Governor signs tribal retrocession bill into law

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a bill that opens the door for dismantling state jurisdiction over American Indian tribes.

Signed into law Monday, the measure creates a procedure for a tribe to ask the state to cede its jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters to the federal government and the tribes themselves.

Washington state in 1963 assumed jurisdiction over matters including juvenile delinquency, truancy, mental illness, adoption proceedings and motor vehicle traffic on tribal lands.

Taking effect in June, the law requires both the governor and the federal Department of Interior to agree to the state ceding its authority. That is done in consultation with state and local elected leaders.

The state will retain the ability to civilly commit those it deems to be sexually violent predators.

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