Fri May 16th, 2014
The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council continues its work to review, revise and update the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Code. The Tribal Code is Tribal law and applies across the Reservation to anyone within the Tribe’s jurisdiction. Currently, the Tribal Code contains over twenty different titles, covering everything from basic civil procedure to traffic offenses, wildlife violations, crimes, and severance taxes.
Over the course of the past year or so, the Tribal Council has prioritized the titles of the Code and the new issues on which the Council wanted work to be done. The Tribal Council also adopted a standard process for code drafting and revision projects. This process includes the appointment of a committee to work on the particular project and then bring recommendations back to the Tribal Council. After the Council has reviewed that information, the draft code is then provided to the Tribal membership and others for review and comment. After compiling comments on the Code, a final version is prepared for Tribal Council’s review. If the Tribal Council approves the revised or new section of the Code, then the revised or new section is added to the codebook after approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where that approval is required.
The Tribal Council recently relied on its new process to adopt three new sections of the Tribal Code. First, after years of work prompted by the federal Adam Walsh Act, the Tribal Council adopted a final Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act or SORNA. That law requires that anyone subject to the Tribe’s jurisdiction who has also been convicted of certain sexual offenses must register with the Tribe as a sex offender. The Tribe also works with La Plata County to coordinate registrations and consolidate registration information shown on the internet. (see http://co.laplata.co.us/departments_and_elected_officials/sheriff/registered_sex_offenders).
The Tribal Council also recently adopted new workers compensation and administrative appeals and hearing office codes. These codes primarily apply to the employees of the Tribe working on the reservation and establish more efficient and comprehendible procedures for workers compensation claims and administrative appeals of decisions made by the Tribe. For example, under the new administrative appeals code, a professional hearing officer will be able to review appeals of decisions made in tribal administrative procedures, such as employment grievances or wildlife code citations. These new laws will take effect on October 1, 2014, in order to allow time to implement the structures necessary to successfully support the new provisions.
The Tribal Council is also continuing to review new code projects and recently authorized the distribution of a revised Traffic Code for review and comment. Notice of the draft Traffic Code appears elsewhere in this issue of the Drum and the draft is available for comment until the end of May 2014. (You can access the draft Traffic Code for review at http://www.southernute-nsn.gov/news/ if you scroll down a bit).
The Tribal Council has a number of other code projects lined up for future consideration as well, including revisions to the Tribe’s Land Code, Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes, Election Code, and others. The Tribal Council may also consider putting the updated Tribal Code online for ease of availability in the near future. For the time being, however, copies of the Code are available from the Tribe’s Department of Tribal Information Services, which can be reached at (970) 563-0100, ext. 2208 or via their website at http://www.southernute-nsn.gov/tis/.
Despite all of the other priorities on the Tribal Council’s plate, the Council’s efforts to work on new and revised legislation shows that the Council remains committed to enacting and updating the Tribe’s laws to ensure the protection, health, safety, and welfare of the Tribe’s members and others on the reservation.