Piliero Mazza & Pargament, PLLC Vol. 3, Issue 5 May 2001

Addressing Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation Legal and Business Issues


The articles shown here are excerpts -- if you'd like to subscribe to Tribal Advocate, please contact Susan Brock at (202) 857-1000 or at


A R T I C L E S


EMPLOYMENT FUTA Amendments Elevate Tribes to Governmental Status


REGULATIONS Bureau of Indian Affairs Again Delays Effective Date for Land Acquisition Regulations


COURT WATCH Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Federal Set-Aside Program


LEGISLATION Study Prompts Introduction of Native American "Hate Crimes" Bill


INTERVIEW Tribal Advocate Speaks with Deputy Chief Gerald Vaughan of the FCC


EMPLOYMENT

FUTA Amendments Elevate Tribes to Governmental Status

Prior to leaving office, former President Clinton signed into law the “Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2001,” (“CRTRA” or “Act”) which included certain amendments to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (“FUTA”) providing for more favorable treatment of Indian tribes as employers. These amendments re-classified tribes, and tribally-owned companies, as governments for purposes of FUTA. As discussed further below, this change in classification exempts tribes from payment of federal taxes under FUTA and allows them to limit their liability for state taxes to the amounts actually paid to unemployed workers by the state.

 


REGULATIONS

Bureau of Indian Affairs Again Delays Effective Date for Land Acquisition Regulations

On April 16, 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) published a notice in the Federal Register again delaying the effective date of the Land Acquisition Regulations. The new date is August 13, 2001. The BIA is seeking comments on whether the final rule should be amended, in whole or in part, or withdrawn in whole or in part. Submit comments to Terry Virden, Director, Office of Trust Responsibilities, Mail Stop: 4513-MIB, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240. Comments must be received by June 15, 2001 or by e-mail to [email protected]

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COURT WATCH

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Federal Set-Aside Program

Perhaps one of the most important advantages that tribally-owned firms have in venturing into the business of federal government contracting is their status as “disadvantaged business enterprises” (“DBEs”) or “socially disadvantaged” firms under Small Business Administration (“SBA”) programs. This status can reap substantial benefits to tribally-owned companies, including, in some cases, sole-source contracts under the SBA’s Section 8(a) program. Moreover, unlike other minority businesses, tribally-owned firms are eligible to receive sole-source awards under the 8(a) program without any limitation on the value of those contracts. It is not surprising, therefore, that increasing numbers of tribally-owned firms are venturing into the world federal contracting.

The constitutionality of federal contracting set-aside programs, however, has been under attack for several years. In a landmark decision in 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered an opinion in the Adarand case that heightened the constitutional standards by which such set-aside programs must be reviewed.

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LEGISLATION

Study Prompts Introduction Of Native American “Hate Crimes” Bill

On March 22, 2001, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that is designed to reduce “hate crimes” against Native Americans. Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) is the sponsor of this bill, the “Native American Hate Crimes and Criminal Justice Grant Program Act.” The bill is a response to a recent study by the Department of Justice=s Bureau of Justice Statistics ([email protected]) indicating that violent crimes against Native Americans are at an alarmingly high rate, despite the nationwide decrease in violent crime.

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INTERVIEW

Tribal Advocate Speaks with Deputy Chief Gerald Vaughan of the FCC

The Tribal Advocate recently had the pleasure of speaking with Gerald P. Vaughan, Deputy Chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau within the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Vaughan is responsible for the design and implementation of the Indian Telecommunications Training Initiative, a program designed to bring affordable telecommunications to tribal lands. The following article is based on our interview with Mr. Vaughan.

Q: How Did the Indian Telecom Training Initiative Begin?

A: In 1996 the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC" or the "Commission") initiated a study to determine the extent of telephone services available in the U.S. In the study, the Commission learned that, although 94 percent of the country had access to telephone service, many Native American reservations and Alaska Native villages had little or no service, primarily due to the high cost of servicing remote locations.

To remedy the situation, the FCC implemented several programs aimed at making telephone service more accessible and affordable for tribes and villages. In June 2000, it published a policy statement recognizing tribal sovereignty, the federal trust responsibility and Indian self-governance, making the FCC only the second governmental agency to do so. As a result, the FCC and businesses seeking FCC licensing for tribal lands must deal directly with tribal governments.

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