Navajo lawmakers to determine funding for April 21 special election

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FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Council will convene in a special session today in the Council Chamber in Window Rock, Ariz.

The proposed agenda was released Wednesday but is not final until it is adopted by a majority vote of the council.

Navajo lawmakers could approve a bill calling for $317,891 in supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to be issued to the Navajo Election Administration.

The amount would be used by the election administration to pay for salary costs, travel expenses, supplies, office space and equipment rentals, and advertisement for the April 21 special election.

The election administration set the election date after the Navajo Nation Supreme Court ordered the election for the presidency be held between candidates Joe Shirley Jr. and Russell Begaye.

The high court also ruled that the six vacancies on the Navajo Board of Election Supervisors be held in conjunction with the presidential election.

As with any appropriation, the resolution containing the funding request would have to be submitted to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly for review.

After it is submitted to Shelly’s office, he has 10 days to sign it, veto it or use his line-item veto authority.

The council could also decide to fund the legislative district assistants program.

In order to fund the program, the legislative branch’s Office of Legislative Services is requesting an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 general fund budget for $1.5 million.

The requested funding would be used for salaries and benefits for 24 assistants until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

The previous council started the program, which allowed each delegate to hire one assistant to help with the increased workload delegates were experiencing as an effect of reducing the council membership from 88 to 24.

Funding for the program was eliminated from the fiscal year 2015 comprehensive budget by a line-item veto by Shelly.

In September, the president used his line-item veto authority to eliminate $1.7 million to pay for the program.

The council could also confirm the nominees to the Eastern Navajo Land Commission.

Speaker LoRenzo Bates has nominated delegates Jonathan Perry, Leonard Tsosie, Edmund Yazzie, Seth Damon and Norman M. Begay to serve on the commission, according to the bill.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.

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