The State-Tribal Relations Committee asks members of the public to heed restrictions tribal governments adopt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At its May 8 meeting, the STRC agreed 8-1 to send a letter to the editor asking residents and nonresidents to comply.
The STRC wrote the letter at the request of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council with concurrence from the CSKT Tribal Council after meeting with both last week as part of the committee's role as legislative liaison with tribal governments.
Other topics discussed with the tribes include investigation of missing persons cases, election-related issues, relationships between county and tribal governments, licensing and training of tribal foster homes, turnover among child protection specialists, criminal jurisdiction, runaway youth, motor carrier enforcement, highway construction, treatment courts, and firefighting.
The STRC continued its work on four study topics:
- Highways within reservation boundaries: the STRC will review a legislative proposal in June to allow tribes that have motor carrier service (MCS) patrol agreements with the state to include additional citation authority for MCS officers within reservation boundaries;
- Runaway youth: the STRC will look again in June at a proposal to allow youth who've experienced homelessness as a runaway to graduate with a diploma if they achieve the state's minimum credit requirements and will talk to other states about their experiences allowing minors to consent to receiving shelter if they're homeless;
- Improving communication between the state and tribes in child abuse and neglect cases: DPHHS staff updated the STRC on how child protection specialists are handling cases during COVID-19. The committee also heard about how qualified expert witnesses are selected by county attorneys in cases in which the Indian Child Welfare Act applies.
- HJ 10 study of barriers to voting by American Indians in Montana: the STRC heard from the Secretary of State's Office about how counties will operate mail ballot elections during COVID-19, as well as how a new voter registration database will incorporate technology to correctly assign voters to precincts when a street address is not available.
The STRC also received new data analysis from the Department of Justice about missing persons in Montana and reviewed four legislative recommendations made by the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force created in 2019. The STRC asked to see initial drafts in June on the concepts of creating missing persons response teams and a missing Indigenous persons review team.
The STRC's next meeting is scheduled for June 24-26. The committee hopes to meet with the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board and the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council at that time.
For more information, contact the committee's staff or visit its website:
Committee staff: Hope Stockwell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 406-444-9280
Committee website: http://leg.mt.gov/tribal
The Legislative News.