Two Murkowski Bills Pass Senate Indian Affairs Committee

Bills to Streamline Federal Permitting, Transfer Land for Healthcare Headed to Senate

Today the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed two pieces of legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). S.91, the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017, which strengthens and reforms Public Law 102-477 (referred to as “477”), a comprehensive Native employment and training program. S.269 transfers property to both the Tanana Tribal Council and Bristol Bay Area Health to be used in connection with health and social services programs.

“I appreciate my colleagues for supporting my efforts to reform and strengthen the 477 program, one of the most innovative of federal Indian programs in my opinion. This program has proven an effective tool in support of tribal self-determination, and strengthening it is a crucial step in simply getting the government out of the way so communities can move forward to improve their quality of life,” said Senator Murkowski. “Further, I thank my colleagues for recognizing the need to increase access to healthcare in rural Alaska, and supporting my bill to help allow tribes provide the best services possible, whenever possible, in their home communities.”

“The 477 program is one of the best tools that we have available to allow Native communities in Alaska and across the nation to effectively invest in their communities. It allows us to negotiate grants and contracts across all departments, consolidate them into a single plan, program and budget, and then maximize programs that respond best to community need,” said Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council. “This allows us to invest more program dollars directly into the community, so that we can be more creative and work in a much more efficient and productive manner, connecting people to their full potential.”

Background on S.91: This legislation, introduced by Senator Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan, will make the 477 program permanent, expand the types and sources of funding available, resolve plan approval and appeal processes, and ensure that funds will be transferred and require only one report.

Public Law 102-477 is unique in that it allows federally-recognized tribes and Alaska Native entities to combine formula-funded federal grant funds into a single plan with a single budget and a single reporting system. The legislation allows for implementation of plans for the purpose of economic development, job training, welfare-to-work and tribal work experience, skill development, facilitation of employment, assisting Indian youth and adults to succeed in the workforce, and encouraging self-sufficiency.

Background on S.269: This legislation, also introduced by Senator Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan, directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to convey property to both the Tanana Tribal Council and Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation. This land will be used in connection with health and social services programs in both Tanana and Dillingham. The land transfers will allow the Tanana Tribal Council develop a Community Wellness Center and the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation to continue expansion of their stand-alone dental clinic.

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska