Bill HB1530/SB0704 for Proposed TnCIA
and Reasons for Opposition


On April 15, 2003, Bill HB1530/SB0704 was before the Tennessee House of Representatives. It was sent to a subcomittee of the House Ways and Means for further review. On April 22, 2003 (approximately), the subcommittee attached an amendment basically saying:


Amendment:
"by adding the following new section immediately preceding the last section and by renumbering the subsequent section accordingly:
SECTION _____.
(a) Members of the commission are to serve without compensation and shall not be reimbursed for travel expenses.
(b) The commission may appoint an executive director, however, the executive director will not be considered a state employee and any compensation shall be from non state resources.
(c) The commission is authorized to raise and expend funds for the purpose of carrying out the mission of the commission, however, the commission is to operate without dependence on state appropriations.

The Bill will face further scrutiny but the general public and far too many Indian people and communities in Tennessee have not yet heard of the Bill for another proposed Commission of Indian Affairs.
The Advisory Council for the Proposed Commission of Indian Affairs' web site can be found here: http://www.tncia.org/
The Tennessee Native American Indian Convention's web site can be found here: http://www.tnnac.org/index.html
Text of the Bill in its entirety can be found here: http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/bills/currentga/Bill/SB0704.pdf

For Federally Recognized and enrolled Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others, there are Federal, State, local and other NPO public assistance programs and services already established to provide help as needed.

The wording of this Bill for another Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs contains language that is dangerous, as it potentially provides a legal means for “double dipping” from federal, state, local, and other resources. Section 4; number (9) provides for a conflict of interest as possible Commissioners have a vested interest in state recognition of persons, groups and organizations. Through this vested interest, all sections of this Bill are a conflict of interest to the actual issues the Commission would attempt to address.

Potential Commissioners currently are, have been, or conceivably could be Officers and/or members in the many non-profit Indian groups and organizations that would directly profit from the passage of this Bill. These groups and organizations are already currently recognized as being Indian related and many apply for federal monies, grants, and other sources to fulfill their goals and purposes.

If Commissioners of the proposed Tennessee Indian Commission are to represent the State, all citizens of the State should duly elect them through a general election to provide the Commission with the legal standing to speak and make decisions on behalf of the State of Tennessee.

If the potential Commissioners are enrolled with Federally recognized Nations and Tribes, State recognition would be redundant. If the Commissioners are not currently enrolled, they would have a vested interest in becoming state recognized and as such, present a potential conflict of interest in this legislation becoming law.

There is the potential for the proposed Commission/Commissioners to "Black Ball" those persons and groups that don't agree with the actions of the proposed Commission and/or its Commissioners.

If a Commission is needed, perhaps its members should be comprised of a subcommittee of 5 to 7 employees of the General Assembly of Tennessee, so that all issues mentioned in this Bill could be addressed.

A better idea would be the creation of a "Coordinating Council", comprised of representatives of all the many Indian groups and organizations across the State. Their main purpose would be to better facilitate networking between the already established Indian groups and organizations; applying for grants that could benefit all Indians in Tennessee. This Council would ensure a more equal distribution of any federal grant monies through having equal representation by all Indian groups and organizations.

Without such a measure of "Check and Balance", proposed Commissioners could and, as recent experience has shown, would publicly attack those persons, groups, and organizations that disagree with them. The proposed Commission could conceivably retaliate against those persons, groups, and organizations by refusing to cooperate with them; by using the Commissions' association with the State as a weapon of endorsement (we are attached to the State and bestow 'recognition' or deny recognition as we see fit).

Without a check/balance system already in place before approving the Bill and the proposed Commission, the State of Tennessee opens itself to many potential legal problems and possible lawsuits.

See comments in RED below for exact issues and problems with this Bill.

CC: Governor Phil Breseden
Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate John Wilder
Bill Sponsors Thelma Harper and Mike Kernell
All Members of Tennessee's Senate and House Representatives
TN News Sources/Media
Many other interested parties

______________________________________________________________________
Proposed Bill

SB0704



Filed for intro on 02/13/2003
SENATE BILL 704
By Harper

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, relative to the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1.
Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 4, Chapter 34, is amended by adding sections 2 through 9 of the act as a new part thereto.

SECTION 2.
(a) There is hereby created and established the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs.

(b) The commission shall be attached to the department of environment and conservation for administrative purposes only.

