From Enterprise Staff
State Rep. Mary Gonzalez of El Paso filed legislation this week proposing a state constitutional amendment requiring the governor to enter into gaming compacts with the three federally recognized tribes in the state.
The proposed amendment in Gonzalez’s bill – HJR 156 – would have to be approved by two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate and then approved by a majority of voters to take effect. It would allow the tribes to sue the state if the governor fails to negotiate in good faith.
Currently, the three federally recognized tribes – the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas in Polk County, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas near the Texas-Mexico border, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo near El Paso – offer electronic bingo at gaming facilities on their reservations in compliance with federal regulations related to tribal gaming. The state gaming compact would ensure consistency in how the tribes are treated by the state with regard to Class III gaming activities.
“These indigenous communities are very important to the life and culture of our state and to the economic success of their regions,” Gonzalez said. “It’s important that we treat these communities with fairness and respect as they go about the work of providing for themselves. Amid all the speculation about more gaming coming to Texas, we must remember and respect the Texans who are already engaged in lawful gaming to sustain their communities.”
Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council Chairman Ricky Sylestine added, “We are grateful for the leadership of Rep. Gonzalez. Her proposal would help ensure that we would be treated with the fairness and equality that we have long sought so that we can continue to provide for our tribal citizens and invest in the Deep East Texas economy.”