Chairman Jim Billie and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed the agreement today. Photo from Department of the Interior / Facebook
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Seminole Tribe is latest with approved HEARTH Act regulations

The Seminole Tribe of Florida took more control of its own affairs in a signing ceremony with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today.

The tribe's regulations under the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act were approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Chairman Jim Billie signed the agreement with Jewell, who is visiting the state this week.

“This is an important day for the Seminole Tribe, which will be able to process residential and business leases without the need for BIA approval,” Billie said in a press release. “This authority will allow the tribe to better serve its members and create new opportunities for economic development on the tribe’s reservations."

Congress enacted H.R.205, or the HEARTH Act, in 2012. The law gives tribes greater control over the development of their lands by eliminating BIA approval for every single lease.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida will now decide for itself how it wants to do business on its lands – from making it easier for families to buy and build houses to opening businesses in the communities where they have lived for generations,” Jewell said in the press release. “Today’s agreement will encourage economic development and help create jobs while strengthening tribal sovereignty and self-determination by putting these decisions back in the hands of the tribe.”

Fourteen other tribes have approved HEARTH Act regulations, according to the BIA.

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U.S., Seminole Tribe approve land leasing regulations (Local 10 News 1/8)

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