May 2, 2022

Governor Janet Mills was pleased to sign LD 585, An Act To Enhance Tribal-State Collaboration, To Revise the Tax Laws Concerning the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation and To Authorize today. Casinos, Off-track Betting Facilities, Federally Recognized Indian Tribes and certain commercial venues for conducting sports betting.

“This law provides significant economic opportunities for the Wabanaki Nations. It encourages investment in tribal communities and formalizes a collaborative process on policy that lays the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I am proud of the work that the Wabanaki Nations and the State have put into drafting this bill, and I am grateful for the honest effort, the extensive research, and the hundreds of hours of negotiation and discussion that have paid off in this bill. We will continue to work closely with the tribes to advance the Wabanaki people. »

LD 585 is the result of months of negotiation between the Wabanaki Nations and the Mills administration that makes Maine one of the few states to enshrine in law a formal state-tribal collaborative process for policy development; it offers significant tax breaks to tribal members and tribal businesses; and it gives tribes the opportunity to benefit from online sports betting, providing tribes with a meaningful way to participate in the gambling industry in Maine from which they have historically been excluded. The legislation is the most significant tribal legislation enacted in Maine in more than 40 years, addressing economic and financial issues, while making institutional changes in how the state government interacts with the Wabanaki Nations.

LD 585 builds on progress made by the Mills administration, the Wabanaki people, and the state legislature, including:

  • the signing of LD 906, which allows the Passamaquoddy Tribe to search for alternative sources of groundwater in Passamaquoddy Indian Territory without state approval;
  • negotiate and enact legislation to amend the Establishment Act to expand the power of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy to prosecute domestic violence against non-tribal members in tribal courts;
  • draft and enact legislation that implements the nation’s highest water quality standards to protect subsistence fishing in culturally significant tribal waters;
  • draft and enact legislation that transfers ownership of culturally significant lands in Meddybemps from state ownership to the Passamaquoddy Tribe;
  • granting a full posthumous pardon, believed to be the first in Maine history, to Don Gellers, who was a former Passamaquoddy tribal attorney and attorney;
  • seek and enact legislation banning the use of Native American mascots, which are both offensive and culturally insensitive to Wabanaki peoples, in schools in Maine – the first state in the nation to do so;
  • the enactment of legislation replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in Maine;
  • signing legislation establishing a Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Native, and Tribal Peoples of Maine to promote, implement, and coordinate programs that create and enhance opportunities for historically disadvantaged racial, Native, and Tribal people in Maine – and dedicate $50,000 from Governor Compte’s contingent to begin his work;
  • the enactment of a bill that creates a process to review all laws for potential impacts on historically disadvantaged populations; and
  • appoint tribal members to boards and commissions such as the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and the University of Maine Board of Trustees to improve tribal representation.