THREE LEGISLATORS FILE SUIT IN NM SUPREME COURT TO SEND NAVAJO SETTLEMENT TO THE LEGISLATURE

Three legislators have filed suit in the New Mexico Supreme Court against the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission, asking the Court to declare that Governor Bill Richardson had no authority to sign an agreement with the Navajo Nation without authorization from the Legislature. The lawsuit asks the Court to declare that the proposed Navajo compact is a nullity unless and until the Legislature enacts it as a statute.

The three legislators are Senator Steve Neville (R-Farmington), Representative Paul Bandy (R-Aztec), and Representative Carl Trujillo (D-Nambe). They are joined by Jim Rogers on behalf of the San Juan Agricultural Water Users Association.

Some key points:

No Governor has the constitutional authority to sign an agreement or compact with a tribe without statutory authorization from the Legislature. The Legislature has not passed a bill enacting the Navajo water compact into law. Therefore the Navajo water agreement is a nullity, unless the Legislature votes it into law.

β€œIt makes no difference that the United States Congress has authorized the Navajo water compact, because the New Mexico Legislature has not.”

The Interstate Stream Commission is required to submit all proposed water compacts to the Legislature for final approval. The Legislature can approve or reject or modify the agreement.

If the Navajo Nation gets this water, it can export the water to downstream states like Arizona and California.

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