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Calendar No. 534
113th Congress Report
2d Session 113-260
TO ENCOURAGE THE STATE OF ALASKA TO ENTER INTO INTERGOVERNMENTAL
AGREEMENTS WITH INDIAN TRIBES IN THE STATE RELATING TO THE ENFORCEMENT
OF CERTAIN STATE LAWS BY INDIAN TRIBES, TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE
IN RURAL ALASKA, TO REDUCE ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE, AND FOR OTHER
September 18, 2014.--Ordered to be reported
Mr. Tester, from the Committee on Indian Affairs,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 1474]
The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the
bill (S. 1474) to encourage the state of Alaska to enter into
intergovernmental agreements with Indian tribes in the State
relating to the enforcement of certain State laws by Indian
tribes, to improve the quality of life in rural Alaska, to
reduce alcohol and drug abuse, and for other purposes, having
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an
amendment and recommends that the bill, as amended, do pass.
The purpose of S. 1474 is to supplement State jurisdiction
in Alaska Native villages with enhanced tribal and local
authority to improve the quality of life in rural Alaska by
helping to address and reduce domestic violence against Alaska
Native women and children along with alcohol and drug abuse.
Background and Need for Legislation
Many Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages face
significant public safety challenges and struggle to combat
staggering rates of violent crime with inadequate resources and
technology. There are 229 Federally recognized tribes in
Alaska, which are often geographically isolated by rivers,
oceans, and mountains. Alaska tribes can exercise civil
authority; however, the recent reauthorization of the Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA) has clouded to what extent that civil
authority lies over non-tribal members. Only a handful of
tribes in Alaska have any law enforcement presence. Those
tribes that do have peace officers or tribal police provide
basic law enforcement and those offices have little training or
In Alaska there are approximately 100 tribal courts
exercising tribes' jurisdiction. Many of these tribes have
developed their own constitutions, ordinances and protocols
that incorporate the tribes' traditional values and practices.
Tribal courts in Alaska typically address civil issues such as
child welfare, Indian Child Welfare Act cases, customary
adoptions, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, domestic
violence, and minor juvenile offenses, through tribal remedies.
The State of Alaska has asserted exclusive criminal
jurisdiction over all lands, including Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act and tribal land. Approximately 370 State
troopers have primary responsibility for law enforcement in
rural Alaska, but have a full-time presence in less than half
of the remote Alaska Native villages. Seventy-five villages
lack any law enforcement presence at all. The State exercises
its jurisdiction through the provision of law enforcement and
judicial services from a set of regional locations under the
direction and control of State commissioners and judges.
The 2013 reauthorization of VAWA prohibited Alaska tribes--
with the exception of the Metlakatla Indian Community--from the
criminal jurisdiction expansions granted to other non-Alaskan
tribes. Section 910 of VAWA further prohibited Alaska tribes--
with the exception of the Metlakatla Indian Community--from
issuing and enforcing domestic violence protective orders
against non-member Alaska Natives and non-Natives. In 2013, the
Indian Law and Order Commission issued a report, entitled ``A
Roadmap for Making Native America Safer,'' that recommended
several changes to Federal law to improve public safety
conditions in rural Alaska, including changes that would allow
Alaska Native tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction in their
The Committee on Indian Affairs held a legislative hearing
on S. 1474 on April 2, 2014, where Alaska tribes and the
Department of the Interior testified in support of the bill.
S. 1474 was introduced on August 1, 2013, by Senator Mark
Begich and Senator Lisa Murkowski. The bill was referred to the
Committee on Indian Affairs. On April 2, 2014, the Committee
held a hearing on the bill. On May 21, 2014, the Committee met
to consider the bill. One substitute amendment was offered by
Senator Begich, and the bill, as amended, was adopted
unanimously and ordered favorably reported to the Senate by
Section-by-Section Analysis of Bill as Ordered Reported
Senator Begich filed an amendment in the nature of a
substitute. The bill as amended, would do the following:
Section 1--Short title
The Act may be cited as the ``Alaska Safe Families and
Villages Act of 2014''.
