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Dec. 10, 2022

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Washington congressional delegation supports bill to expand Chehalis Tribe’s leasing authority

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U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Tacoma, has asked the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples to approve her bill granting expanded leasing authority to the Chehalis Tribe.

“My bill is simple. It will amend the long-term leasing act to give the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation leasing authority for up to 99 years. This will allow the tribe greater access to economic opportunity and strengthen their sovereignty,” she told the subcommittee last week….

“With a number of enterprises, the Chehalis are a strong community, but a 1955 law stands in the way of expanding economic development.”

According to Strickland, the long-term leasing act of 1955 provides tribes with the authority to enter into lease agreement terms of up to 25 years with an additional renewal of 25 years subject to the Interior Secretary’s approval. Since the law’s enactment, however, the act has been amended by Congress to give nearly 60 tribes extended leasing authority.

Strickland said the Chehalis Tribe has trust land off Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 12 that could be used for warehouse structures and other investments that could strengthen the supply chain. However, the tribe must be able to provide leases of up to 99 years to potential investors for such large-scale projects.

Strickland’s bill, H.R. 6964, was originally co-sponsored by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and has gained the support of the entire Washington state Congressional delegation. Sen. Maria Cantwell has introduced a companion bill in the Senate co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray.

“I whole-heartedly support the Chehalis Tribe’s commitment to spurring economic development in our region,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement. “It’s an honor to help advance this legislation through Congress that gives the Tribe long-term certainty with the goal of increased job opportunities for folks in Southwest Washington.”

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