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Posted: July 28, 2020

Office of the Speaker

July 27, 2020

Navajo Nation Council extends temporary rules for local Chapter government meetings and procurement amid COVID-19 pandemic

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Rules and procedures that allow local Navajo Nation chapter government officials to hold remote chapter meetings and to conduct official business during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were extended by the 24th Navajo Nation Council during the 2020 Summer Session.

The provisions previously approved by the Council in Resolution No. CAP-19-20 were extended until the ongoing public health order against large public gatherings changes to allow a regular quorum of 25 people or more.
CAP-19-20 established numerous provisions to ensure local governments continued to meet the needs of their community members through the pandemic. These provisions include:

  1. Enabling telephonic or video conferencing methods in place of in-person meetings;
  2. Ratification of previously approved business items addressed during telecommunications-based chapter meeting;
  3. 48-hour public meeting notice with appropriate information to allow members of the public to call-in to chapter meetings;
  4. Budget matters and emergency matters may be addressed in these chapter meetings and additional topics may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Division Director of the Division of Community Development in consultation with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice;
  5. Appointment and confirmation of any chapter member as pro tem vice-president and pro tem secretary/treasurer;
  6. Allowances for main motions and seconding motions on chapter meeting agenda items;
  7. Meeting recording and record-taking by the secretary/treasurer;
  8. Compensation for chapter officials attending via telecommunications methods;
  9. Quorum requirements and allowances for Alternative Forms of Government (AFOG);
  10. Updates to the public health order lowering gathering limits to no more than 5 people.

Additionally, CAP-19-20 authorizes the Division of Community Development to guide all 110 chapters utilizing the 2010 Model Five Management System (FMS), as announced by the Navajo Nation Attorney General through AG Opinion 01-10.

Non-Local Governance Act (non-LGA) certified Navajo Nation chapter presidents are also temporarily authorized through CAP-19-20 to sign temporary leases of chapter property to accommodate health personnel and to sign contracts for goods and services in an amount at or below $50,000.

For non-LGA certified chapters, CAP-19-20 sets in place requirements that chapter officials must follow in order to co-sign all checks and to allow for payments for emergency goods and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This provision addresses the ongoing designation of Division of Community Development chapter administration staff as non-essential by the Executive Branch, effectively eliminating the chapter’s ability to carry out many executive functions.

CAP-19-20 also provides for access to Navajo Nation Council Resolution No. CMA-11-20, which replenished the chapter emergency account. However, all chapters are mandated to coordinate all emergency relief efforts through the Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center (HCOC).

With an approved Navajo Nation Chapter Emergency Plan, chapters may utilize public employment program (PEP) funds under CAP-19-20 to compensate volunteers and to provide for special duty pay, so long as chapters do not exceed their PEP budgets.

Chapters that are soliciting and accepting donations on behalf of the community and Navajo Nation are required to follow Navajo Nation Council Resolution No. CMA-08-20 in accepting gifts. Although the Navajo Nation Council delegated many authorities and functions to local Navajo Nation chapter governments, it did not delegate the authority to accept gifts on behalf of the Navajo Nation.

Finally, CAP-19-20 allows chapter officials to attend Agency Council meetings through teleconference.
The 24th Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved CAP-19-20 on Apr. 10 with a vote of 23 in favor and 0 opposed. The resolution was vetoed by President Jonathan Nez on Apr. 23 and the Council subsequently approved an override on May 15 with a vote of 20 in favor and 3 opposed.

Legislation No. 0157-20 to extend the expiration of CAP-19-20 was sponsored by Council Delegate Elmer P. Begay (Dilcon, Indian Wells, Teesto, Whitecone, Greasewood Springs) and co-sponsored by Council Delegate Raymond Smith, Jr. (Klagetoh, Wide Ruins, Houck, Lupton, Nahata Dziil). The 24th Navajo Nation Council approved Legislation No. 0157-20 unanimously on Jul. 22 with a vote of 23 in favor and 0 opposed.

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