A bill backed by the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians and designed to stop the North Fork Mono Indians from building a casino on land the tribe has in federal trust near Madera, California, was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 27.
H.R. 5079, the California Compact Protection Act, is a bill that would amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to require the approval process for off-reservation gaming in California adhere to state law. It states that a tribal gaming compact that has not been ratified by the state Legislature or has been rejected by state voters cannot be approved by the Department of the Interior.
The bill is sponsored by Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, along with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors including Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., Jeff Denham, R-Calif. and Paul Cook, R-Calif, who sit with LaMalfa on the on the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs for the House Committee on Natural Resources. Another co-sponsor was Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, according to Law360. The bill is in reaction to federal court decisions in California, and specifically targets the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians’ proposed casino near Madera and the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians’ Fire Mountain Casino proposal near Yuba City. Both tribes’ proposals are being considered for approval by the federal Department of the Interior.
In February, California was ordered by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley to negotiate a new gaming compact within 60 days with the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of the Enterprise Rancheria. Judge Nunley said that when the state allowed the tribe’s original deal to expire without a vote in the state Legislature, it had not shown that it acted in good faith. California was ordered by U.S. Senior District Judge Anthony W. Ishii in November to reach a gaming compact with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, even though Proposition 48 rejected the North Fork compact in 2014 by 61 percent of California voters, saying the state had not negotiated in good faith under the Indian gaming Regulatory Act in its refusal to discuss the specific casino site plans of the tribe.
The court decisions are unfair, according to LaMalfa, as they allow the advancement of those two specific proposals in question under “far less rigorous standards” those other tribes are held to. Under federal law, regardless of state approval, both tribes are still able to seek approval from the federal government.
Along with partner, Station Casinos, the North Fork Rancheria want to build a gaming facility similar to Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coarsegold on 305 acres along Highway 99 just north of Madera.