Governor goes west to discuss Whiteclay

Published Friday January 29, 2010

LINCOLN — Gov. Dave Heineman and a contingent of other state officials flew Friday to Gordon, Neb., to meet with Lakota Sioux tribal officials about a legislative proposal concerning Whiteclay, Neb.

The meeting, which wasn’t publicized, was at the invitation of tribal officials, who want to discuss Legislative Bill 1002, a proposal by Ellsworth Sen. LeRoy Louden.

The bill seeks to capture up to 70 percent of the sales tax revenue paid on liquor sales in Whiteclay for economic development or health care projects in Nebraska communities within 30 miles of the town.

Louden’s district includes Whiteclay, where more than 3 million cans a beer a year are sold there, mostly to residents of the adjacent reservation in South Dakota, where alcohol-related problems are rampant.

Liquor possession is illegal on the reservation. Whiteclay, the closest community that sells beer, has been a focus of blame for contributing to those problems.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Heineman said the meeting did not appear on his public schedule because it was a private meeting.

Also at the meeting were Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Sens. Louden, Colby Coash of Lincoln and Russ Karpisek of Wilber.

The three senators have been involved in renewed efforts to address conditions in Whiteclay, such as bringing jobs or an alcohol-treatment center to the area.

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