SECTION 3.
The purposes of the commission are to:

(1) Deal fairly and effectively with Indian affairs;
Already in place are Federal, State, Local resources and laws to handle any such issues that would effect Indian affairs. The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and present a potential conflict of interest with already established and available resources. For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others (including those claiming Indian heritage), there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed.

Examples would be:

There are eight Legal Aid or Legal Services organizations in Tennessee. These are not-for-profit law offices that give certain types of free legal help to people who cannot afford to pay a lawyer.
http://www.tba.org/LawBytes/T1_1002.html
Memphis Area Legal Services
West Tennessee Legal Services
Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands
Southeast Tennessee Legal Services
Legal Aid of East Tennessee
Legal Assistance for the Elderly
Aging Services for Upper Cumberlands
Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services
Tennessee Justice Center

Discrimination
http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

“Business Support Services” resource to aid in establishing and developing of minority businesses
http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/business/support.html

Housing
http://www.hud.gov/local/tn/homeless/shelters.cfm

Jobs
http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/

Food
http://www.state.tn.us/humanserv/programs.htm

Clothing
http://www.hud.gov/local/tn/homeless/foodclothing.cfm

Education Needs:
Tennessee Tennessee Department of Education Technical Assistance
http://www.state.tn.us/education/eetacont.htm
Special Education Needs
http://www.state.tn.us/education/speced/index.htm
Federal (BIA), State, and Local Schools serving Native American / Alaska Native Students
http://www.ael.org/link/v22n1/link221.pdf

In addition to some of the public social services listed above, there are the many Indian related groups and organizations already in, place and established across Tennessee:

Chattanooga InterTribal Association
http://www.chattanooga.net/cita/

Chattanooga Indigenous Resource Center & Library
http://www.envirocity.org/circl/

East Tennessee Indian League, Inc. of Knoxville
http://www.angelfire.com/tn3/etil/welcome.html

Wisdom Keepers, Inc.
http://www.wisdomkeepers.org/

Native Nashville
http://www.nativenashville.com/

Tennessee Native Veterans Society
http://home.earthlink.net/~yonausdi/index.html

Tennessee Chapter, Trail Of Tears Association
http://www.tntota.net

Alliance for Native American Indian Rights
1305 Presidential Trace
Hermitage, TN 37076
(615) 885-9402

American Indian Center
Employment & Training Program
1161 Murfreesboro Pike, Suite 508
Nashville, TN 37217-2245
(615) 360-8003

MTSU Native American Heritage Society
Box 666
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Native American Indian Association of Tennessee
211 Union St.
Suite 932, Stahlman Building
Nashville TN 37201-1505
(615) 726-0806

Chucalissa Museum
1987 Indian Village Drive
Memphis, TN 38109
901-785-3160
http://cas.memphis.edu/chucalissa/index.html

Memphis NAIA
P.O. Box11473
Memphis,TN 38111-0473
John E. Smith, President
Phone: 901-743-0095


(2) Research and find local, state and federal resources of funding and other assistance for the implementation or continuation of meaningful programs for Indian citizens of the state;
For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others, there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed (see examples listed above). The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and present a potential conflict of interest with already established and available resources.

(3) Provide aid and protection for Indians as needs are demonstrated;
Again, federal, state, local, and charity organizations are already in place to assist those in need: public law resources, housing, social services (see above list). The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and would expose the potential for abuse of agencies, funds, and resources already established , possibly resulting in double dipping.

(4) Prevent undue hardships;
Emergency assistance is already available through federal, state, local services, non-profit groups: IE; emergency housing, food, clothing, women’s abuse centers, children’s services, churches, etc. Proposed Commission would present a potential conflict of interest in already established resources , possibly resulting in double dipping.

(5) Assist Indian communities in social and economic development;
The American Indian Center, recipient of federal grant monies, already provides assistance to promote economic development. Tennessee already has a “Business Support Services” resource to aid in establishing and developing of minority businesses. (http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/business/support.html) The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and would present a potential conflict of interest for already established services.

(6) Promote recognition of, and the right of Indians to pursue cultural and religious traditions considered by them to be sacred and meaningful to Native Americans; and
Regarding the “..recognition of the right of Indians to pursue religious traditions considered by them to be sacred and meaningful..”: It is unconstitutional to involve the State in the matters of religion as the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights; Amendment I ( http://memory.loc.gov/const/bor.html) and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and subsequent Amendments ( http://tis.eh.doe.gov/oepa/law_sum/AIRFA.HTM and http://www.erowid.org/freedom/religious/nafera.shtml) already provide relief for such issues for both federally recognized Indians and all others.

