130th Maine Legislature Scorecard
See how your legislators ranked on Wabanaki Alliance priority issues in the Legislative Scorecard for the 130th Maine Legislature (2021-2022). The most important legislation was LD 1626 “An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act.” This bill would have placed the tribes in Maine on equal footing with the 570 other federally recognized tribes across the country in 49 other states. This legislation was weighted more heavily in our scores. The gubernatorial scorecard is based on Governor Janet Mills’ first term as Governor.
Read more about our priority bills and related legislative votes below, and review the scorecards for the Governor and legislators in the House and Senate and see our list of Tribal Champions and Adversaries.
LD 585: An Act To Enhance Tribal-State Collaboration, To Revise the Tax Laws Regarding the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation and To Authorize Casinos, Off-track Betting Facilities, Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and Certain Commercial Tracks To Conduct Sports Wagering
Sponsor: Assistant House Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross
Learn more: LD 585 Bill Page
Status: The bill was passed and signed into law.
LD 585 as amended, requires certain state agencies to designate Tribal liaisons who will be responsible for developing and implementing a policy that promotes positive government-to-government relations between the State of Maine and Wabanaki Nations. This also includes communicating with the Wabanaki Nations when the agencies are taking actions that might substantially and uniquely affect any Wabanaki Nation or their people. Additionally, Maine’s Governor will be required to meet at least annually with the leaders of the Wabanaki Nations in a Tribal-State Summit.
The legislation would implement a few of the same tax rules that apply to Tribal nations and citizens throughout the United States. The Wabanaki Nation governments and their citizens would not be subject to state sales and income tax for activities occurring on Tribal trust or reservation lands, and the Tribal Nations would be able to generate sales tax revenues from sales on their own lands. These are important and necessary steps to support Tribal governments and economies and will also benefit the surrounding non-Tribal rural Maine communities.
The third component of this legislation legalizes and establishes a regulatory framework for sports wagering within the State. Licenses for in-person sports wagering will be available to licensed off-track betting facilities and casinos. Each Wabanaki Nation will be authorized to conduct mobile sports wagering. Ten percent of the adjusted gross sports wagering receipts will go to the State, with a portion of those funds going toward the Gambling Addiction Prevention and Treatment Fund, the State Harness Racing Commission, the Sires Stakes Fund and the Agriculture Fair Promotion Fund.
House Roll Call #573: A YES vote for this roll call was a vote in support of the Wabanaki Alliance position. This vote was a support for the tribes in Maine to have similar tax benefits as other tribal nations across the country; created a process of consultation on tribal issues with Maine State government and provided exclusive licenses to the tribes in Maine for mobile sports betting.
House Roll Call #600: A YES vote for this roll call was a vote in support of the Wabanaki Alliance position. This roll call was a vote in the House for enactment of the legislation.
Senate Roll Call #791: A YES vote for this roll call was a vote in support of the Wabanaki Alliance position.
Senate Roll Call #792: A NO vote on this roll call was a vote in support of the Wabanaki Alliance position. The amendment would have allowed for ten mobile sports betting licenses. This amendment would have allowed for Off Track Betting (OTB) and the casino located in Bangor to have mobile sports betting licenses and undermine the exclusive tribal mobile sports betting licenses. This amendment favored multiple out-of-state corporations over the tribes in Maine.
Senate Roll Call #793: A NO vote on this roll call was a vote in support of the Wabanaki Alliance position. The amendment would have eliminated exclusive rights for the tribes in Maine to operate on-line sports betting, allowing Off Track Betting (OTB) license holders to receive a license to conduct on-line mobile sports betting. This amendment would have provided access to out-of-state OTBs to dominate the market in Maine and would have potentially minimized the social and economic benefits to the tribes in Maine and Maine as a whole in favor of out-of-state corporations.
LD 906: An Act To Provide Passamaquoddy Tribal Members Access to Clean Drinking Water
LD 906 allows the Passamaquoddy Tribe to access necessary resources to improve drinking water quality at Sipayik, by allowing the Tribe to regulate water quality in partnership with the federal government; exempting the Passamaquoddy Water District from property taxes (like all the other water districts in Maine), and allowing the Tribe to access water through land the Tribe already owns.
Senate Roll Call #749: YES votes were in support of the Passamaquoddy Tribe being able to access and control their own drinking water.
Senate Roll Call #789: A NO vote was not supporting the Passamaquoddy Tribe being able to control their water supply.
House Roll Calls #552, 586 & 587: YES votes were in support of the Passamaquoddy Tribe being able to access and control their own drinking water.
LD 1626: An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act
Sponsor: Assistant House Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross
Learn more: LD 1626 Bill Page
Status: The bill died on the Appropriations Table.
LD 1626 was similar to legislation that was derailed by COVID-19 and Governor Janet Mills in the 129th Legislature. LD 1626 was born out of a legislative initiative that created the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act in 2019. The provisions of LD 1626 would have implemented the consensus recommendations of the Task Force report.
Since originally enacted in 1980, there have been no significant changes to the state or federal settlement acts. LD 1626 would restore parts of sovereignty to the tribes in Maine and place them on similar footing as the other 570 federally recognized tribes across the country. The state and federal settlement acts have undermined the tribes’ abilities to provide services to our people and to create an economy that benefits our communities and our rural neighbors. They have also excluded us from many federal laws intended to benefit tribal nations. A few examples include:
- We have been excluded from the federal Stafford Act, which would allow us to directly access federal disaster assistance funds.
- We have been excluded from portions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which allows tribes to employ medical professionals licensed in other states.
- Indigenous women in Maine had to wait 14 years to be provided the protections of the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA). When the reauthorization occurred in 2013 tribal women in Maine were once again excluded. Finally, the state passed legislation in 2019 mirroring the federal protections. In 2022, when VAWA was reauthorized, the tribes in Maine were included in the federal legislation.
The goal of the state settlement act was to eliminate the existence of a government within a government. However, we are tribal nations and only the federal government can terminate us. And, the federal government refused to do so in 1980. Therefore, we absolutely live in a world of governments within governments, and that will not change anytime soon. The Wabanaki Nations have spent the past 40 years being treated like second-class sovereigns. We have watched out-of-state corporations come in and thrive by doing the very things that we should be able to do but can’t because of the settlement acts. We have watched the other 570 tribal nations across the country fully access the more than 160 federal laws passed since 1980 to benefit tribal governments and their communities. The restrictions on our inherent powers and authorities have caused our communities to be stagnant and struggle to progress.
The provisions of LD 1626 seek to restore to the Wabanaki Nations their inherent powers and authorities to govern their lands and the people on their lands. This includes criminal, civil and regulatory authority. LD 1626 is not a bill about granting special rights to Wabanaki Nations in Maine. It is about restoring rights after time has shown that the restrictions in the 1980 settlement acts have hindered the ability of tribal communities to be self-sufficient. LD 1626 recognizes that modernizing the relationship between the state and tribal governments is in line with the rest of the country, and that the promise of self-determination and self-governance will bring benefits to both tribal and non-tribal communities. LD 1626 is vital to creating vibrant tribal and rural communities in Maine. There is no legislative substitute which compares to the importance of LD 1626. LD 1626 would merely have the tribes in Maine be subject to federal Indian law and not state law like the other 570 federally recognized tribes in 49 other states. This is why LD 1626 votes have greater weight on the legislative scorecard than every other piece of tribal legislation during the 130th Maine legislative session.
LD 1626 was passed in the House with a roll call vote. The Senate unanimously voted in favor of the legislation without a roll call. The legislation was then sent to the Special Appropriations table in The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. There the Committee would have voted and sent it back to the Senate for one final vote for enactment. This did not occur because the Governor said she would veto LD 585, a negotiated bill with the tribes, if LD 1626 reached her desk. LD 585 is not, and will not, ever be a substitute for LD 1626. LD 585 is in state statute and does not change the Settlement Act. This means that the State of Maine maintains their position of authority over the tribes. If LD 585 altered the Settlement Act that would have been historic, but because the legislation is only codified in Maine statute, the importance of the bill is muted considerably.
House Roll Call #566: A YES vote was supportive of the tribes in Maine being treated like the 570 other federally recognized tribes across the country in 49 other states.