Advocacy/Legislative Update 10.23.20

PROGRESS ACT signed…but no real progress

President Donald Trump finally signed S.209, the Practical Reforms and Other Goals To Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act, into law, a month after the bill cleared its final hurdle in Congress.

S.209, also known as the PROGRESS Act, implements long-overdue reforms to help tribes exercise greater self-governance over programs meant for their people. The bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support as it made its way through Capitol Hill.

But in signing S.209 on Wednesday afternoon, Trump offered some major misgivings. He said his administration would not follow certain provisions of the new law if he doesn’t feel like it.  According to Trump, the PROGRESS Act “includes several provisions that raise constitutional concerns.” For example, he said he would not ensure tribes get the full funding they are owed under self-governance compacts.  

Ambler Road Leads to Courthouse

Tanana Chiefs Conference along with five other Interior villages filed suit against three federal agencies over the permitting process for the road to the Ambler Mining District.  The suit alleges that the Environmental Impact Analysis was “rushed, flawed, and premature.” The construction of the road is being handled by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.  Story here.

What is Rank Choice Voting?

Rank choice voting simply allows people to shift their support (mid-count) from a losing candidate to a more viable candidate, similar to how we select our Chief/Chairman.  For the voter the process is as easy as rating your favorite ice cream flavor: who do you like best, second best, third best, and so on.  If any candidate gets over 50% of the vote he or she wins and the election is over.  If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated and those who marked that candidate as No. 1 get their second choice counted instead.  That can go on for several rounds until a candidate emerges with a majority.  Still confused?  Watch this handy video here.

With ranked choice, voters can support outsider candidates without worrying about wasting their ballots. And candidates can win only with support — or at least tolerance — from a majority of the electorate, which can help prevent polarization.

State News:

National News: