IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
March 31, 2011
Mr. Barrasso (for himself, Mr. Akaka, Mr. Thune, Mr. Johnson of South Dakota, Mr. Tester, and Mr. Udall of New Mexico) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs
To amend the Long-Term Leasing Act, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as
Helping Expedite and Advance
Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act of 2011 or the
HEARTH Act of
Approval of, and provisions relating to, tribal leases
(d) of the first section of the Act of August 9, 1955 (25 U.S.C. 415(d))
(commonly known as the
Act), is amended—
in paragraph (4),
the Navajo Nation and inserting
in paragraph (6),
the Navajo Nation and inserting
in paragraph (7),
and after the semicolon at the end;
in paragraph (8)—
the Navajo Nation;
with Navajo Nation law and inserting
tribal law; and
by striking the
period at the end and inserting
; and; and
by adding at the end the following:
the term Indian tribe has the meaning given the term in section 102 of the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (25 U.S.C. 479a).
Tribal approval of leases
The first section of the Act of August 9, 1955 (25
U.S.C. 415) (commonly known as the
Act), is amended by adding at the end the following:
Tribal approval of leases
Subject to paragraph (2) and at the discretion of any Indian tribe, any lease by the Indian tribe for the purposes authorized under subsection (a), except a lease for the exploration, development, or extraction of any mineral resources, shall not require the approval of the Secretary if the lease is executed under the tribal regulations approved by the Secretary under this subsection and the term of the lease does not exceed—
in the case of a business or agricultural lease, 25 years, except that any such lease may include an option to renew for up to 2 additional terms, each of which may not exceed 25 years; and
in the case of a lease for public, religious, educational, recreational, or residential purposes, 75 years, if such a term is provided for by the regulations issued by the Indian tribe.
Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any lease of land (including an interest in land) held in trust for an individual Indian.
Authority of Secretary over tribal regulations
The Secretary shall have the authority to approve or disapprove any tribal regulations issued in accordance with paragraph (1).
Considerations for approval
The Secretary shall approve any tribal regulation issued in accordance with paragraph (1), if the tribal regulations—
are consistent with any regulations issued by the Secretary under subsection (a); and
provide for an environmental review process that includes—
the identification and evaluation of any significant effects of the proposed action on the environment; and
a process for ensuring that—
the public is informed of, and has a reasonable opportunity to comment on, any significant environmental impacts of the proposed action identified by the Indian tribe; and
the Indian tribe provides responses to relevant and substantive public comments on those impacts before the Indian tribe approves the lease.
Not later than 120 days after the date on which the tribal regulations described in paragraph (1) are submitted to the Secretary, the Secretary shall review and approve or disapprove the regulations.
If the Secretary disapproves the tribal regulations described in paragraph (1), the Secretary shall include written documentation with the disapproval notification that describes the basis for the disapproval.
The deadline described in subparagraph (A) may be extended by the Secretary, after consultation with the Indian tribe.
Federal environmental review
Notwithstanding paragraphs (3) and (4), if an Indian tribe carries out a project or activity funded by a Federal agency, the Indian tribe shall have the authority to rely on the environmental review process of the applicable Federal agency rather than any tribal environmental review process under this subsection.
If an Indian tribe executes a lease pursuant to tribal regulations under paragraph (1), the Indian tribe shall provide the Secretary with—
a copy of the lease, including any amendments or renewals to the lease; and
in the case of tribal regulations or a lease that allows for lease payments to be made directly to the Indian tribe, documentation of the lease payments that are sufficient to enable the Secretary to discharge the trust responsibility of the United States under paragraph (7).
The United States shall not be liable for losses sustained by any party to a lease executed pursuant to tribal regulations under paragraph (1).
Authority of Secretary
Pursuant to the authority of the Secretary to fulfill the trust obligation of the United States to the applicable Indian tribe under Federal law (including regulations), the Secretary may, upon reasonable notice from the applicable Indian tribe and at the discretion of the Secretary, enforce the provisions of, or cancel, any lease executed by the Indian tribe under paragraph (1).
An interested party, after exhausting of any applicable tribal remedies, may submit a petition to the Secretary, at such time and in such form as the Secretary determines to be appropriate, to review the compliance of the applicable Indian tribe with any tribal regulations approved by the Secretary under this subsection.
If, after carrying out a review under subparagraph (A), the Secretary determines that the tribal regulations were violated, the Secretary may take any action the Secretary determines to be necessary to remedy the violation, including rescinding the approval of the tribal regulations and reassuming responsibility for the approval of leases of tribal trust lands.
If the Secretary determines that a violation of the tribal regulations has occurred and a remedy is necessary, the Secretary shall—
make a written determination with respect to the regulations that have been violated;
provide the applicable Indian tribe with a written notice of the alleged violation together with such written determination; and
prior to the exercise of any remedy, the rescission of the approval of the regulation involved, or the reassumption of lease approval responsibilities, provide the applicable Indian tribe with—
a hearing that is on the record; and
a reasonable opportunity to cure the alleged violation.
Nothing in this subsection shall affect subsection (e) or any tribal regulations issued under that subsection.
Land title reports
Not later than 180 days after the date on which funds are first made available to carry out this Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs shall prepare and submit to the Committees on Financial Services and Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and Indian Affairs of the Senate a report regarding the history and experience of Indian tribes that have chosen to assume responsibility for operating the Indian Land Title and Records Office (referred to in this subsection as the LTRO) functions from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In conducting the review under paragraph (1), the Bureau of Indian Affairs shall consult with the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Native American Programs and the Indian tribes that are managing LTRO functions (referred to in this subsection as the managing Indian tribes).
The review under paragraph (1) shall include an analysis of the following factors:
Whether and how tribal management of the LTRO functions has expedited the processing and issuance of Indian land title certifications as compared to the period during which the Bureau of Indian Affairs managed the programs.
Whether and how tribal management of the LTRO functions has increased home ownership among the population of the managing Indian tribe.
What internal preparations and processes were required of the managing Indian tribes prior to assuming management of the LTRO functions.
Whether tribal management of the LTRO functions resulted in a transfer of financial resources and manpower from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the managing Indian tribes and, if so, what transfers were undertaken.
Whether, in appropriate circumstances and with the approval of geographically proximate Indian tribes, the LTRO functions may be performed by a single Indian tribe or a tribal consortium in a cost effective manner.