If the concern of the proposed Commission is to provide cultural centers and resources, the issue would be best served by non-profit organizations already in place, to prevent any possible conflict of interest. Some of the already established non-profit groups are:

Chattanooga InterTribal Association
http://www.chattanooga.net/cita/

Chattanooga Indigenous Resource Center & Library
http://www.envirocity.org/circl/

East Tennessee Indian League, Inc. of Knoxville
http://www.angelfire.com/tn3/etil/welcome.html

Wisdom Keepers, Inc.
http://www.wisdomkeepers.org/

Native Nashville
http://www.nativenashville.com/

Tennessee Native Veterans Society
http://home.earthlink.net/~yonausdi/index.html

Tennessee Chapter, Trail Of Tears Association
http://www.tntota.net


(7) Communicate with Tennessee's Indian communities and solicit communications from such Indian communities.
Communication with Tennessee’s many Indian communities and to solicit communications from such Indian communities would require impartiality, dedicated focus to reach all across the State, and involve many more forms of communication beyond just the use of the Internet.

SECTION 4.
It is the duty of the commission to:

(1) Study, consider, accumulate, compile, assemble and disseminate information on any aspect of Indian affairs;
Again, such issues are already addressed by the many established Indian groups and organizations across the State of Tennessee. The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and would present a potential conflict of interest for already established groups and organizations (see above for list).

(2) Investigate relief needs of Indians of Tennessee and to provide technical assistance in the preparation of plans for the alleviation of such needs;
The proposed Commission would have a vested interest and would present a potential conflict of interest for already established services. “Investigate relief needs of Indians” is addressed first through Tribal and federal programs and agencies already in place. For all others, there are federal, state, and local resources – both public services and non-profit – to assist in the relief of any potential needs (see numerous resources listed above). “Technical assistance” is vague and ambigous. The wording needs to be detailed and far more specific regarding what exactly "technical assistance" refers to.

(3) Confer with appropriate officials of local, state and federal governments and agencies of these governments, and with such congressional commissions that may be concerned with Indian affairs;
There is the potential for the proposed Commission/Commissioners to "Black Ball" those persons and groups that don't agree with the actions of the proposed Commission and/or its Commissioners.

If a Commission is needed, perhaps its members should be comprised of a subcommittee of 5 to 7 employees of the General Assembly of Tennessee, so that all issues mentioned in this Bill could be addressed.

A better idea would be the creation of a "Coordinating Council", comprised of representatives of all the many Indian groups and organizations across the State. Their main purpose would be to better facilitate networking between the already established Indian groups and organizations; applying for grants that could benefit all Indians in Tennessee. This Council would ensure a more equal distribution of any federal grant monies through having equal representation by all Indian groups and organizations.

Without such a measure of "Check and Balance", proposed Commissioners could and, as recent experience has shown, would publicly attack those persons, groups, and organizations that disagree with them. The proposed Commission could conceivably retaliate against those persons, groups, and organizations by refusing to cooperate with them; by using the Commissions' association with the State as a weapon (we are attached to the State and bestow 'recognition' or deny recognition as we see fit).

Without a check/balance system already in place before approving the Bill and the proposed Commission, the State of Tennessee opens itself to many potential legal problems and possible lawsuits.


(4) Encourage and implement coordination of applicable resources to meet the needs of Indians in Tennessee;
Proposed Commissioners of the Commission would have a vested interest. It would also potentially provide a conflict of interest of Federal, State, and local resources.

(5) Study the existing status of recognition of all Indian groups, tribes and communities presently existing in Tennessee;
Being that the Commissioners would not be voted to their positions by a general election of the populace in the state of Tennessee - and as such, would be no more than private citizens, this section has no bearing on the activities of the Commission and potentially would be a conflict of interest to the State of Tennessee.

(6) Establish appropriate procedures to provide for legal recognition by the state of presently unrecognized tribes, nations, groups, communities or individuals, and to provide for official state recognition by the commission of such;
Being that the Commissioners would not be voted to their positions by a general election of the populace in the state of Tennessee - and as such would be no more than private citizens, this section would not provide legal standing for the proposed Commission to speak on behalf of the State.

