Tribal court recognition bill returns to House with minor amendment

A bill extending full faith and credit to certain tribal court orders in Indiana is one step closer to the governor’s desk after the Senate this week gave its unanimous endorsement to the legislation. The bill now heads back to the House to consider an amendment that the bill’s author has already said he supports.

House Bill 1441 passed the Senate with a 49-0 vote Tuesday, continuing a streak of unanimous support in the General Assembly. The bill would require Indiana state courts to recognize orders from the tribal courts of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and vice versa.

The bill’s author, Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis, first introduced the legislation during the 2020 legislative session, but his bill was ultimately sent to the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary for further review. The study committee endorsed the concept last fall, and DeLaney reintroduced the legislation in the 2021 session.

The bill has been amended only once, on the Senate floor Monday.

Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, introduced an amendment to explicitly require the Pokagon Band to pay any filing or other court fees associated with recognition of a tribal court order in state court. Koch first raised the concept of his amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where DeLaney said he supported it.

The amendment prevailed on a voice vote on the Senate floor

HB 1441 now heads back to the House, where DeLaney can either concur with the amended bill or dissent. If the former, the full House will take a final vote on the measure before sending it to the governor. If the latter, the bill will be sent to a conference committee.

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