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California State Assembly. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Drafting Tribal Compact Legislation in California

Tribal compact bills normally contain an urgency clause so that they take effect immediately

By Chris Micheli, May 28, 2022 7:22 am

As part of the state government’s formal relationship with Indian tribes in the State of California, the Governor and individual tribes enter into compacts pursuant to federal law. After the Governor negotiates a compact with a tribal government, the Legislature formally adopts the compact by enacting a bill that contains the compact. These bills enact additions or amendments to the Government Code.

For example, recent legislation added a new section to the Government Code to provide language similar to the following:

The following tribal-state gaming compact entered into in accordance with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (18 U.S.C. Secs. 1166 to 1168, inclusive, and 25 U.S.C. Sec. 2701, et seq.) is hereby ratified:

The compact between the State of California and the ___, executed on ____, 2022.

These additions or amendments to the Government Code also usually contain language to the following:

In deference to tribal sovereignty, none of the following shall be deemed a project for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code):

(A) The execution of a tribal-state gaming compact ratified by this section.

(B) The execution of an amendment to a tribal-state gaming compact ratified by this section.

(C) The execution of an intergovernmental agreement between a tribe and a county or city government negotiated pursuant to the express authority of, or as expressly referenced in, a tribal-state gaming compact ratified by this section.

(D) The execution of an intergovernmental agreement between a tribe and the Department of Transportation, or other state agency, negotiated pursuant to the express authority of, or as expressly referenced in, a tribal-state gaming compact ratified by this section.

(E) The on-reservation impacts of compliance with the terms of a tribal-state gaming compact ratified by this section.

Finally, these tribal compact bills normally contain an urgency clause so that they take effect immediately. The finding in these urgency clauses contain language similar to the following:

In order to enhance the economic development, stability, and self-sufficiency of the ___, and to protect the interests of these tribes and their members, the surrounding communities, and the California public at the earliest possible time, it is necessary that this act take effect immediately.

These tribal compact bills are generally voted “up or down” by the Legislature, similar to a negotiated memorandum of understanding, without any proposed changes to the compact itself, which was negotiated between the Governor and the tribal government.

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4 thoughts on “Drafting Tribal Compact Legislation in California

  1. OK, I’ll admit I’m ignorant, but what does a Tribal Gaming Compact have to with the California Environmental Quality Act, that it needs to be stipulated that *NONE* “of the following shall be deemed a project for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act”… ???

  2. Means that injuns don’t have to do this:

    CEQA requires public agencies to “look before they leap” and consider the environmental consequences of their discretionary actions. CEQA is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.

    So, the activities of tribes will not be subject to review by the CEQA standards and can/will proceed on a “so-da-fck-what-white-man?” basis. In other words, injuns and whatever they wanna do is PRE-EXCUSED from any review or oversight actions from the State. Cool, huh? This is one on a long list of reasons that I hate the injuns of California.

    1. Here’s the link to CEQA that injuns are PRE-EXCUSED from. Fckn injuns and the DEMOCRATS who kow-tow to them.

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