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Cherokee Nation Council sustains veto

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council sustained in May the veto of Principal Chief Chad Smith of a legislative act that would allow for political banishment for certain crimes.

The proposed act would have prevented tribal elected officials, appointed officials and department heads convicted of certain crimes from working for the tribe or holding future public office. Banishment would have been determined by a Judicial Appeals Tribunal judge if the individual in question would have been convicted by a jury.

According to Smith, the act as written was too narrow in its overall goal. In addition, the act was open to vague interpretation of who was included in the definition of “department head.”

“I suggest we study this more as to the breadth of the crimes and figure out who it applies to,” Smith told the council. “You already have the greatest power. You have impeachment. If someone violates the public trust, they can be impeached.”

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Smith continued by saying he thought the overall idea was a good one, but the wording of the legislation needed to be studied further and the opportunity provided for a more in-depth discussion of solutions.

In other action, the council passed a resolution opposing State Question 726, commonly referred to as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. After a study of the proposed state question, the council agreed that passage would remove funding from various Cherokee Nation programs.

The council also confirmed the nominations of Sharon Swepston and Johnnie Earp to the Economic Development Trust Authority. Swepston was nominated as a governing board member and Earp was nominated as a board member.

The council also approved grant applications to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also authorized resolutions regarding the approval of rights-of-way over the Arkansas Riverbed.