Proposed Bills in State Legislature

Since the State Legislature began their 2015 session on January 12th, there have been a number of bills introduced pertaining to tribes located within the state.


House Bill 1280

Establishing a commission on government-to-government relations in Washington

Sponsors: Sawyer, Appleton, Reykdal, S. Hunt, Riccelli, Fitzgibbon, Robinson, Santos, Gregerson, Tarleton

Referred to Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs

Summary: Act would seek to enhance and improve communications and facilitate resolution of issues between tribes and the State. In 1989 the Centennial Accord was signed and in 1999, the New Millennium Agreement was signed which reaffirmed the Centennial Accord. The bill states: “The legislature has a particular concern and interest in growing and maintaining strong relationships with tribes to preserve, protect, and manage resources.” Legislature has not fulfilled the call of the New Millennium Agreement to establish a structure to address issues of mutual concern to the state and tribes. Outside the Governor’s office, the Legislature has its own responsibility to improve and promote the government to government relationship. Currently, the bill states, tribes must often lobby legislators to have their sovereignty recognized or treaty rights protected which erodes tribal sovereignty.

The commission established via the bill would be called the Commission on Indian Services. It would consist of 33 individuals – 2 each from the Senate and the House, and one representative from each of the federally-recognized tribes within the state. The term of office would be 2 years and each tribal representative would need to be appointed by their respective tribal leadership. The commission must adopt rules and sub-committees and must hold at least one annual meeting and develop and submit an annual report to the legislature. An Indian Services Office would also be established within the legislature that would include an executive officer and other staff.


Senate Bill 5160

Creating an office of Native early child care and education

Sponsors: McCoy, Hasegawa, Cleveland, Frockt, Liias, Rolfes, Chase, Habib, and Kohl-Welles

Referred to Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee

Summary: Bill would create an office of Native early childcare and education within the department of early learning to increase support, technical assistance, access, and advocacy for early childcare and education for American Indian and Alaska Native students in Washington State.

The office would facilitate the development and implementation of curricula and instructional materials in native languages that promote pride in the unique heritage, culture, and history of tribal nations. Would also seek funds to develop, in conjunction with tribal nations, and implement support services with the goal of expanding the number of licensed tribal child care providers, increasing the number of American Indian and Alaska Native early child care and education professionals; and providing continued professional development for early child care and education professionals serving Native students.


House Bill 1027 & Senate Bill 5159

Concerning Indian tribes and dental health aide therapy services

Sponsors: Appleton, Gregerson, S. Hunt, Cody, Moscoso, Buys | McCoy, Frokt, Hasegawa, Fraser, Chase, Keiser

Referred to the Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs and Health Care Committees (respectively)

Summary: Recognizes that sovereign tribal governments are in the best position to determine what will work best for the dental needs of their tribal communities. Would allow tribes to train, employ, or contract with a dental health aide in practice settings operated by an Indian health program or an urban Indian organization.


Senate Bill 5290

Authorizing law enforcement and prosecutorial officials of federally recognized Indian tribes access to prescription monitoring data

Sponsors: Braun, Roach, Miloscia, Dammeier, Angel, Habib, Hatfield, Chase, Hobbs, McCoy

Referred to Health Care Committee

Summary: The bill would authorize law enforcement or prosecutorial officials, including local, state, and federal officials and officials of federally recognized tribes, who are engaged in a bona fide specific investigation involving a designated person to access data in the prescription monitoring program.


House Bill 1114

Authorizing and regulating internet poker

Sponsors: Appleton, Buys

Referred to Commerce & Gaming Committee

Summary: The bill seeks to put in place a framework for overseeing online poker practices which currently take place within the State. Framework would establish a regulatory framework by which entities, as authorized by the Washington State Gambling Commission or a tribal regulator, may offer poker games to players within Washington state over the internet. The bill states that where feasible, the governor may enter into multistate agreements allowing for shared player liquidity across common platforms. Bill would authorize “the conducting and playing of internet poker games for money, on any internet capable consumer device.” The bill directs the commission to develop rules governing online poker games, and allows the commission to issue a license to operate an internet poker network.


House Bill 1261

Limiting enforcement action against tribal hunters

Sponsors: Sawyer, Appleton, Stanford, Pollet

Referred to Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs

Summary: Bill would limit enforcement against hunters for those who are a member of a tribe that has explicit treaty hunting rights, hunting regulations in place, has entered into a written access statement with the private forest landowner, and the forest is located within the recognized territory that the tribe ceded to the United States or the established aboriginal hunting grounds of the tribe. Nothing in the bill may be construed to expand, define, or limit the rights of tribal members to hunt according to their treaty rights on private forestland. Rather, the legislature intends that the bill narrowly authorize enforcement jurisdiction over hunting activities when the specific conditions of the bill are met.