March 30, 2009
EL PASO - The Tiqua tribe want Austin lawmakers to reopen their Speaking Rock Casino. The Speaking Rock Casino employed 800 people while it was open from 1993-2002. The state shut down the casinos in 2002.
Democratic Rep. Norma Chavez is sponsoring a bill in this Legislative session that would provide a defense to prosecution for Texas Indian casinos run by the Tiguas and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston.
The bill HB 1308 is currently moving through the Texas House.
"The defense to prosecution bill is moving forward with the complete recognition from me and the tribe that Gov. Perry will most likely veto it. We believe that the only option we're going to have this session is to take a bill directly to the voters," said Chavez.
Therefore a new, more focused strategy is centered on language to amend the state constitution and authorize gambling in Texas. The language would clarify that Texas law "does not prohibit [federally recognized tribes] from conducting gaming on land in this state that is held in trust or recognized as tribal land by the United States… Such tribes or tribal organizations are authorized to conduct gaming on such lands."
If successful, a constitutional amendment could be put to voters this November.
"We had a very productive meeting regarding gaming language for any constitutional amendment or enabling legislation that will include the Ysleta del sur Pueblo, Alabama Coushatta and the already gaming Kickapoo.
The three tribes met in (Licensing Committee) Chairman (Ed) Kuempel's office and the Chairman directed us to come up with agreed upon language.
After having two meetings on Tuesday, we were able to come to a consensus," said Chavez.
The new language agreed upon at a meeting is designed as an article that could be slid into any omnibus bill.
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