Speaker pro tem invites Diné to spring session

By Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates
22nd Navajo Nation Council

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Yá'át'ééh, Diné citizens, as many of you may know I am currently serving as speaker pro tem for the 22nd Navajo Nation Council. As speaker pro tem, in accordance with Title II of the Navajo Nation Code, I am responsible for assuming the duties and responsibilities of the speaker.

I assure each of you that the legislative branch continues to function effectively and that our nation's leaders continue to address critical issues and legislations, many of which will be the focus of next week's spring Council session, which begins on Monday, April 21, at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber in Window Rock.

I will briefly highlight a few of the legislations that are expected to come before Council at next week's spring session. Please keep in mind that each of the following legislations is subject to change and may not appear on the approved agenda for next week's session.

One major issue that has received a great deal of attention at the local and national level is the "Healthy Diné Nation Act," which was previously considered and approved by the Council, but was later vetoed by President Ben Shelly.

In March, Jonathan Hale introduced Legislation No. 0083-14, which seeks an override of Shelly's veto.

If the override is approved, the "Healthy Diné Nation Act" would impose a 2 percent sales tax on "junk food" items sold within the Navajo Nation in an effort to promote healthy living.

Additionally, Hale has also sponsored a separate bill, which attempts an override of Shelly's veto of a resolution passed by Council which would eliminate the 5 percent sales tax on fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Both items will be on the spring session agenda and both require two-thirds approval, or 16 supporting votes, from Council.

Speaker Johnny Naize has sponsored Legislation No. 0062-14, which seeks to appoint Levon B. Henry to serve as the chief legal counsel for the Office of Legislative Counsel under the legislative branch. If confirmed by Council next week, Henry would primarily be responsible for providing legal guidance and advice for the Council, standing committees, and legislative branch programs.

Also expected to be on the agenda are three separate legislations which seek a total of approximately $470,000 from the nation's Unreserved, Undesignated Fund balance to benefit ongoing operations at several women's and children's shelters, which offer services for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, in the communities of Kayenta, Chinle, and Shiprock.

Pending consideration by the Naabik'iyát’' Committee on Thursday, Legislation No. 0081-14, sponsored by Edmund Yazzie, may also be considered by Council next week. The legislation seeks to amend the Veteran's Trust Fund to allow the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs to construct homes outside the boundaries of the Navajo Nation and also to allow for the purchase of prefabricated or mobile home units.

Funding for the construction of homes was approved by Council last September, in which a 2-percent set-aside from the trust fund was allocated for the construction of 15 homes in each of the nation's five agencies annually, through Fiscal Year 2017.

The construction of 25 homes for our veterans is currently in progress across our nation at this time. The intent of this bill is to provide additional options for veterans as to the type of homes and the location of the homes.

There will be other very important legislations on the agenda, which will be made available for the public on the Council's website( http://navajonationcouncil.org).
The 22nd Navajo Nation Council invites all Diné people to attend next week's spring Council session and we also invite you to watch live proceedings via the Council's designated Ustream channel at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/navajo-nation-council.

Alternatively, viewers may log onto the USTREAM home page and search for Navajo Nation Council in the search box.

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