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WASHINGTON – In an attempt to stop two bills authorizing Indian casinos near Detroit, Rep. John Conyers claimed his House Judiciary Committee had partial jurisdiction and convened committee members to vote on the measures. The Port Huron bill was defeated 29-0, and the Romulus bill was defeated 27-0.
The committee action follows overwhelming approval by the Natural Resources Committee, which has traditional jurisdiction over Indian casinos.
This leaves it to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decide which bill takes precedence. If she decides the Natural Resources Committee has primary jurisdiction, the bill will proceed towards a vote by the full House.
The bills are intended to settle longstanding land claims near Charlotte Beach in Michigan's Upper Peninsula by the Sault Ste. Marie of Chippewa tribe and the Bay Mills Indian Community. In 2002 former Gov. John Engler agreed to compensate the tribes with land in Romulus and Port Huron, respectively. The current Gov. Jennifer Granholm supports this agreementl. However, only Congress can settle these land disputes by approving the deal.
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