Section 2--Findings and purposes
Section 2 states the findings of Congress and purposes for
the need for this act.
The substitute amendment added statistics and other
findings supporting the need for the legislation. New findings
include references to the Indian Law and Order Commission
Report, which was not complete at the time of the bill's
introduction. The amended language also expands the bill's
purpose to support tribes in the State in the enforcement and
adjudication of tribal laws relating to child abuse and
neglect, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol offenses.
Section 3 defines the key terms used throughout this act.
Section 4--Alaska Safe Families and Villages Self Governance
Section 4 establishes authority for the United States
Attorney General to create the ``Alaska Safe Families and
Villages Self Governance Intergovernmental Grant Program'' to
make grants available to Alaska Native tribes carrying out
intergovernmental agreements with the State of Alaska, in an
effort to provide more local tools and options to combat
village public safety issues. Section 4 also provides
guidelines for tribes that seek to enter into such agreements
and establishes support for the use and execution of tribal
The following are required for tribes to be deemed eligible
for the program:
Submit an application;
Have three fiscal years of clean financial
Demonstrate sufficient capacity to conduct
the program, such as a history operating children's
courts, or other social service or law enforcement
Certify or evidence intent to enter into
negotiations relating to an intergovernmental agreement
with the State.
Section 4 allows tribes that are still in the planning
phase and do not yet have a formalized agreement with the State
to be deemed eligible for the grant program.
Section 5--Alaska Safe Families and Villages Self Governance Tribal Law
The provisions in Section 5 are conceptually modeled after
prior versions of the bill (S. 1192), which would expand tribal
authority over certain matters relating to child abuse,
neglect, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol related
offenses. This section does not require tribes to enter into
agreements with the State.
Tribes can apply directly with the Department of Justice
(DOJ) to participate in the Alaska Self Governance Tribal Law
Project. Once approved, the participating tribe would be
eligible to exercise civil jurisdiction concurrent with the
State over (A) any member of, or person eligible for membership
in, the Indian tribe; and (B) any nonmember of the Indian
tribe, if the nonmember resides or is located in the remote
Alaska Native village in which the Indian tribe operates.
The intent is to hold village residents' locally
accountable for troublesome behavior, to minimize village
residents' entanglement in the complex state judicial and
incarceration systems, and to support local public safety
presence that is predictable, accountable, respected, and
culturally relevant in an effort to decrease public safety
problems in remote Alaska Native villages by providing more
tools for tribal governments and tribal courts.
Section 5 holds participating tribes accountable to the
protections found in Title II of the Indian Civil Rights Act,
which includes due process and the right to a jury of one's
peers, for all tribally imposed civil sanctions. There is no
limit on the number of tribes that can apply and participate in
Section 6 clarifies the effects of the bill, including
provisions that explicitly state that the bill does not
establish Indian Country within the state, nor does it confer
criminal jurisdiction on a tribe, unless agreed to in an
intergovernmental agreement with the State.
Section 7--Technical assistance
Section 7 provides for expanded technical assistance by the
Attorney General to Indian tribes within the State of Alaska.
Section 8 makes participating tribes eligible for DOI--
Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal court and law enforcement
programs and funding.
Section 9--Repeal of special rule for State of Alaska
Section 9 repeals Section 910 of the Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act of 2013 (18 U.S.C. 2265 note; Public Law
113-4) which prohibits Alaska tribes--other than the Metlakatla
Indian Community--from issuing and enforcing domestic violence
protective orders against non-member Alaska Natives and non-
Cost and Budgetary Considerations
The following cost estimate, as provided by the
Congressional Budget Office, dated September 12, 2014, was
prepared for S. 1474:
September 12, 2014.
Hon. Jon Tester,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1474, the Alaska
Safe Families and Villages Act of 2014.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark
Douglas W. Elmendorf.
S. 1474--The Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act of 2013
Summary: S. 1474 would direct the Department of Justice
(DOJ) to make grants to Alaskan Indian tribes to assist them in
forming intergovernmental agreements with the state of Alaska.
