Opinion: Tribal political clout rises in California
"Tribal clout was demonstrated anew on Tuesday when the Assembly Public Safety Committee, after a hearing that lasted but a few minutes, unanimously approved a bill that would empower tribes to banish individuals from their reservations and have local law enforcement officials enforce the ban.

Ostensibly, the legislation, Senate Bill 331 by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, has to do with trespassing, but trespassing on posted land is already against the law. SB 331, as a committee staff analysis implies, is really aimed at one of the darker aspects of tribal casino operations – the tendency of dominant tribal political factions to "disenroll" members who fall out of favor and thus make them ineligible for shares of multibillion-dollar casino revenues.

The state has no power to enforce democracy and non-discrimination in tribes since they claim the status of "sovereign nations." But with SB 331, local police would be used to enforce banishment by creating a new infraction, punishable by a fine, that could be applied to any individual specifically named by a tribe.

It's bad policy. The bill sailed through the Senate as a "consent" item, and the Legislature's eagerness to make it law is shameful, even as it testifies to the casino tribes' clout."

Get the Story:
Dan Walters: Tribes rise as guard union fades (The Sacramento Bee 3/12)

Related Story:
Barona trespass measure moving again (The San Diego Union-Tribune 3/11)