HEARTH Act Signed into Law >>

July 31st, 2012

HEARTH Act Signed into Law

On Monday, July 30th President Obama signed into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act. The legislation allows tribes to lease restricted lands for residential, business, public, religious, educational or recreational purposes pursuant to tribal law without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

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. Under the Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own laws and regulations governing certain leasing of Indian lands. Upon Secretarial approval of these tribal regulations, tribal governments will have the authority to process land leases without the prerequisite of Bureau of Indian Affairs approval, which in the past has slowed the process. This new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country.

“The HEARTH Act had strong bi-partisan support. It’s unanimous passage demonstrates that Congress can make progress on important legislation for Indian Country to help create jobs and improve the economy, ” said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

Congressman Martin Heinirch (D-NM) sponsored the legislation and first introduced the bill in 2009. The Act passed in the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote on May 15, 2012, and passed in the Senate by a unanimous vote on July 17, 2012.

Congressman Heinrich said that “tribal communities should be able to make their own decisions about how to use their own land, and the HEARTH Act will give them the freedom to do so. The last thing the federal government should do is stand in the way of a family who wants to buy a home, and this bill will help make it easier for Native families to buy and build houses in the communities where their families have lived for generations.”

Click HERE to see the full text of the HEARTH Act

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