Regulatory Affairs


May 27, 2014 10:47 AM | Posted by Coyle, Brie | Permalink
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that tribal sovereign immunity prevents the State from suing an Indian Tribe for operating an off-reservation casino in northern Michigan. read more
May 23, 2014 2:16 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn announced publication of proposed federal regulations under 25 CFR 83 to reform the process by which the Department of the Interior officially recognizes Indian tribes. read more
May 14, 2014 10:40 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The Washington State Bar Association Indian Law Section is co-sponsoring the 26th Annual WSBA Indian Law Seminar—Staying Current. The May 23 seminar is being . . . read more
April 2, 2014 12:58 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris and Coyle, Brie | Permalink
On March 31, 2014, the Department of Revenue issued a Property Tax Advisory which advised that, under federal law, permanent improvements on tribal trust land are exempt from state property tax irrespective of tribal ownership. read more
March 18, 2014 2:25 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The Washington State legislature wrapped up its 2014 session March 13, 2014. In this short 60-day session, the legislature passed a few pieces of legislation significant to tribes. The below mentioned bills have all been sent to Governor Inslee for approval . . . read more
March 14, 2014 4:03 PM | Posted by Coyle, Brie | Permalink
On March 6, 2014, the Big Lagoon Rancheria Tribe filed its petition for rehearing, with suggestion for rehearing en banc. The petition argues that rehearing is necessary to "correct fundamental mistakes of fact and law" contained in the January 21, 2014, majority opinion. read more
March 13, 2014 1:56 PM | Posted by Coyle, Brie | Permalink
Yesterday, the Department of the Interior released an opinion from the Solicitor that discusses the legal meaning of "under federal jurisdiction" in the Indian Reorganization Act (the "IRA").  This opinion is in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar . . . read more
January 29, 2014 10:53 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey and Coyle, Brie | Permalink
On January 21, 2014, the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a challenge to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' (BIA) regulations governing surface leasing on . . . read more
January 10, 2014 8:24 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The IRS Indian Tribal Governments section issued its winter newsletter with information regarding tax reporting and upcoming training opportunities. read more
January 8, 2014 9:25 AM | Posted by Coyle, Briana | Permalink
In December, the Chickasaw Nation and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe filed their opening briefs in the Tenth Circuit and Sixth Circuit, respectively. Both tribes are challenging the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) . . . read more
January 6, 2014 11:27 AM | Posted by Masse, Christine | Permalink
On December 26, 2013, the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma (CNA) filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn arising out of Washburn's letter disapproving a proposed amendment to the gaming compact between the Tribe and the State of Oklahoma related to Internet gaming . . . read more
December 6, 2013 4:02 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink

The 11th Annual Northwest Gaming Law Summit is next week in Seattle on December 12th and 13th. Conference co-chairs Gabe Galanda, Robert Tull, and Frank Miller have put together a strong program again this year.

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October 28, 2013 3:33 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
On October 25, several hundred people came together to celebrate breaking ground on a $5 million longhouse on the University of Washington's Seattle campus. read more
September 25, 2013 1:21 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink

On September 23, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the County's petition for rehearing and its petition for rehearing en banc. . .

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August 22, 2013 8:07 AM | Posted by Rice, David | Permalink
United States Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach issued a report and recommendation finding that the Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over American Indian tribes. read more
August 15, 2013 10:47 AM | Posted by Miller Nash LLP | Permalink
We are pleased to announce that among the thirty Miller Nash attorneys named today to The Best Lawyers in America® list, Christine Masse was named as the 2014 Seattle gaming law "Lawyer of the Year." read more
August 15, 2013 9:13 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Not only has the Washington State Gambling Commission welcomed a new director, Dave Trujillo, in the past few months, but it is also seeing many new faces on the five-member commission, as well as legislative ex officio members of the commission read more
August 13, 2013 10:09 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
One of the top tax priorities for tribes and tribal organizations nationwide has been to codify and broaden the General Welfare Exclusion as it applies to Indian tribes through an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code. read more
August 1, 2013 1:43 PM | Posted by Masse, Christine | Permalink
On Tuesday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Michael L. Connor to the position of Deputy Secretary, Department of the Interior. Connor is the Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), a position he has held since 2009. read more
July 1, 2013 8:21 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris & Beaton, Travis - 2013 law clerk | Permalink
On June 26, 2013, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs, an executive body devoted to improving the coordination of federal programs related to and operated for the benefit of tribal communities. The Council will be chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, and will include the cabinet-level heads of at least 30 additional executive departments . . . read more
March 26, 2013 1:01 PM | Posted by Masse, Christine | Permalink
The 2013 National Indian Gaming Association Tradeshow & Convention is being held this week in Phoenix, Arizona. read more
March 26, 2013 9:42 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Coughenour vacated a 2001 decision by the Department of Interior (DOI) that denied the Duwamish Tribe recognition. read more
March 5, 2013 9:19 AM | Posted by Masse, Christine | Permalink

