House committee approves Lytton Band bill with casino limitation

A view of the Lytton Rancheria's land-into-trust site in Sonoma County, California. Photo from Lytton Residential Development Environmental Assessment

The House Natural Resources Committee approved H.R.2538, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act, at a markup session on Tuesday.

The bill places 511 acres in trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians in California. The land, located in Sonoma County, cannot be used for gaming under Section 5 of the measure.

An amendment offered by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) also addresses future acquisitions. The tribe won't be able to pursue a casino on any lands placed in trust in the county north of State Route 12.

Additionally, the tribe has to wait until March 15, 2037, to pursue gaming on lands south of the highway. The date was chosen because that's when an agreement with the county expires.

Indianz.Com SoundCloud: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California) discusses H.R. 2538, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act of 2015, at a markup before the House Natural Resources Committee

The tribe already operates the San Pablo Lytton Casino in San Pablo, south of the highway. That facility is located in Contra Costa County so any potential acquisitions there would not be affected by the bill.

Gaming prohibitions are almost always included in land-into-trust bills in Congress. But H.R.2538 appears to be the first that imposes geographic and temporal restrictions on future acquisitions for a tribe that already has federal recognition.

"We have in this amendment and in the bill assurances for those who are concerned about new casinos in Sonoma County," Huffman said. If the Bureau of Indian Affairs were to approve the land-into-trust application for the 511 acres or future applications, gaming could be on the table.

After Huffman's amendment was adopted, the bill was approved by unanimous consent. It can now be considered on the House floor.

Committee Notices:
Full Committee Markup on 18 Bills (February 2, 2016)
Full Committee Markup on 18 Bills (February 3, 2016)

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Lytton Band accepts casino limitations in land-into-trust measure (2/2)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on Indian bills (1/29)
Lytton Band vows not to pursue casino on newly acquired lands (10/13)
Pro and Con: Lytton Band land-into-trust and development plan (10/02)
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