Program extension proposed for Commission on Indian Affairs

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Feb. 20 on a bill that would authorize the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs to spend designated funds in fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Currently, a political subdivision may grant funds to an area within 30 miles of a tribal government. LB504, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash, would expand the area restriction to 60 miles.

Education would be categorized as a qualifying expenditure, in addition to the existing qualified expenditures: economic development, health care and law enforcement.

Coash said that low demand has resulted in over $22,000 in unused funds.

“Currently only one group qualifies and they’ve said they’re not interested,” he said. “This will allow us to let more communities apply for the funds and do some good.”

Judy gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, supported the bill, saying it would allow the commission to further its goal of helping children stay out of trouble.

“This would allow us to have more latitude in utilizing the remaining funds,” gaiashkibos said. “We could begin to level the playing field for our kids at high risk.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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