Stevens sets conditions for enforcement money

Posted: Monday, September 22, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Sen. Ted Stevens wants the state to maintain current funding levels for village law enforcement.

To do that, he's established the state funding levels as a condition of receiving federal money that has thus far gone to Alaska Native tribal courts and police.

Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said he will add the minimum state funding requirement to a provision he has already tacked onto an annual spending bill for several federal departments. That provision would stop several million dollars in funding for tribes and give it to the state instead.

Stevens said he added the provision to divert the tribal funds because the federal government can't afford to set up police and courts in 229 villages and because tribes are using the money to overstep their authority.

Tribal law advocates say the system is efficient and Stevens inaccurately characterizes tribal jurisdiction.

Under Stevens' plan, the state would use the money to add village public safety officers and establish state court magistrates in more villages. He has said he doesn't want the state just using the money to replace what it's already spending.

"We're going to add, at the request of some of the tribal organizations, a provision that the state cannot use this to replace the funds it's currently providing to some of the villages," he said. "It must be deemed as a supplement and it cannot be spent unless they spend their money."

Stevens' effort to cut off tribal court and police grants follows a similar trimming of general tribal funds he instituted two years ago.

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