A Busy Month for Band Assembly


The Mille Lacs Band Assembly has remained active during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of routine business but also moving ahead with a variety of new initiatives.

On August 3, the Legislative Branch hosted the third in a series of historical presentations for staff by Don Wedll, a former commissioner and advisor for the Band. In attendance were Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Boyd, District I Representative Sandra Blake, District II Representative Marvin Bruneau, District III Representative Wallace E. St. John Sr., and Legislative and Executive staff.

On August 5, Band Assembly approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the Health and Human Services Department and Aanjibimaadizing for the transfer of the Wrap- around Program staff and services. (For more on the change, click here.)

On August 6, Legislative held a work session for the Band Assembly members, Legal Counsel, the Child Support Director, an Attorney from the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Commissioner of Administration on Title 8, Chapter 12 (Child Support). The session was held to discuss the red-line version of the Revised Child Support Statute, a memo from the Chief Justice, and comments received from the public.

Participants discussed the process of revising and approval needed from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, as this is a grant-funded program. The attendees went through the red-line version of the statute line-by-line and discussed each item and whether to approve, deny, or revise the change.

On August 7, Elected Officials and Legislative and Executive staff attended a codification conference call and Zoom meeting with the State Revisor’s Office. The discussion began with the history of the Band’s Legislative Branch, followed by discussion of the current process of approving ordinances and bills, and the differences between Mille Lacs Band Titles, Commissioner Orders, Secretarial Orders, Executive Orders, and Solicitor Opinions.

State Revisor’s Office staff members Sandy Glass and Mary
Novack shared the process the state uses to publish statutes and rules, including quality control, communications, software, and hardware. The Revisor’s Office is involved from the begin- ning to the end of the Legislative process.

On August 12, Band Assembly approved the nomination of Elmer Nayquonabe to serve as the District I Justice of the Court of Appeals, pursuant to 5 MLBSA § 5.b. His term expired on August 15, 2020, and his next term will expire August 15, 2026.

A nomination from Chief Executive Benjamin for Syngen Kanassatega to serve as the District Court Judge, pursuant to 5 MLBSA § 7(a), was removed from the agenda. A motion was made to add a verbal nomination from Chief Executive Benjamin for David Christensen to serve as District Court Judge. Band Assembly took action to expedite the process for court continuity. Judge Christensen gave a brief statement about the court’s success and challenges, and he declined the nomina- tion. A roll call vote was requested, and the nomination failed. The nominee was uninterested in serving.

Representative Sandra Blake convened her first Child Protection Subcommittee. Topics included subcommittee ground rules, the legislative process, and expectations. One member of the subcommittee proposed introducing a bill that would require Family Services to publish policies within 90 days. Rep- resentative Blake also distributed revised versions of subchap- ters 1 and 2 of the Child Protection Code, asking subcommittee members to review the drafts before the next meeting. Sub- committee members were advised to be well prepared for each meeting and to provide comments on the revised subchapters.

Band Assembly also discussed a draft of Legislative Order 30-20: A Legislative Order Establishing Band Assembly Agenda and Live-Streaming Procedures.

On Wednesday, August 5, through conference call and Zoom, representatives approved Band Assembly Bill 19-02-52-20 A Bill of Supplemental Appropriations and Budget Transfer for the Education, and Health & Human Services Departments for the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 2020. The bill was read and introduced by District III Representative Wally St. John.

On Tuesday, August 11, Band Assembly received a nomination from Chief Executive Benjamin for Carole Higgins to serve as the District III Justice of the Court of Appeals, pursuant to 5 MLBSA § 5.b. The item was tabled with a request for a confirmation hearing.

On Thursday, August 13, Legislative held a work session for the Band Assembly members, Legislative Counsel, Staff Attorney, and the Commissioner of Finance. The work session included a presentation on a proposed Title 18 Department of Commerce presentation by Syngen Kanassatega, Legal and Policy Counsel.

Band Assembly discussed Legislative Order 29-20 A Legislative Order Authorizing Electronic and Stamped Signatures. Members discussed the scenarios where this order would be required, who would have authority to use the stamps, how the stamps would be safeguarded, and how the digital signature would be processed. All questions were answered, and the order will move forward to the agenda with minor changes.