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Politics
Sen. Johnson concerned about IGRA amendments


Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), a leading member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he supports some amendments to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act but expressed concerns about the bill's effect on tribes.

The committee passed a substitute to S.2078 at a business meeting on Wednesday. Johnson said tribes weren't given enough time to review the version that Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the committee chairman, brought up for discussion.

"With all due respect to Senator McCain's efforts, the bill was substantially revised twice in the last two days before the hearing and accordingly tribes did not have an adequate opportunity to consult on the final provisions before they were voted on in the committee," Johnson said yesterday.

Johnson said was disappointed that an amendment offered by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to "fix" the Seminole U.S> Supreme Court decision was defeated. He said the proposal -- rejected by a 6-6 vote, with McCain voting in opposition -- "would have done a great deal to address the tribal concerns and help restore the original intent of IGRA by giving tribes an option when states are unwilling to negotiate gaming compacts."

Johnson, who voted for the amendment, said he is responsive to tribal criticism of the measure. Tribes in South Dakota and the Great Plains have voiced "strong opposition" to provisions that would impose more oversight and regulation on tribal casinos and restrict the ability to acquire new lands. Off-reservation gaming has generally not been an issue in South Dakota but at least one tribe has faced stiff opposition from the state to acquire ancestral lands.

Johnson, who also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, scheduled a conference call with Native media outlets on Thursday but had to postpone due to pending business on Capitol Hill. His office provided his response to the IGRA amendments after a query by Indianz.Com.

McCain IGRA Bill:
Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Amendments of 2005 (S.2078)

Relevant Links:
Sen. Tim Johnson - ttp://johnson.senate.gov
National Indian Gaming Commission - http://www.nigc.gov
National Indian Gaming Association - http://www.indiangaming.org

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