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Friday, February 24, 2012 - 12:00pm

Casino Concern Drives Land Bill

One Georgia lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make it harder for Native Americans to get state consent for tribal lands.

Brunswick State Senator William Ligon introduced the legislation over gambling concerns.

The Kialegee tribe wants to build a massive resort in coastal Brunswick.

The resort would have a hotel, golf course and an industrial park.

Developer Joe McDonough denies that he and tribal officials are planning a casino.

"I have not seen an application for gaming in this country that has gotten done in anything short than about six years," McDonough says. "It is a long and arduous process and not one that we are interested in doing."

Ligon and some Native American groups, however, suspect the underlying motive is gaming.

"In the past those plans [gaming] have been expressed," Ligon says. "I think it's significant to note that the Georgia Council on Native American Relations is supporting this bill."

Georgia can't completely stop the process for declaring reservations.

But federal officials do take state opinions into account.

Ligon's bill would require tribes to get a two-thirds majority in the Georgia legislature before the state goes along with federal approval of new tribal lands.