LEGISLATIVE ACT NO. 10-98
AN ACT CREATING A CONSTITUTION CONVENTION COMMISSION
BE IT ENACTED BY THE CHEROKEE NATION:
This ACT is adopted for the purpose of establishing a Constitution Convention Commission. The Commission shall oversee the conduct of a constitutional convention as called for by a vote of the Cherokee people in the 1995 election.
This is enacted pursuant to Article 15, Section 9, of the Constitution for the Cherokee Nation approved by referendum on June 26, 1976, "The question of such proposed convention shall be submitted to the members of the Cherokee Nation at least once in every twenty (20) years."
§3. Definitions: For purposes of this Title, the following terms shall be defined as follows:
1. Council. "Council" means the Cherokee Nation Council
2. Council Member. "Council Member" means a member of the Cherokee Nation Council
3. Principal Chief. "Principal Chief" means the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
4. Deputy Principal Chief. "Deputy Principal Chief" means the Deputy Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation who serves as President of the Council.
5. Judicial Appeals Tribunal. "Judicial Appeals Tribunal" means the Judicial Appeals Tribunal of the Cherokee Nation.
6. Constitution Commission. "Constitution Commission" means the Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention Commission established pursuant to this statute.
7. Member of the Cherokee Nation. "Member of the Cherokee Nation" means a person enrolled as a member of the Cherokee Nation pursuant to 11 C.N.C.A., Section 4 (J), derived only through proof of Cherokee blood based on the final rolls.
8. Campaign. "Campaign" means and includes all activities for or against the election of a candidate to a specific office within the Cherokee Nation by a Constitution Convention commissioner during his or her appointed term.
§4. Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention Commission:
A. Constitution Convention Commission: Establishment and Appointment: The Commission shall be called the Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention Commission. The Constitution Convention Commission shall be composed of two appointees of each branch of the tribal government; two (2) from the Executive, the Chief and Deputy Chief concurring; two (2) from the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, unanimous approval by all-three required; and two (2) from the Tribal Council, two-thirds vote of approval required. The six (6) appointed members shall select a seventh (7) member. The Constitution Convention Commission shall have the sole responsibility and explicit authority for the conduct of the Constitution Convention, including activities described in Subsection (D) of this Section, and shall be an independent commission in the performance of its statutory authority. In the performance of that authority it shall not be subject to direction or supervision by the Executive, Legislative or Judicial Branch of the Cherokee Nation government.
B. Term: The Constitution Convention Commission shall be appointed and take their oath of office when practical. Each Commission member shall serve a term commencing with the day of appointment, and ending six (6) months after the election on proposed amendments, alterations, revisions or a new constitution, or at the discretion of the Commission. In case of vacancy on the Commission, the Commission shall make a new appointment. A person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Constitution Convention Commission shall serve the remaining term of the vacant position.
C. Qualifications: The Commissioners shall be citizens of the Cherokee Nation of high stature with excellent reputation, and have ability to comprehend basic legal issues. Elected or appointed officials of the Cherokee Nation are specifically disqualified from serving on the Commission or any subcommittees created by the Commission.
D. Duties: The Constitution Convention Commission shall organize and proceed to carry out the process broadly outlined in this statute. That process will ensure citizen participation, on an equal footing, with all others. The Commission shall develop an effective and efficient method of communication with all citizens that will: (1) provide an objective assessment of the current governmental structure; (2) conduct a series of public hearings that provide citizens of each voting district an opportunity to provide both written and oral testimony before the Commission to express their views on constitutional amendments, alterations, revisions or a new constitution; (3) provide a regular progress report, a minimum of four times in a year, to the citizens and to each branch of the government; (4) upon completion of public review and comment, prepare an interim report to the Cherokee people detailing the proposed amendments, alterations, revisions or a new constitution at an at-large Constitution Convention; and, (5) develop and present said final proposed amendments, alterations, revisions, or new constitution to a referendum vote by the citizens of the Cherokee Nation. The Commission shall then work in cooperation with the Election Commission to prepare wording for said ballots for an election.