The proposed Commissioners who are unenrolled have a vested interest in the passing of this particular section. As such, it presents a conflict of interest. Those who are already enrolled in their Nation/Tribe have no need to be state recognized.

Both enrolled and non-enrolled proposed Commissioners would have a vested interest in recognizing persons, groups, and organizations, as many of the individuals already sit on the boards of the Indian-related groups and organizations. Again, a potential conflict of interest would be present.


(7) Cooperate with and secure the assistance of the local, state and federal governments or any agencies thereof in formulating any programs that the commission finds necessary or beneficial to Indians in Tennessee;
For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others (specifically those claiming Indian heritage), there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed. The Commissioners would have a vested interest and potentially cause a conflict of interest through misuse of funds, possible fraud, and "double dipping".

(8) Coordinate any programs regarding Indian affairs adopted or planned by the federal government to the end that the commission secure the full benefit of such programs;
For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others (claiming Indian heritage), there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed. This Commission would have a vested interest in this section and the potential for misuse of funds is available through possible conflict of interest. There is also the potential for "Black Balling" those persons and groups that don't agree with the actions of the proposed Commission and/or Commissioners.

A better idea would be the creation of a "Coordinating Council", comprised of representatives of all the many Indian groups and organizations across the State. This Council would ensure a more equal distribution of any monies through havig equal representation by all Indian groups and organizations.

Without such a measure of "Check and Balance", proposed Commissioners could and, as recent experience has shown, would publicly attack those persons, groups, and organizations that disagree with them. The proposed Commission could retaliate against those persons, groups, and organizations by refusing to cooperate with them; by using the Commissions' association with the State as a weapon (we are attached to the State and bestow 'recognition' or deny recognition as we see fit). Without a check/balance system in place before approving the Bill and the proposed Commission, the State of Tennessee opens itself to many potential legal problems and possible lawsuits.


(9) Review and comment on all proposed or pending state legislation and amendments to existing state legislation directly affecting Indians in Tennessee; and
For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others (claiming Indian heritage), there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed. Being that the Commissioners would not be voted to their positions by a general election of voters in the state of Tennessee, this section would potentially be a conflict of interest for the State of Tennessee. A subcommittee of the Senate would be better suited to address this.

(10) Conduct public hearings on matters relating to Indian affairs and to subpoena any information or documents deemed necessary by the commission.
The wording suggests unlimited legal authority without restraint, possibly infringing on federal, state, and local privacy laws; unlawful search and seizure, etc.

Proposed Commissioners, defined as private citizens per recent amendment that was added to the Bill, potentially could abuse this to influence votes for themselves or friends. A definite vested interest issue, potential conflict of interest to the State and legal system, likely resulting in numerous lawsuits.


SECTION 5.
(a) The Tennessee commission of Indian affairs shall consist of at least seven (7) members as follows:
As potential representatives who would be speaking and acting on behalf of the State of Tennessee, all proposed Commissioners should be duly elected in a general election of all interested citizens across the state. Until and unless such elections are held, the remainder of this Section is invalid due to vested interests by the proposed Commissioners and potential conflict of interest issues to the State of Tennessee.

The terms of service and other issues for the Officers of the proposed Commission would be better suited for inclusion in the Commission's By-Laws.


(1) One (1) member from each of the four (4) metropolitan areas: Shelby, Davidson, Knox and Hamilton, and counties contiguous thereto;
(2) One (1) member from each of the three (3) grand divisions of the state; and
(3) One (1) member from each Native American Indian nation or tribe located within Tennessee, and recognized by the state per recognition guidelines established by the commission.

(b)
(1) The Tennessee Native American convention shall submit a list of not less than two (2) names for each position on the commission to be appointed.
(2) Accompanying each nominee's name submitted shall be a resume, including the nominee's educational background, work history, heritage, description of why the nominee would be a suitable commissioner and the democratic process and results that led to the nomination.
(3) Preference in selection of at least five (5) Indian commissioners shall be given to Native American Indians, i.e., persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America, and who maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.
(4) Each member of the commission of Indian affairs shall be a resident of Tennessee.

(c) From the names submitted by the Tennessee Native American convention, the speaker of the senate shall appoint two (2) commissioners from two (2) areas, the speaker of the house shall appoint two (2) commissioners from two (2) areas and the governor shall appoint three (3) commissioners from three (3) areas. The governor shall appoint no more than two (2) commissioners from metropolitan areas, and each speaker shall appoint no more than one (1) member from metropolitan areas.

