Editorial: Improving tribal-state relations in Maine
"After years of distrust and sometimes outright hostility, the state’s Indian tribes and state officials have made important progress in improving relations. Many of those gains can be solidified through passage of LD 2221, a bill that codifies the recommendations of the Tribal-State Work Group.

Most of the group’s eight recommendations are easy to support — requiring consultation with the tribes prior to changes in state laws, regulations and policies that effect the tribes, for example. One to exempt the tribes from the state’s Freedom of Access Act, however, needs more consideration.

In recommending that the tribes be exempt from the act, the group noted that the tribes are not municipalities, counties or parts of state government. While this is true, it is beside the point. They are government entities and as such should remain subject to the access act, as are every other level of government in the state. The point of the act is to ensure that government functions remain transparent to the public. The same should be true of tribal government.

Especially at a time when the state is working to catalog, and hopefully minimize, the current exemptions under the act, a large additional one should not be added. Due to concerns that there were too many exemptions, legislators recently required that any new exemptions must be approved by the Judiciary Committee. The LD 2221 bill is already before that committee, but this provision should get additional scrutiny and lawmakers should proceed carefully as they consider it."

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Editorial: Tribal-State Relations (The Bangor Daily News 3/5)