Revisor’s Code will establish an independent Revisor’s Office, provide confidential drafting services, and establish a Tribal Register.
By Adam Candler Legislative Counsel
On December 2, 2020, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Band Assembly approved Bill 19-02-08-21, establishing a Revisor of Statutes within Mille Lacs Band government. The Chief Executive signed the bill into law on December 3, 2020. The new law is now available within Mille Lacs Band Statutes as Title 25.
The stated purposes of the Revisor’s Code are to (1) establish an independent Revisor’s Office to ensure the annual compilation, updating, and publication of Band laws and official acts; (2) provide confidential drafting services of proposed legislation and policy revisions to District Representatives; and (3) establish a Tribal Register for the publication of Band statutes and policies, Executive Orders, Secretarial Orders, Commissioner’s Orders, Legislative Orders, Chief Justice Orders, and other official notices.
One problem the Mille Lacs Band has faced in recent years is that amendments to the law and various orders carrying the weight of law have not always been accessible to the public. With a Revisor of Statutes in place, statutes will consistently be updated and official records having a legal impact on the lives of Band members will be posted online. This online ”Tribal Register” will serve as a ”one-stop shop” where Band members may access legal and historically significant documents. Never again will Band members question where to find the current version of a legally binding document.
When asked to comment for this article, Secretary-Treasurer and Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Boyd stated: "Continuity. That’s what this is about. The Band Assembly has always tried to get this done and it’s not new. And you can see that in previous documents. From my point of view, it just points to the internal staff and their work ethic for making this code happen."
The Revisor of Statutes will also provide confidential drafting services to District Representatives for the advancement of legislative priorities. Mille Lacs Band District Representatives are not merely legislators; they also possess many approval authorities vestigial to the Reservation Business Committee system of government. This means that District Representatives have a lot on their plates and have not always had enough time or resources to convert their visions for the community into law. The Revisor of Statutes will therefore provide drafting services solely to District Representatives in an effort to help the Band better achieve its legislative goals.
On a final note, Title 25 requires the Revisor of Statutes to issue hard-copy publications of Band law on a regular basis and even requires that the "Laws and Rules of the Non-Removable Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe" be submitted to various offices and institutions. Recipients include other federally recognized Indian tribes, the state of Minnesota, in-state law schools, and even the Library of Congress. Of course, hard-copy publications will also be made available to Band members.
By enactment of such a far-reaching Revisor’s Code, the Mille Lacs Band has shown yet again its willingness to embrace, enhance, and expand self-governance.