February 5, 2016

Senate bills recognize Tribe as municpality


LANSING — A package of bills passed by the Michigan Senate in August to allow the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe to contract for the purchase of raw water in a manner similar to municipalities has been forwarded to Governor Granholm.

The bills (SB’s 674-679), sponsored by Sen. James Barcia (D – Bay City) and Sen. Alan Cropsey (R – DeWitt) recently cleared the State House of Representatives.

The Tribe, which currently trucks in 10,000 gallons of water from Omer daily to its Standish Township casino, was informed that it was not viewed as a municipality under existing state laws prior to the passage of the aforementioned bills, which prohibited the Tribe from connecting to the raw water line of the Saginaw-Midland Municipal Water Supply Corporation. This has limited expansions proposed for the Saganing Reservation.

“Arenac County has been hard hit by the struggling economy and the closing of Standish Max Prison,” Sen. Barcia said. “These bills will make it easier to create up to 300 jobs in the area. Without this change in state law, it would have been cost prohibitive to continue with the developments as originally planned.”

SB’s 674-679 provide no advantage of one tribe over another and do not mandate any treatment other than what other units of government are afforded under the law.

Difficulties in running water and sewer utilities to Tribal land has delayed a hotel project planned by the Tribe’s economic development, the Migizi Group, for 2009.

Check for updates this week.

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