The Constitution Convention Commission shall also engage in the following activities in the performance of its responsibilities:
1. Elect a Chairperson, Vice-chairperson/ Parliamentarian, and a secretary/treasurer from its own membership;
2. Publish a schedule for its regular meetings, establish an agenda for each meeting in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order, and approve and maintain correct and accurate minutes of its deliberations;
3. At its discretion, hire independent counsel for advise, who is neither currently employed or engaged in any manner by the Cherokee Nation, or any agency or enterprise of the Cherokee Nation, nor has been previously employed or engaged in any manner by the Cherokee Nation or any agency or enterprise of the Cherokee Nation within two years prior to the enactment date of this statute;
4. Develop rules and regulations necessary to conduct, the public hearings described above, provided that they shall publish and transmit such rules and regulations.
5. A minimum of three (3) members shall oversee the conduct of each of the public hearings at which citizens of the Cherokee Nation will be permitted to provide written and oral testimony on their suggestions for proposed amendments, alterations revisions, or new constitution.
6. Evaluate and determine the number and location of public hearings within the eleven voting districts of the Cherokee Nation. In addition, public hearings will be held in out-of-area major metropolitan centers in which a minimum of five hundred (500) citizens reside.
7. Hire support staff as the Commission deems appropriate for the conduct of business.
8. Establish a process to record and maintain a permanent record of comments taken from the citizens at the public hearings.
9. Engage in any other activities necessary for the performance of its responsibilities as required by provisions of this Title.
10. Establish advisory committees and seek volunteers to the Commission that may contain members of the Cherokee Nation who are neither on the Commission, nor employed by the Nation. Provided: that no such advisory committee member or volunteer shall have any voting right on matters before the Commission
E. Meetings: The Constitution Convention Commission shall conduct business in open meetings at a location provided by the Cherokee Nation or other location designated by the Commission, provided that the Commission may go into Executive Session for purposes of discussing policy and procedural matters in the initial organization of the Commission or any issues regarding personnel matters. No vote shall be taken in Executive Session, and all votes shall be public and recorded in the official minutes of the Commission. Meeting minutes shall be prepared by the secretary/treasurer setting forth the Commission members present, a summary of items discussed and action taken by vote of the Commission, and said minutes shall be subject to approval of the Commission. Public notice shall be given of all meetings no less than five (5) calender days prior to meeting date. Special meetings may be called on the written concurrence of the chairperson, vice chairperson/parliamentarian, and a secretary/treasurer with proper notice given.
Public notices shall be filed with the Secretary/treasurer of the Cherokee Nation and posted in the lobby by the Council Chambers.
F. Ouorum: Five (S) of the seven (7) Commission members shall constitute a quorum for all meetings held by the Commission.
G. Voting Each member of the Commission may cast one vote each on any given item taken to vote. A simple majority of votes casted by attending members will decide the issue. In the event of a tie, the vote shall be retaken with the chairperson abstaining his/her vote.
H., Compensation: The Commission shall receive stipends or compensation for their services in accordance with their itemized budget as approved by the Council.
I. Immunity: All Commissioners serving on the Constitution Convention Commission shall be afforded qualified immunity from civil prosecution in the courts of the Cherokee Nation for acts taken in performance of their statutory authority.
J. Removal of Commission Member: Any Constitution Convention Commission member may be removed by a 5/7 vote of the Commission members under the following process:
1. Grounds for removal:
a. Campaigning for any candidate for elected office within the Cherokee Nation.
b. Interfering with, or attempting to interfere with the orderly conduct of any public hearing on the constitution.
c. Committing malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance of duty while in office. For purposes of removal, consecutively failing to attend three or more called meetings of the Commission, without just cause, will constitute nonfeasance of office.
2. A Commissioner removed by the Commission may seek a de novo appeal before the Judicial Appeals Tribunal within ten days. A petition for removal of a Commissioner may be brought by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the Tribal Council members, a five-sevenths (5/7) majority vote of the Commission itself or, only with respect to sub section (a) and (b) above, a citizen' s petition brought by a minimum of twenty citizens which includes the sworn statements of no less than ten (10) persons who witnessed the improper activity by a Commissioner.
Enacted by the Council of the Cherokee Nation on the 27th Day of July, 1998
YEAS AND NAYS ARE RECORDED:
TROY POTEETEABSENT DORA MAE WATIEYES
SAM ED BUSHYES NICK LAYABSENT
MARY COOKSEYYES BILL BAKERYES
HAROLD DEMOSSYES DONN CRITTENDENYES
PAULA HOLDERYES CHARLES "CHUCK' HOSKINYES
BARBARA CONNESSYES HAROLD "JIGGS" PHILLIPSYES
WILLIAM SMOKEYES HARLEY L. TERRELLYES