Such agreements would aim to reduce domestic violence and drug
abuse and improve the criminal justice system. The bill also
would authorize DOJ to provide Alaskan tribes with training and
technical assistance on certain judicial matters.
Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO
estimates that implementing S. 1474 would cost $14 million over
the 2015-2019 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply to
this legislation because it would not affect direct spending or
S. 1474 contains an intergovernmental mandate as defined in
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by requiring states to
give full faith and credit to court orders and decrees issued
by some Alaskan tribes. CBO estimates that the cost to comply
with that mandate would be small and well below the threshold
established in that act ($76 million in 2014, adjusted annually
S. 1474 also contains a private-sector mandate as defined
in UMRA by eliminating an existing right of action against the
state of Alaska for the actions carried out by tribes
participating in grant programs established by the bill. CBO
estimates that the cost of complying with the mandate would
fall below the private-sector threshold established in UMRA
($152 million in 2014, adjusted annually for inflation).
Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated
budgetary effects of S. 1474 are shown in the following table.
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 750
(administration of justice)
Based on information from DOJ about the cost of
establishing and maintaining new programs for Indian tribes in
remote areas of Alaska, CBO estimates that implementing S. 1474
would require funding of $16 million over the 2015-2019 period.
We expect DOJ to use those funds to hire additional staff in
Alaska, provide training and technical assistance to Indian
tribes, and award grants to selected tribes. CBO assumes that
the estimated amounts will be appropriated near the start of
each fiscal year and that outlays will follow the historical
rate of spending for similar activities.
Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
Estimated impact on state and local Governments: S. 1474
contains an intergovernmental mandate as defined in UMRA by
requiring states to give full faith and credit to court orders
and decrees issued by some Alaskan tribes. Some, but not all,
states currently recognize the actions of tribal courts. Based
on information from state representatives, CBO expects that the
tribes would be issuing relatively few orders that would need
to be enforced by other jurisdictions and the costs for states
to enforce those orders would be small and well below the
threshold established in that act ($76 million in 2014,
adjusted annually for inflation).
Estimated impact on the private sector: S. 1474 would
impose a private-sector mandate as defined in UMRA by
eliminating an existing right of action against the state of
Alaska. The legislation would authorize Indian tribes in Alaska
that participate in the programs established by the bill to
enforce certain state and tribal laws on Indian land. The
legislation also would eliminate liability for the state, or
any political subdivision of the state, for the actions carried
out by tribes participating in those programs. The cost of the
mandate would be the value of forgone compensation for damages
that would have been awarded to private entities in claims
against the state of Alaska. Because of the relatively low cap
on damages that can be awarded in actions against Alaska, CBO
estimates that the annual cost of complying with the mandate
would fall below the private-sector threshold established in
UMRA ($152 million in 2014, adjusted annually for inflation).
Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Mark Grabowicz; Impact
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Melissa Merrell;
Impact on the Private Sector: Marin Burnett.
Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant
Director for Budget Analysis.
Regulatory and Paperwork Impact Statement
Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 1474 will
have a minimal impact on regulatory or paperwork requirements.
The Committee has received no communications from the
Executive Branch regarding S. 1474.
Changes in Existing Law
In accordance with subsection 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by
the bill S. 1474, as ordered reported, are shown as follows
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black
brackets, new matter printed in italic):
18 U.S.C. 2265 note; Public Law 113-4 (Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act of 2013)
[SEC. 910. SPECIAL RULE FOR THE STATE OF ALASKA
(a) Expanded Jurisdiction.--In the State of Alaska, the
amendments made by sections 904 and 905 shall only apply to the
Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18, United
States Code) of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island
(b) Retained Jurisdiction.--The jurisdiction and authority
of each Indian tribe in the State of Alaska under section
2265(e) of title 18, United States Code (as in effect on the
day before the date of enactment of this Act)--
(1) shall remain in full force and effect; and
(2) are not limited or diminished by this Act or any
amendment made by this Act.
(c) Savings Provision.--Nothing in this Act or an amendment
made by this Act limits or diminishes the jurisdiction of the
State of Alaska, any subdivision of the State of Alaska, or any
Indian tribe in the State of Alaska.]