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Tribal Sovereignty Bill Delayed As Gov. Mills Expresses 'Serious Concerns' With Its Current Form

Maine lawmakers have delayed until their next session a bill that would give the state’s Native American tribes rights that are similar to those held by many other recognized tribes in the U.S.

LD 1626 is one of several bills affecting Maine’s tribes that are being held over until the next legislative session because they need “additional work,” according to Sen. Ann Carney, co-chair of the Judiciary Committee which is considering that legislation.

But the bill still hasn’t won the support of Gov. Janet Mills. Her legal counsel, Jerry Reid, said on Tuesday that she has “serious concerns” with its current form and will share those concerns during the next session if they're still relevant.

“In the meantime, we intend to continue to work to try to engage with the Legislature and individual legislators and also with tribal representatives in an effort to find common ground on the issues that are presented in this bill,” Reid said.

The proposed legislation is meant to implement recommendations from a task forcethat examined the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980. That landmark law was passed to resolve land claims by Maine’s tribes, but it gave the state significant authority over tribal affairs and spurred decades of litigation.

The bill has won the support of Democratic legislative leaders, some tribal members and various environmental and racial justice groups.