Maine considers bill to expand tribal sovereignty rights

February 18, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Janet Mills is supporting a bill to reform tribal rights in Maine but continues to push back on a larger bill that would restore the sovereignty rights to the state’s four tribal nations.

Mills and the Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe and Houlton band of Maliseets agreed Thursday to the reforms, which would remove state sales taxes from goods made on tribal land and lift taxes on income earned by tribal members on reservations, The Portland Press Herald reported.

The proposal would also expand online and in-person sports betting businesses to operate on reservations, which drew criticism from the state’s existing casino interests.

Mills’ chief legal adviser Gerald Reid said while the administration supports the reforms, if tribal representatives and Mills did not come to an agreement, “we were determined to have a respectful and constructive dialogue that would help to build trust.”

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Tribal representatives stated that they do not see the new reforms as a replacement for the expansive legislation that would grant tribal nations sovereignty, amending the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act.

The Mills’ office has not responded to requests for comment on the tribal sovereignty issue over the past two weeks, the newspaper reported.