(d) If the speaker of the house does not make his appointments within ninety (90) calendar days, the appointments shall be made by the speaker of the senate. If the speaker of the senate does not make his appointments within ninety (90) calendar days, the appointments shall be made by the governor. If the governor does not make his appointments within ninety (90) calendar days, the appointments shall be made by the speaker of the house.

(e) Commissioners shall serve for four-year terms and shall continue in office until the expiration of their terms for which they were respectively appointed and until such time as their successors are appointed.

(f) Commissioners shall be at least eighteen (18) years of age upon their appointment and shall have been residents of Tennessee for at least one (1) year.

(g) To stagger the terms of the commission members, the speakers shall make the initial appointments from the list of nominees in the following manner:
(1) The initial terms of commissioners from the three (3) grand divisions shall end on October 30, 2003; and
(2) The initial terms of the commissioners from the four (4) metropolitan areas shall end on October 30, 2005.

(h) Any member appointed to fill a vacancy shall be appointed for the remainder of the term of the member causing the vacancy. The appointing authority of the vacancy shall rotate among the appointing authorities.

(i) The members of the commission shall elect a chair, a vice chair and a secretary from among its members. Officers shall serve terms of two (2) years.

(j) Commission members shall serve without compensation.

SECTION 6.
(a) Commission meetings shall be held at least quarterly.

(b) Commission meetings shall be held on Saturdays. The locations of commission meetings shall rotate among the cities of Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

(c) Prior to a commission meeting, at least ten (10) days' notice shall be given in writing to all Native American organizations in Tennessee that have requested such notification. Notice shall be given by mail and by E-mail, if available. The commission shall also place notice of its meeting times and places on the website of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs.
The Commission should contact all known Native American groups and organizations in the State of Tennessee directly, regardless of any previously expressed interest by any group or organization, to allow for the opportunity to have a say in any pending issues the Commission might address. Notice of all Commission meetings should also be placed in all major sources of broadcasting news information across the State, including newspapers.

(d) The minutes of all commission meetings shall be placed on the website of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs within one hundred (100) days of the meeting. Minutes of all prior commission meetings shall be accessible on the commission's website.
The minutes of all commission meetings should be placed on the website of the Commission within 45 days of each meeting. All previous minutes of the Commission should be easily accessible and archived on the Commission’s website.

(e)
(1) Annual reports of the commission shall be approved within forty-five (45) days of their submission to the commission.
(2) Annual reports of the commission shall be placed on the website of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs for public access within forty-five (45) days of their approval.
(3) All prior annual reports shall be accessible on the commission's website.

(f) Four (4) commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the conducting of business of the commission.

(g) Agendas for commission meetings shall be delivered to each member of the commission at least one (1) week prior to the commission meeting.

(h) Minutes of all commission meetings shall be mailed or E-mailed to all commission members.
(i) Roberts' Rules of Order shall govern meetings of the commission when not in conflict with specific bylaws or other rules as may be adopted by the board.

(j) The term of any member who misses two (2) consecutive meetings of the commission without good cause may be terminated by a majority vote of the remaining members of the commission.

(k)
(1) Commission meetings shall not be adjourned until members of the public attending such meeting have had an opportunity to address the commission.
(2) A summary of comments made by members of the public attending such meetings shall be entered into the minutes of the commission.
If a summary of comments from the Commissioner’s are to be entered into the minutes, then it would be appropriate that a summary of comments made by the public should also be entered.
If Commissioner’s comments are to be detailed in the minutes, then comments made by the public should also be detailed and entered into the minutes.


(l) The chairperson shall appoint three (3) members of the commission to establish a rules commission. The rules commission shall develop procedural and operating rules for the commission. The commission shall approve of all proposed rules by a majority vote before such rules take effect.

SECTION 7.
No member or employee of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs shall, in such person's capacity as a member or employee of the commission, enter into any litigation without the approval of the commission by a majority vote of the commission. Such approval shall be part of the minutes of the meeting in which such approval is granted. Nothing in this act shall prohibit a member or employee of the commission from entering into any litigation in such person's individual capacity.

SECTION 8.
(a) Fiscal records shall be kept by the commissioner of environment and conservation and will be subject to audit as authorized by § 8-4-109 or a certified public accountant.
The administration of the Commission records by TnDEC, and audit of the Commission’s records will be funded by the Commission through funds it has raised for its own operations.