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) holds its 2013 executive council winter session in Washington, DC, this week. Hundreds of tribal leaders are in the nation's capital to discuss high-priority issues and hear from members of Congress and officials from the Obama administration. On Tuesday evening, Senator Patty Murray is being awarded the organization’s prestigious Indian Country Leadership Award.

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February 13, 2013 1:50 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
On February 14, the Department of the Interior will hold a tribal consultation session in Seattle outlining how Interior will carry out the land consolidation component of the historic Cobell Settlement. read more
February 12, 2013 1:01 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The U.S. Senate today passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, reauthorizing the Act for the next five years. The reauthorization bill includes critical improvements to extend domestic violence protections to individuals, including women in Tribal communities, who are currently not protected. read more
February 11, 2013 10:28 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The Office of the Department of Interior Secretary has announced the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform will hold public meetings on February 12-13, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. read more
February 11, 2013 8:04 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Senator Maria Cantwell, who is taking over the chairmanship of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today named a Washington native and member of the Skokomish Tribe as the committee's staff director. Mary J. Pavel . . . read more
February 6, 2013 8:33 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink

News reports are circulating that later today President Obama will nominate Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) chief executive Sally Jewell to head the Interior Department.

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January 22, 2013 10:34 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink

Update:  The legislative session is now in full swing.  The Senate has officially selected its leadership and committee posts. 

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November 21, 2012 3:57 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

Tribal leaders will gather in Washington DC on December 4 and 5 to attend two high-level events–the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference and the National Indian Gaming Association's Tribal Leaders Winter Legislative Summit.

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September 25, 2012 11:32 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Kevin Washburn’s confirmation as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs by the U.S. Senate is heralded by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as, “an outstanding addition . . . read more
September 21, 2012 3:51 PM | Posted by Keane, Merril | Permalink
Last Friday, tribal representatives testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs at an oversight hearing titled Per Capita Act and Federal Treatment of Trust Per Capita Distributions . . . read more
August 20, 2012 12:00 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The University of Washington is hosting its annual Indian Law Symposium,  September 6th & 7th. The program highlights include . . . read more
August 8, 2012 9:00 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
With the likelihood of lifting the Federal 2006 ban on Internet gambling looking inevitable, more tribes, including the Tulalip Tribes here in Washington state, are lining up to . . . read more
July 16, 2012 1:45 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Washington’s Quileute Tribe has successfully won back 785 acres originally ceded to the federal government over 157 years ago . . . read more
May 14, 2012 12:50 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The Senate Committee on Finance will host a hearing on May 15th at 10:00 a.m. focused on the impact that tax reform measures would have on tribal governments. read more
April 17, 2012 1:47 PM | Posted by Sasaki, Valerie | Permalink

In its March 27, 2012 opinion, Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Town of Leyard, the US District Court for the District of Connecticut addressed whether the Town of Leyard, Connecticut could impose its ad valorem property tax on slot machines that non-tribal vendors leased to the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.  The court held that the tribe had standing under on a "discrete claim of injury" based on the tribe's "substantive interest in self-government with respect to the state's authority to impose taxation".  The court further held that the Town of Leyard could not impose this tax on the leased slot machines.

