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Goggles, Allen debate trash, jurisdiction issues

Oct 16, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

They are running for the Wyoming House District 33 seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Wyoming Rep. Patrick Goggles, D-Ethete, said issues with solid waste on the Wind River Indian Reservation pose the most pressing challenges to current tribal relations with the state.

Goggles discussed the Legislature's relationship with tribal residents during a debate last month at Central Wyoming College, advocating for local control when it comes to the disposal of solid waste on the reservation.

Goggles, the Wyoming House District 33 incumbent, is being challenged by Republican Jim Allen of rural Lander, a former legislator, in the Nov. 6 general election.

The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District has struggled to earn revenue at unmanned reservation transfer stations where residents are supposed to pay for trash disposal.

The district voted in June to start a six-month termination notice on its 1996 trash disposal contract with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. With termination posed to take effect in December, trash management remains in question for the tribal areas, and the disposal district may face litigation stemming from the decision to terminate the trash management agreement.

"The state (should be) helping by legislating statutes that help them achieve a solid waste program," Goggles said. "(We need) a program that provides all of the communities the opportunity to utilize that particular service."

Jurisdiction

Goggles also spoke about jurisdictional issues on the reservation, as did Allen, his House District 33 challenger. Allen suggested that the relationship between the nation's tribes and the United States government should be revisited.

"The federal government never gave titling of the land to the tribes, so there is a trust relationship there, and the U.S. government is the trustee," Allen said. "That just defies logic to me. It seems all humans the world over strive for self governance, self reliance and to chart their own course."

Regardless, the state has little to no jurisdiction over reservation land, but Allen said Wyoming could help its tribes achieve full sovereignty.

"That's where tribal and state government can work together as closely as possible to see if we can find and suggest some solutions," Allen said. "If I get elected I'll do all I can to help them achieve those goals."

Goggles said he does not see much potential for change in the relationship between the state and the federal government. He said the reservation is bogged down by many layers of jurisdiction, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Eighty percent of this district is federal land," Goggles said. "And the federal relationship with the state has always been a controversial one. I don't expect that to go away."

The tribes will continue to work with all of the various departments as well as Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to address reservation issues, he said, complimenting previous partnerships between the entities.

"We've done some good things in terms of wolf management and the Endangered Species Act," Goggles said.

He is running for his fifth term serving HD33.

Allen was appointed to the seat in 2004 following the death of Rep. Harry Tipton, but Allen lost the 2004 general election to Goggles.