Governor issues proclamation allowing Snoqualmie Tribe to use fuel sales proceeds for COVID-19 response and recovery

On May 28th, Governor Inslee announced a proclamation that suspends all provisions in agreements between the state and Washington Indian tribes restricting the use of fuel tax refund monies to highway or transportation related purposes.

The proclamation is effective immediately and expires on June 27, 2020.

“Tribes in Washington are a significant contributor to the economic vitality of the state, and this action provides tribal governments needed flexibility to provide increased COVID-19 response and recovery for their members and surrounding communities,” Inslee said.

See the proclamation HERE.

Immediately following the proclamation announcement the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe was celebrating, saying it formalizes the state’s “support for a Snoqualmie proposal to allow Tribes increased flexibility to utilize proceeds from fuel sales to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The proclamation allows sovereign tribes to utilize their portion of proceeds from fuel sales to fund COVID response and mitigation efforts. 

“It’s important in times like these that governments work in cooperation to find solutions to serve our communities,” said Snoqualmie Chairman Robert de los Angeles. “We’re seeing that here with the governor supporting our request so that we may continue to serve our community without any cost to the state or its taxpayers.”

According to a Snoqualmie Tribe news release, sales of fuel by federally recognized Tribes in Washington State are governed by negotiated agreements with the State called compacts, which direct a portion of proceeds to the state and places a number of limitations on how the Tribes can spend their share their revenue.

The Snoqualmie Tribe requested that the Governor consider removing those limitations during the COVID-19 crisis and recognize Tribes’ right to spend those proceeds on virus-related expenses.

The Snoqualmie Tribe felt this was a request consistent with the spirit of compact language, which explicitly mentions “public safety” as an allowed use for fuel proceeds.  

“This proclamation will mean major fiscal relief and increased resources for COVID response for our Tribe, and dozens of other Tribes,” said Snoqualmie Treasurer Christopher Castleberry. “It is also one more successful collaboration with the Inslee Administration, which has worked closely with our Tribe on improving the safety of SR-18, regulating mining of our state’s rivers, and reforming property tax policy.”

Snoqualmie Tribal Council left to right: Marilee Mai, Danniel Willoughby, Chief Andy de los Angeles, Wes Willoughby, Robert de los Angeles (Chair), Steve de los Angeles (Deputy Secretary), Suzanne Sailto, Jolene Williams, Kanium Ventura, Christopher Castleberry (Treasurer), Melynda Digre (Secretary), Michael Ross (Vice Chair) PC: Snoqualmie Tribe

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