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April 11, 2012 10:25 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
In an April 9, 2012 press release, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk will be leaving the Department of the Interior after nearly 3 years of leadership. read more
March 22, 2012 3:07 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The DOJ has proposed federal legislation to better protect women in tribal communities against violent crime. Key provisions in the Violence Against Women 2011 Reauthorization Act (VAWA) (S.1925) would help strengthen law enforcement's ability to stop domestic violence and assaults against women on tribal reservations. read more
March 12, 2012 11:42 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
On March 8 the Washington State Liquor Control Board launched an online auction of the 167 liquor licenses of the state-run stores. read more
March 9, 2012 8:31 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
NCAI is urging tribal leaders to submit comments to the IRS to help form policy on the General Welfare Exclusion from taxable income. Comments are due Wednesday, March 14, 2012. read more
March 9, 2012 8:15 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Governor Chris Gregoire called a 30-day special legislative session beginning at noon on March 12 to address the remaining $1 billion hole in the Washington state budget. read more
March 8, 2012 8:47 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The Washington Senate and House passed a bill to retrocede state civil and criminal jurisdiction back to federal and tribal governments. read more
February 22, 2012 8:48 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The legislature is now considering two bills that would recognize and strengthen tribal sovereignty in Washington state. read more
February 15, 2012 8:07 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

On February 13, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service announced it is extending the time limit for commenting on guidance the agency issued regarding the application of the general welfare exclusion to Indian tribal government programs. Comments may now be submitted through March 14, 2012.

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February 13, 2012 8:49 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that the State of Washington lacks criminal jurisdiction over a treaty fishing access site located along the Columbia River south of Goldendale, Washington.

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February 1, 2012 8:59 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The National Indian Gaming Commission published proposed rule changes in the Federal Register on January 31, 2012. The rule changes would impact appeal proceedings before NIGC, review of tribal facility license submissions, and qualification criteria for tribal self-regulation. read more
January 30, 2012 10:56 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The National Indian Gaming Association Winter Legislative Summit is being held February 7-8 in Washington DC. Topics to be covered include internet gaming, labor issues, land into trust, and the NIGC regulatory process. read more
January 30, 2012 9:34 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

NAFOA, NCAI, ATNI and several other tribal organizations will be hosting a January 31, 2012 webinar to examine the "General Welfare Doctrine" as it is applied to tribal governments by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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January 27, 2012 3:48 PM | Posted by Seffenick, Aubrey | Permalink
As the legislature searches for solutions to Washington State's budget shortfall, another increase in a "sin-tax" on cigarettes has been proposed. read more
November 21, 2011 9:08 AM | Posted by Sasaki, Valerie | Permalink
Internal Revenue Service Notice 2011-94 invites comments from the public about excluding from gross income payments under governmental social benefits programs. Several tribes have asked the IRS to provide guidance about whether programs that the tribes provide to their members qualify for this exclusion. read more
November 16, 2011 3:34 PM | Posted by Sasaki, Valerie | Permalink
The IRS has provided guidance in response to the requests of several tribes for guidance about how to account for per capita payments made to certain trusts. read more
November 7, 2011 10:06 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The IRS announced it is searching for new members to serve on the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities ("ACT"). There are vacancies on the committee for a number of stakeholder groups, including one vacancy for an Indian Tribal Government representative. read more
September 28, 2011 4:36 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has developed draft legislation in an effort to clarify that educational and cultural benefits provided by Indian tribal governments to their members are not subject to income taxation. read more
September 26, 2011 7:52 AM | Posted by Sasaki, Valerie | Permalink
In a decision that is significant for a variety of tax reasons, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe's wholly-owned employee leasing company (Mainstay Business Solutions) was both the statutory and common law employer of the employees that it leased in California, Hawaii, and Nevada. read more
September 23, 2011 11:03 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Governor Chris Gregoire announced yesterday, September 22nd,  that she will call a 30-day special legislative session beginning November 28, after the next state revenue forecast is released. read more
July 22, 2011 11:00 AM | Posted by Masse, Christine M. | Permalink
Microsoft is currently working on a social search application to compete with Google’s social search engine, but along the way may have run into a little naming faux pas with the Tulalip Tribes of Washington. read more
July 20, 2011 3:00 PM | Posted by Miller Nash LLP | Permalink
Two recent noteworthy developments in Federal food safety and nutrition policy provide an opportunity for tribes to receive grants to support tribal food safety and nutrition education programs. read more
July 19, 2011 12:00 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding two roundtable discussions in the coming weeks to discuss taxation issues and also internet gaming. The first discussion, Raising Revenues for our Future, will be held today, July 19, 2011, in Washington DC. read more
July 15, 2011 2:55 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Tribal leaders and Washington State legislators are holding a joint executive legislative work group in Olympia on Monday to discuss issues regarding civil and criminal jurisdiction on tribal lands. read more
July 11, 2011 8:33 AM | Posted by Rice, David | Permalink
On June 22, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted the request of Standing Rock Telecommunications, Inc. ("Standing Rock") to receive federal Universal Service subsidies to support communications services provided on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation ("Reservation"), located on the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. This action is significant because it should now be easier for other Tribally-owned communications providers to obtain federal subsidies to serve their own reservations. read more
July 5, 2011 9:55 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and Northwest Tribal Chairs and Councils are co-organizing the 1st Annual Northwest Sovereignty Summit to be held August 17-18, 2011 at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino in Ocean Shores, WA.