(b) The audit report will become a part of the annual report and will be submitted in accordance with the regulations governing preparation and submission of the annual report.

SECTION 9.
(a) The commission may, subject to legislative or other funds that would accrue to the commission, employ an executive director to carry out the day-to-day responsibilities and business of the commission. The executive director is subject to dismissal by a majority vote of the commission.
Finding sources of funding is the sole responsibility of the Commission, working with TnDEC on applying for grants and other sources of revenue. Implementation and use of funds will be the responsibility of the Commission, provided it does not present a vested interest or conflict of interest to the State of Tennessee. However, there is no system in place or addressed for accountability or to provide for "checks and balance" to prevent possible misuse of funds.

(b) The executive director, also subject to legislative or other funds that would accrue to the commission, may hire additional staff and consultants to assist in the discharge of the executive director's responsibilities, as determined by the commission.
Finding sources of funding is the sole responsibility of the Commission, working with TnDEC on applying for grants and other sources of revenue. Implementation and use of funds will be the responsibility of the Commission, provided it does not present a vested interest or conflict of interest to the State of Tennessee. However, there is no system in place or addressed for accountability or to provide for "checks and balance" to prevent possible misuse of funds.

(c) The executive director shall not be a member of the commission. (d) In the absence of employed staff, the chair of the commission shall be responsible for the day-to-day responsibilities and business of the commission.

SECTION 10.
Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 4-29-226(a), is amended by adding a new item thereto, as follows:

( ) Commission of Indian affairs, created by section 2 of this act;

SECTION 11.
All parts of this section do not apply and should be stricken from this Bill, as the previous commissioners of the Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs were considered employees of the State. As per the Amendment added to the Bill on April 22, 2003, neither the Commission or its commissioners or any other employees of the Commission will be State employees.
All parts of this section present a conflict of interest to the State of Tennessee.


(a) All programs and data administered by the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs prior to the effective date of this act shall be transferred to and administered by the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act.

(b) All staff, staff positions, offices, equipment, supplies, property, facilities, funds and other resources of any program under the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs shall be transferred to the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act.

(c)
(1) All contracts and leases entered into by the past Tennessee commission of Indian affairs with any entity, corporation, agency, enterprise, association or person, prior to the effective date of this act, shall continue in full force and effect as to all provisions in accordance with the terms and conditions of such contracts or leases in existence on the effective date of this act, to the same extent as if such contracts or leases had originally been entered into by and between such entity, corporation, agency, enterprise, association or person and the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act, unless and until such contracts or leases expire or are duly amended, modified or terminated by the parties thereto.
(2) The provisions of subdivision (c)(1) shall not be implemented in any manner that violates the prohibition against the impairment of contract obligations as contained in the Constitution of Tennessee, Article I, § 20.
(3) All rules, regulations, policies, orders and decisions promulgated or issued by the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs prior to, and in effect on the effective date of this act shall remain in force and effect and shall be administered and enforced by the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act until duly amended, repealed, expired, modified or superseded.
(6) On the effective date of this act, all references to the existing Tennessee commission of Indian affairs contained in any forms, legal documents, notices and papers of any kind in the possession of or issued by the existing Tennessee commission of Indian affairs shall be deemed references to the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act, and any actions thereon may be brought or maintained in the name of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act as the successor in interest and shall receive the same force and effect as if brought in the name of the predecessor commission.

(d) The transfer of the functions and activities of the past Tennessee commission of Indian affairs to the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act shall not, because of the transfer, result in any impairment, interruption or diminution of the regulatory rights and privileges of the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs.

SECTION 12.
On and after the effective date of this act, the Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act has the authority to receive, administer, allocate, disburse and supervise any grants and funds from whatever sources, including, but not limited to, the federal, state, county and municipal governments on a state, regional, county or any other basis, with respect to any programs or responsibilities outlined in this part or assigned to the commission by law, regulation or order.
Already in place are Federal, State and Local Laws and resources to handle any such issues that would effect Indian affairs. The proposed Commissioners would have a vested interest and present a potential conflict of interest with already established and available resources. For Federally Recognized Indians, there are Tribal and Federal programs and agencies already available to assist Indian people. For all others, there are Federal and State public assistance programs already established to provide help as needed.

There are no measures written into this Bill to provide for a "check and balance" system to prevent possible misuse of public funds and possible fraud stemming from obvious vested interests and possible conflicts of interest.


