HEARTH Act Passes Congress – Heads to President for Signature >>

July 17th, 2012

HEARTH Act Passes Congress – Heads to President for Signature

NCAI released the following on the passage of the HEARTH Act:

In good news for Indian tribes, this morning the Senate passed H.R. 205, the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act, by unanimous consent. The bill passed the House of Representatives in May, and is expected to be signed by the President in the near future. The new law will be a significant step forward for tribal self-determination and updating the tribal trust lands management system. Congratulations to all you who advocated for the bill.

The HEARTH Act will authorize surface leasing of tribal lands without approval from the Secretary of the Interior. Instead, tribal leases can be approved by the tribe under tribal leasing regulations, which would be approved by the Secretary. The new law will enable tribes to move much more quickly on leasing and economic development, while maintaining the Secretary’s trust responsibility to oversee trust lands. It is an extension of the Navajo Leasing Act to all Indian tribes.

Indian tribes must take action in order to use the new authority of the HEARTH Act. In order to use this law, tribal governments must develop their own leasing regulations which are consistent with the Secretary’s regulations and include an environmental review process. The Secretary has 120 days to review and approve or disapprove any tribal regulations. After approval of the tribal regulations, tribes can engage in surface leasing without the approval of Interior on each lease.

Please thank all of the members of Congress who supported this bill, as well as the Obama Administration for their support. The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate – so all Members should be thanked. In the House, the legislation was introduced by Rep. Mark Heinrich (NM) and the bill received strong support from Representatives Hastings, Markey, Young, Boren, Cole and Kildee and many co-sponsors. The Senate version of the same bill was introduced by Senator John Barrasso, and co-sponsored by Senators Akaka, Bingaman, Cantwell, Enzi, Johnson, Tester, Thune and Udall (NM). The strong bi-partisan support for the legislation is notable, as it demonstrates that Congress continues to work in a bi-partisan fashion to address the concerns of Indian tribal governments and improve economic development in Indian country.

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