News Coverage of BMIC/Sault Tribe Off-Rez Gaming Bills

From the Detroit Free Press:

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee is set to work on a couple of bills on Wednesday that would allow for two new Indian casinos in Michigan – even though another committee has already approved them.

It could set up an interesting jurisdictional question for the House.
A couple months ago, the Natural Resources Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the two pieces of legislation, which would authorize land swaps with two tribes, resulting in new casinos in Romulus and Port Huron. That vote was expected to send the bills to the House floor.

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Clash of Titans over Off-Rez Gaming in Michigan: Dingell v. Conyers!

From The Hill:

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is clashing with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) over the thorny issue of Indian gambling, setting up a standoff between two of the oldest bulls in Congress.

Conyers has stepped into an Indian gambling dispute that is dividing the Michigan delegation and the Democratic Caucus. After teaming up with Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the 22-term House veteran has used his position as chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee to oppose two bills that would settle tribal land disputes and clear the way for new casinos to be built near both lawmakers’ Detroit-area districts.

Conyers argues that the bills would change the way casinos are approved by allowing Congress to get involved in land dispute claims that the U.S. Department of the Interior routinely determines. He also cites the concern that the casinos would be located more than 350 miles from the tribes’ reservations.

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House Judiciary Committee Hearing re: BMIC & Sault Tribe Bills — Witness List and Testimony

From the House Judiciary Committee website:

The Honorable Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
U.S. House of Representatives
Michigan, 13th District

Chief Fred Cantu
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan

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House Hearing on Bay Mills/Sault Tribe Off-Rez Gaming

From Indianz:

Not sure what it means below that Alicia Walker is chair at Sault Tribe….

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing this morning on two off-reservation casino bills.

H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115 settle land claims for the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The tribes would be able to open casinos on sites hundreds of miles away from their existing reservations. The bills have been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. But Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), the chairman of the Judiciary committee, opposes the measures. The hearing takes place at 10am and will be broadcast at

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Jeff Parker in Business Week re: Metro Detroit Casino Proposals

From Business Week:

MGM Mirage’s Hidden Card

The flyers mailed to homes across Michigan in late January looked like the handiwork of a group bitterly opposed to gambling. They pictured dice emblazoned with exclamation marks, piles of crumpled-up cash, and text blaring: “Washington Poised to Force Two New Casinos on Michigan Families. Only You Can Stop the Special Interests.” The outfit behind this grassroots campaign calls itself Gambling Watch.

As it turns out, Gambling Watch is a tiny operation financed by MGM Mirage (MGM), one of the world’s largest gaming companies. MGM is locked in a bitter dispute with two Native American tribes that hope to open casinos in Michigan. The Las Vegas company inaugurated a new $800 million casino in downtown Detroit in October and is not in the mood for competition. There’s nothing underhanded about its tactics, MGM says. “We’ve made no secret of where we are on this,” says Alan Feldman, senior vice-president for public affairs at MGM Mirage.

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Off-Reservation Casino Bills Inspire Big Fight — Bay Mills & Sault Tribe

From Indianz:

Disgraced Republican lobbyists Jack Abramoff is in prison but his name is being thrown around a lot as the House considers legislation to authorize two off-reservation casinos.

Abramoff lobbied against casinos sought by tribes in Louisiana and Michigan. One of his former clients was the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, which spent $14 million in hopes of defeating rival gaming projects. The Saginaw Chippewas dumped Abramoff but the tribe is opposing legislation to allow the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to open casinos hundreds of miles from existing reservation. Other opponents include members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Las Vegas gaming interests. “I’m somewhat optimistic that we can get this through Congress, which is not to say it isn’t going to be a battle,” Bay Mills Chairman Jeff Parker told The Port Huron Times Herald. “Those opposed to this for financial reasons will continue to throw money at it.”

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Freep Opposes Bay Mills and Sault Tribe Bills

From the Detroit Free Press:

Say no to a bad precedent on casinos

Among John Engler’s last acts as governor of Michigan — on Dec. 30, 2002, to be precise — was approving a land claim settlement with two Upper Peninsula Indian tribes that gave them rights to property for two separate casinos in southeast Michigan. The settlement was long overdue, but the terms Engler allowed were way too generous to the tribes.

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Granholm Amendment to Bay Mills Charlotte Beach Settlement

As reported earlier, here is the amendment to the Bay Mills Indian Community settlement agreement executed last November.

Bay Mills Indian Community 2002 Settlement

Bay Mills Indian Community 2007 Settlement Amendment

Written Testimony from House Resources Hearing re: Off-Rez Gaming

Carl Artman–Dept. of Interior

 Jeff Parker–Bay Mills Indian Community

Aaron Payment–Sault Tribe

Alan Lambert–Romulus

Karl Tomion–Port Huron

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Abramoff-Style Media Assault on Port Huron/Flint/Romulus Deal

From the Port Huron Times Herald:

Casino foes launch blitzes in Detroit, D.C.

A media blitz aimed at rallying opposition to proposed casinos in Port Huron and Romulus is being orchestrated by a public-relations consultant who has worked for some of the biggest names in Democratic politics.

Peter Ragone III confirmed he is president of the newly created Americans for Gaming Reform Inc., which has launched a radio campaign in Detroit and bought a full-page ad Tuesday in Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

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