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July 1, 2011 2:17 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
An Arizona U.S. District Court Judge has ruled unconstitutional a law that would have allowed Glendale to annex land owned by the Tohono O'odham Nation. The judge found the Arizona law had the clear purpose and effect of blocking the Department of Interior (DOI) from taking the land into trust pursuant to the Federal Gila Bend Land Replacement Act. read more
July 1, 2011 8:22 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink

The White House announced the launch of "Winning the Future: President Obama and the Native American Community," a web page meant to serve as a tool to help Indian Country navigate the federal government and to share information about President Obama's ongoing efforts on issues affecting Native American communities.

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June 22, 2011 8:35 AM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Following the recent court ruling that allowed the Department of Interior (DOI) to communicate directly with tribal leaders, DOI has announced the first regional tribal leader consultations regarding use of the Cobell settlement proceeds. The first consultation will take place July 15, 2011, in Billings, Montana. read more
June 20, 2011 10:44 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris and Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
On June 15, Governor Gregoire signed SB 5942, which allows bid to privatize the state's distribution center. On June 16, the Seattle Times editorial board said . . . read more
June 17, 2011 1:35 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
In a decision issued last Friday, the Ninth Circuit affirmed that an Indian tribe's inherent power to exclude provides regulatory and adjudicatory jurisdiction over a non-Indian business operating on tribal lands, independent of the Montana test. The court held the Colorado River Indian Tribes ("CRIT") had jurisdiction to evict Water Wheel Camp Recreational Area ("Water Wheel"), a non-Indian business operating on tribal land, when it failed to vacate peaceably. read more
June 10, 2011 8:35 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of the Interior ("Interior") announced that it now has authorization to communicate directly with tribal leaders about the land consolidation provisions of the Cobell settlement. read more
June 9, 2011 3:06 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Today (June 9, 2011) the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs conducted an oversight hearing on the domestic policy implications of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the "Declaration"). Speakers explored ways that existing domestic policies achieve goals of the Declaration, and what additional domestic policies could help promote the United States as a world leader in indigenous rights. read more
May 18, 2011 1:52 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The Governor's Office of Indian Affairs' 22nd Annual Centennial Accord will be held on June 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Little Creek Casino Resort—Skookum Creek Event Center in Shelton, Washington. read more
May 13, 2011 3:36 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The Washington State Bar Association's 23rd Annual Indian Law Seminar is being held Friday, May 20, in Seattle. read more
April 26, 2011 6:37 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris and Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
The Washington State Legislature has returned to Olympia to begin a 30-day legislative session. The primary goal will be to reconcile the House and Senate proposed budgets. One big-ticket item under debate is the privatization of the Washington State Liquor Control Board's distribution center in Seattle. read more
April 20, 2011 3:05 PM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio (PSPR) ran an interesting story on Tuesday, April 19, about Snohomish County reaching out to local tribes to help fund county government. read more
April 6, 2011 10:32 AM | Posted by Masse, Chris | Permalink
The Center for Women & Democracy's 9th annual "Kicking Up Our Heels" event is being held on April 14 at the Governor's Mansion on the Capital Campus in Olympia and will be honoring Washington's Native American Tribal Women Leaders. read more
April 4, 2011 1:41 PM | Posted by Seffernick, Aubrey | Permalink
Today the National Indian Gaming Commission (the "NIGC") announced a new round of tribal consultations to review a broad swath of its current regulations. read more