SECTION 13.
The Tennessee commission of Indian affairs created by this act has the authority, consistent with the statutes and regulations pertaining to the programs and functions transferred herein, to modify or rescind orders, rules and regulations, decisions or policies heretofore issued and to adopt, issue or promulgate new orders, rules and regulations, decisions or policies as may be necessary for the administration of the programs or functions herein transferred.
The potential legal ramifications of this Section are astounding. Proposed Commissioners would have a vested interest and there is the potential of a conflict of interest for the State.

SECTION 14.
This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
If public welfare requires it, the whole of Tennessee’s general public should have a vote and a say in its conception.


Additional Items to be Aware of

On April 22, 2003 (approximately), the subcommittee attached an amendment basically saying:

Amendment:
"by adding the following new section immediately preceding the last section and by renumbering the subsequent section accordingly:
SECTION _____.
(a) Members of the commission are to serve without compensation and shall not be reimbursed for travel expenses.
(b) The commission may appoint an executive director, however, the executive director will not be considered a state employee and any compensation shall be from non state resources.
(c) The commission is authorized to raise and expend funds for the purpose of carrying out the mission of the commission, however, the commission is to operate without dependence on state appropriations.

It needs to be noted that under TDEC, there will be HIDDEN administrative costs associated with the establishment of the TnCIA:

office space in a state/federal building
related office equipment
paperwork with official letterhead
costs associated with long distance phone calls
costs to set up a web site for the Commission on the State of Tennessee's internet site which would include man power costs to the State for a technician to design the site and to continue updating and maintaining the web site (the Bill states that minutes and other information are to be kept on this web site);
other miscellaneous cost associated in a normal office too numerous to mention
AND someone within TDEC will be responsible for managing and filing all of TnCIA paperwork.

Regardless of how it's "cut", there WILL BE some form of funding needed by the State, for the administration of a CIA for Tennessee.

The amendment says the Commission will not be a State agency and Commissioners won't be State employees. In essence, the Commission would be a private group and the Commissioners nothing more than private citizens.

Has there been a legal precedent set previously that allows private groups and citizens to operate out of State and/or Federal buildings?



Additional Comments

Comments posted on a message board:

Also, regarding the amendments to the bill that you have listed. Are there more admendments to the bill you may have left off? Is there an amendment regarding the sunsetting of the new CIA if it fails in it's duties to all Indian groups in Tennessee? And that it is to never be allowed to come before the state house again? How about checking into this and let us know.

This is an interesting development and would provide a logical explain for the sudden, 3, persistent "invitations" to meet with those who support the Bill and discuss the reasons for opposing the Bill.

Prior to the House meeting and realizing there was oppostition, those of us who dared to voice our opposition were said to be "non-indian" and one had a photo taken and put on a website of the Tn Native American Convention (owned and maintained by Tom Kunesh) to use as a racist/racial commentary because some features don't meet stereotypical ideas of what an "indian" should look like.

Politely and publicly, it was asked that the photo be removed. The reply to the request was in the form of blackmail; the end result being the refusal to remove the photo. An attorney in and of the State of Tennessee was contacted last month regarding possible actions.

Teri Ellenwood, as spokesperson and Co-Chair of the TnCIA stated last week (2nd week of May, 2003), not many indians have or use computers. As also stated by the same person several months ago, the "Tn-Ind" list is now the "oldest" in the State (since 1998, I believe - owned and maintained by Tom Kunesh, as are the web sites for the proposed Commission and the Native American Convention). The email group list's archives were once open to the public - making issues available to Indians in Tennessee and elsewhere who might have happened upon it.

It was made a closed list earlier in 2003, effectively shutting out anyone who might want to simply keep up with Indian issues in Tennessee, should they be able to access a computer at a library but not have sufficient skills in creating a web-based email address in which to receive emails on a daily basis. As is often noted on Tom's list, not many know how to unsubscribe from it. Those who are not familiar with computers would not know where to find Tom's list, how to subscribe to it, nor would they know to keep their email program emptied so their incomming email doesn't "bounce".

The verbal attacks, racist comments and innuendo, the lack of and prevention of open communication and, the approval of such actions by others through their silence does not speak well of those leading the proposed TnCIA and TnNAC.

Without a check/balance system already in place before approving the Bill for the proposed Commission, the State of Tennessee opens itself to many potential legal problems and possible lawsuits.



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