The National Congress of American Indians, a lobbying and organizational group for American Indian tribes, has issued an alert about a major threat to tribal sovereignty.
I will only quote a little of the alert here. To contact NCAI for more information: John Dossett, General Counsel firstname.lastname@example.org NCAI Contact Information: Derrick Beetso, Legal Fellow email@example.com
To learn more go to the alliance of tribal sovereigns web site.
“Tobacco Manufacturers and States Target Tribal Tobacco Revenues Through Master Settlement Agreement.
We urge all Indian tribes to begin immediate outreach to their State Attorney General and Governor to ask that the state not sign on the “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU)regarding adjustment of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). (The “Tribal” provisions of the model legislation begin at page 20-37 of the PDF).
Under this proposed agreement, states and tobacco manufacturers are attempting to impose a restrictive state “model statute” on sales of tobacco on tribal lands. Hundreds of millions of tobacco settlement payments would be withheld from states unless they pass and enforce a model statute that targets Indian tribes and attempts to apply state law to all tribal lands. Under the model statute:
[NCIA lists 7 bad outcomes from this proposed agreement.]
Background: The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is an agreement entered into in November 1998, originally between the four largest US tobacco companies and the attorney general of 46 states. The states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of tobacco-related health care costs and exempted the companies from liability regarding harm caused by tobacco use. . . .
In the MSA, the original participating manufacturers agreed to pay a mini-mum of $206 billion over the first twenty-five years of the agreement.
Indian tribes and the Indian Health Service have never been parties to the MSA, despite the enormous medical costs incurred for smoking-related illnesses on Indian reservations. In the early years of the Bush Administration, the Department of Justice decided not to pursue claims against tobacco manufacturers for costs incurred by the IHS and military hospitals for smoking related illnesses. As a result, Indian tribes do not share in the settlement funds from the MSA, and in addition, tobacco delivered to Indian reservations is not required to pay into the escrow settlement fund.
A great deal of the MSA is devoted to protecting the market share of the participating manufacturers (PM’s); the large manufacturers who control most of the market. . . .
In these two provisions of the MSA that have led to the proposed MOU that targets Indian tribes. Apparently, the large tobacco manufacturers have decided that Indian tribes threaten their market share, and want to destroy the entire tobacco economy in Indian country. (See, recent related article in the Wall Street Journal)
One of the least understandable provisions of this agreement seems to cut against the hundreds of tobacco tax agreements and compacts that have been reached in Indian country. In general, these agreements provide that the tribe will collect an equal or similar tax, sometimes with revenue sharing with the state. These agreements ensure the generation of critically important tax revenues for many tribes around the country.
NCAI urges tribes to contact their State Attorney General and Governors and urge them not to support this agreement. This is all of the information we have available, and we would encourage tribes to ask for consultation from their state governments.”