press their views, Van Norman said. "It's a tougher situation now," he said. "No one wants to see kids smoking. We don't want to see people doing wrongful things against the American government."

"But we do want to preserve tribal sovereignty. We do need to preserve tribal sovereign immunity," he said.

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

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

Related Stories:
Tobacco tax bill has broad group of supporters (2/2)
Tobacco tax bill still poses challenges for Indian Country (12/16)
Tribes left out of Internet and cigarette tax bills (11/19)

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

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
SCIA to hold listening session at NCAI on Indian education bill (10/22)
FNDI urges passage for Indian Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act (10/22)
Chumash Tribe praises BIA movement on land-into-trust bid (10/22)
Steven Newcomb: The role of Latin in empire and colonization (10/22)
Christopher Chavis: Navajo court got it wrong in fluency case (10/22)
Navajo Nation presidential hopeful to be removed from ballot (10/22)
Aging BIA school on Navajo Nation awaits replacement funds (10/22)
Review: NMAI treaties exhibit underscores misunderstandings (10/22)
Alaska Native elders and youth share issues at annual meeting (10/22)
Shinnecock Nation allows felons to hold office in certain cases (10/22)
2nd Circuit hears appeal from former chairman of Pequot Tribe (10/22)
Rep. Don Young criticized for comments to high school students (10/22)
Candidates differ on Spokane Tribe's off-reservation casino bid (10/22)
Poarch Creeks to add hotel to casino with $65M expansion plan (10/22)
Salt River Tribe concerned about Tohono O'odham Nation casino (10/22)
North Fork Rancheria blames rival tribes for holding up compact (10/22)
Ballot proposal authorizes more Class III games in South Dakota (10/22)
Blog: Predictions for gaming with Hillary Clinton in White House (10/22)
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives ready for conference and election (10/21)
BIA announces consultations for secretarial election regulation (10/21)
Chelsey Luger & Gyasi Ross: From slow suicide to slow healing (10/21)
Bill John Baker: Addressing breast cancer in our communities (10/21)
ICT interview with Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of BIA (10/21)
Navajo Nation court still mulling decision in presidential case (10/21)
Column: Billy Mills still inspires 50 years after Olympic victory (10/21)
Editorial: Winnebago Tribe's business makes a big contribution (10/21)
Lincoln Indian Center adopts permanent alcohol ban after party (10/21)
Suquamish Tribe shares fish from hatchery at annual giveaway (10/21)
Editorial: Bad move by Northern Arapaho Tribe on joint council (10/21)
Wisconsin court to hear appeal over Oneida Nation waste plant (10/21)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe reaches out to family that lost home to fire (10/21)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino affects reservation water (10/21)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe considers casino on ancestral Ohio site (10/21)
Town meeting for Lac Vieux Desert Band off-reservation casino (10/21)
North Fork Rancheria won't give up off-reservation casino plan (10/21)
Tohono O'odham Nation was looking for off-reservation casino (10/21)
Poarch Creeks won't confirm or deny talks for gaming compact (10/21)
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.