The Fort Sill Apache Tribe asked the New Mexico Supreme Court last Friday to reconsider the court’s decision to block the tribe from access to gaming compacts. The request comes less than a month after the court upheld Gov. Susana Martinez’s decision to keep Fort Sill from signing on to a gaming compact. Fort Sill Chairman Jeff Haozous argues that Martinez is “actively blocking” the tribe’s attempts to rebuild a community in southern New Mexico. In February, Fort Sill asked New Mexico’s high court to allow the tribe to sign a gaming compact. Three of the justices decided to deny the tribe’s petition, with no explanation or opinion.
The New Mexico Supreme Court denied a request by a southern New Mexico Native American tribe earlier this week that would have paved the way for the tribe to build a gaming facility. Three of the five justices agreed to deny a petition from the Fort Sill Apache tribe to be able to sign on to a recently approved gaming compact. The court did not issue an opinion or any reason why they denied the tribe’s request. In a statement, Fort Sill Apache Chairman Jeff Haozous said the group is not happy with the court’s decision, but that they are not giving up. “Although we are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to deny our petition, we are steadfast in our resolve to be treated fairly and equally by this administration.
The Senate approved a tribal gaming compact by vote of 35 to 7 on Wednesday evening. After an hour-long debate, Senators voted to send the proposed gaming compact to the House floor. The compact, which was negotiated between representatives of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office and five New Mexico tribes, would expire in 2037. See our primer on gaming compacts written before the session. Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, who is chairman of the Committee on Compacts, presented the compact in the form of a Joint Resolution.
The Committee on Compacts met on Saturday and sent a proposed gaming compact between the state and tribes to the Senate on a 15 to 1 vote. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, was the only member to cast a dissenting vote. He said he thought there are already too many casinos in the state. The five tribes that negotiated with Gov. Susana Martinez’s office urged the committee to approve the proposed compact. Each tribe representative had different talking points, but they all stressed that the compact should to be approved soon to keep casino doors open and keep money flowing into the state’s coffers.
A legislative committee tasked with approving a gaming agreement between Native American tribes and New Mexico met for the first time on Tuesday. The Committee on Compacts heard from a representative of the governor’s office, and later asked questions, about the proposed gaming compact. The committee did not hear from the public or tribal officials but will at a future hearing. Jessica Hernandez, deputy chief-of-staff and general counsel for Gov. Susana Martinez, briefed the committee made up of Senators and Representatives about the proposed agreement between the state and five tribes. Some of the differences she highlighted were revenue sharing percentages and player credit lines.
Representatives and tribal leaders from around New Mexico addressed lawmakers on the Senate floor on Wednesday. Tribal members addressed their concerns about a working relationship with the state including ways to increase revenue. The groups were invited by the Senate in an effort to fix what Democrats said was a slight by Governor Susana Martinez last week. Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, called a committee of the whole Senate and invited members of the House to attend. Sanchez told New Mexico Political Report that he asked the groups to come back after it was apparent that they were not happy.