Gaming compact passes first of several hurdles despite concerns

ALBUQUERQUE

After hearing from tribal leaders, barraging the state attorney with questions and voting on several recommended changes last Saturday, a New Mexico interim legislative committee voted 15 to 1 in favor of the 2015 joint Indian gaming compact as written.

The Committee on Compacts is one of the first hurdles the compact has to pass through successfully before the session ends March 21, in order for it to move forward for approval by the U.S. Department of Interior by June 30.

Next, the compact is expected to be heard in various committees before being presented on the senate and house floors for up or down votes.

The newly designed compact is the result of negotiations between New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, led by her deputy chief of staff Jessica Hernandez, and five tribes — the Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation, Mescalero Apache Nation, Pueblo of Acoma and Pueblo of Jemez — whose gaming compacts with the state end June 30.

Under law, the Committee on Compacts is limited to recommending changes in the compact language.

During Saturday’s committee meeting that ran from mid-morning to the early evening, members requested the committee as a whole to consider six modifications to the proposed compact, all of which failed.


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