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Court to hear dispute over Yakama Nation utility fee

The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the Yakama Nation's utility fee.

The tribe imposes a 3 percent fee on utility companies that do business on the reservation. But a group of non-Indians called the Standup! Committee says the tribe lacks the authority to do so.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has allowed the fee to go into effect. Two utilities -- Cascade Natural Gas and PacifiCorp -- challenged it, saying it was an illegal tax.

Fees are common practice within the utility industry and are usually passed onto customers.

The case is Willman v. Utilities & Transp. Commission, No. 75821-2. The question presented is "Whether the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission properly allowed utilities to pass through to all customers living within the boundaries of the Yakima Indian Reservation a tax imposed on the utilities by the Yakama Indian Nation."

Get the Story:
Supreme Court Will Hear Tribe Tax Case (AP 4/6)

Related Stories:
Wash. targets companies for passing on tribal fee (05/23)