State Senate passes bill for tribal retrocession process

YAKIMA — The Washington state Senate has passed a bill that opens the door for dismantling state jurisdiction over American Indian tribes.

The bill creates a retrocession procedure by which a tribe can ask the state to return its jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters to the federal government and the tribes themselves.

The Senate approved the amended bill, HB 2233, on a 42-6 vote.

Washington state assumed jurisdiction in 1963 over such matters as juvenile delinquency, truancy, mental illness and adoption proceedings.

Some have expressed concerns that restoring full sovereignty to tribes over their members might subject outsiders to unfair treatment in tribal courts. But senators rejected an amendment that would have allowed non-Indians who appear in tribal courts to appeal those decisions to state courts.

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